Diversity at Law Firms Changes
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Diversity seems to be slowly improving at law firms all over the United States in 2011. In 2010, it became obvious that there was a major lack of diversity at law firms. The number of minority lawyers at some of the major law firms in the United States is about 12.7 percent. In 2010, the number of minority lawyers at these firms was at 12.4 percent. While it is not a dramatic increase, some progress is being made. There were more than 300 more minority lawyers in 2011 than there were in 2010, which proves how much progress is taking place.

While the ethnic diversity seems to be progressing for law firms, gender diversity has not. In 2010, about 32.7 percent of women lawyers worked at major law firms in the United States. In 2011, 32.6 women lawyers were working at these firms. While the decrease is small, it is still a major decline. This means that over 100 female lawyers were no longer working for major law firms in the span of just one year.


The NALP Executive Director, James Leipold, has said, “The 2011 figures reveal that a year later, while the figures for minority associates have bounced back, the overall number of women associates actually declined further. This is a significant finding.”

Because of the downward spiral of the economy, major layoffs occurred at law firms scattered all over the United States. These layoffs typically took place from 2007-2009. Since then, law firms are working on making the job field more diverse, hiring lawyers of various ethnic backgrounds and both genders. While the ethnic diversity seems to be getting better for the law firms, there have been no changes made for gender diversity.

Statistics also prove that minority men tend to have a better chance of becoming partner at a prestigious law firms when compared to minority women. In fact, men of minority account for about 4.5 percent of partners at law firms whereas minority women only account for 2 percent.

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The statistical information was composed from a study of over 100,000 attorneys in over 1,000 law firms in the United States. The statistics show that law firms with a higher minority presence and female presence were located in two cities in California. The two cities with the most minority and female presence at law firms were Los Angeles and San Francisco. Law firms across the country are trying to change the face of their organizations with each hire.

While these two cities in California have a higher rate of women and minorities working in law firms, the statistics that have been provided for the year of 2011 are still worrisome. Leipold says, “The loss of women has slowed, but at a time when far too few women make up the partnership ranks of U.S. law firms, this is not a trend that can be ignored.”


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