New York Times, Elite Law Firm’s All-White Partner Class Stirs Debate on Diversity:
The post appeared on LinkedIn in early December: Paul, Weiss, one of the country’s most prominent and profitable law firms, said it was “pleased to announce” its new partner class.
In the image, 12 lawyers looked out at the world, grinning.
What followed, however, was nothing to smile about. In short order, people across the industry began to comment that all of the faces were white, and only one was a woman’s. ...
A little over a week after it was posted, the image was taken down. Paul, Weiss has said that it regretted the “gender and racial imbalance” of its 2019 class, and that the class was an outlier.
“We have a very good track record in terms of diversity,” Brad Karp, the firm’s chairman, said in an interview. “We’ve always been ranked at the very, very top of every survey.”
Paul, Weiss, with its 144 partners and about 1,000 lawyers, is, in fact, more diverse at the partner level than most of its peers. It has more African-American partners with an ownership stake, six, than a large majority of the country’s 200 biggest firms, and far more than elite competitors like Cravath, Debevoise & Plimpton and Davis Polk.
Women make up 23 percent of partners at Paul, Weiss, compared with 18 percent across the top 200 firms, according to data collected by ALM Intelligence.
Still, Paul, Weiss is no exception to the broader pattern across big law: the share of partners who are women and people of color is much smaller than the number reflected in the ranks of associates, or those starting law school, not to mention the general population. ...
Diversity remains an unfulfilled promised in a variety of elite industries, including tech and finance as well as at big media companies like The New York Times.
More than 20 women and people of color interviewed for this article described obstacles to achieving diversity at Paul, Weiss. Many said that opportunities to be groomed for partner are harder to come by for women and minorities. Even as their work shined, some said, they failed to break into the good graces and social circles of the firm’s top lawyers, who must champion those hoping to earn a lucrative spot as a partner.