Women and Minorities Still Lacking in Large Law Firms
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Summary: Large New York City law firms are still lacking the presence of women and minorities in their law firms, especially in management committees.

Very little progress is being made by the large New York City law firms to include women and minorities in their numbers. A New York City Bar Association conducted a confidential survey which found that “progress remains incremental and attrition and pipeline numbers are not where they should be.” New York is the powerhouse of the $1 billion-plus legal industry, paving the way for other law firms to follow.


The law firms included in the survey mostly have 51 to over 500 lawyers were required by the Association to participate for the first time this year. Included in the survey was the breakdown of lawyers by ethnicity and gender instead of solely by a “minority” classification.

Read Women and Minority Partners Continue to Make Small Strides.

Seventy-five firms committed to the diversity principles set by the Association responded to the survey. Only 55 firms responded last year. Some of the firms include Kirkland & Ellis, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Wachtell Liption Rosen & Katz.

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Women make up 19 percent of the surveyed firms partners, a small increase from the last survey. This number is a movement in the right direction but there were fewer women working as associates. Minority women comprise 15 percent of all female partners at signatory firms and fewer than 3 percent of partners overall.

More large law firms have hired diversity directors to recruit a greater variety of candidates but the overall representation of minorities remains flat. With this trend, 75 percent of firm partnerships are still white males.

See How Minorities Can Select the Best Law School for Their Future.

The survey explains that the progress for women and minorities is hindered by many lawyers leaving law firms for several reasons. Women and minority partners have a turnover rate 8.6 percent while male equity partners leave at a rate of 3.2 percent.

Even though many law firms have seen women move up through the ranks to serve as heads of departments or committees, 25 percent of the top firms still do not have a woman on their management committees and 12.5 percent do not have a woman as a practice group leader.

Minorities have seen less growth and many law firms lack minorities on management committees or have no racial or ethnic minorities serving as heads of practice groups.

Do you think there is anything that can be done to attract more minorities and women to large law firms? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

To learn more about how companies are supporting women in law, read Companies Pledge $30 Million to Firms Owned by Women and Minorities.



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