Thursday, December 13, 2012
While women and minority partners continue to mark small gains in their representation among law firm partners as a whole, and while the percentage of minority associates has rebounded after falling in the wake of the recession, the percentage of women associates continues to fall compared to their male counterparts.
The latest NALP findings on law firm demographics reveal that law firms have continued to make up most, but not all, of the ground lost when diversity figures fell in 2010. While the overall representation of minorities continued to inch up, the overall representation of women increased by only a very small amount, and all of this gain can be attributed to increases in women among the partnership ranks. Since the overall figure for women fell in 2011 compared to 2010, this small increase means that the overall percentage for women remains virtually flat compared to 2010.
In 2012, the percentage of both women and minority partners in law firms across the nation was up by a small amount compared with 2011. Among associates, however, representation of women declined slightly for the third year in a row and for only the third time since NALP started compiling this information in the 1990s. The net effect was that, for lawyers as a whole, representation of women was almost flat and remains lower than in 2009. Representation of minority women was up by a very small amount. For minorities as a whole, representation was up slightly. Minorities now make up 12.91% of lawyers at these law firms, compared with 12.70% in 2011. Just under one-third of lawyers at these same firms are women — 32.67% in 2012 compared with 32.61% in 2011 and 32.69% in 2010, all lower than the 32.97% mark reached in 2009. Minority women now account for 6.32% of lawyers at these firms, up a bit from 6.23% in 2011, and returning to a level comparable to the 6.33% figure for 2009. Among associates specifically, however, the representation of women has continued its incremental but steady slide from 45.66% in 2009 to 45.05% in 2012. Representation of minority women among associates is now just barely higher than the 11.02% figure for 2009.
During most of the 20 years that NALP has been compiling this information, law firms had made steady, if somewhat slow progress in increasing the presence of women and minorities in both the partner and associate ranks. In 2012 that slow upward trend continued for partners, with minorities accounting for 6.71% of partners in the nation’s major firms, and women accounting for 19.91% of the partners in these firms. In 2011, the figures were 6.56% and 19.54%, respectively. Nonetheless, the total change since 1993, the first year for which NALP has comparable aggregate information, has been only marginal. At that time minorities accounted for 2.55% of partners and women accounted for 12.27% of partners. Among associates, the percentage of women had increased from 38.99% in 1993 to 45.66% in 2009, before falling back each year since. Over the same period, minority percentages have increased from 8.36% to 20.32%, more than recovering from a slight decline from 2009 to 2010. ...Los Angeles and San Francisco show the highest representation of women, minorities, and minority women among both partners and associates. Minorities account for 12.42% and 10.78% of partners in these two cities, respectively, and women account for 19.96% and 24.85% of partners, respectively. Figures for minority women are 3.98% and 3.96%, respectively. Firms in Seattle and Washington, DC, also at least slightly exceed national averages on most measures.
Among smaller cities, Miami exceeds national averages, and San Jose and Orange County, CA, do so with respect to minority associates. In Miami, women account for 23.65% of partners; minorities, many of whom are Hispanic, account for 27.30% of partners, and 7.83% of partners are minority women. In the San Jose area almost 37% of associates are minorities and almost 17% are minority women. In Orange County, CA, almost one-quarter of associates are minorities, though the percentage of minority women, at just over 10% is somewhat below average.
- ABA Journal, Continued Dip in Number of Female Associates Is ‘Significant and Troubling Trend’
- National Law Journal, Women Associate Numbers Drop for Third Straight Year
- Wall Street Journal, Despite Overall Gains, Percentage of Women Associates Still Falling