Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NY Times: Paul Weiss All-White Partner Class Stirs Debate On Diversity

Paul Weiss

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.

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It's funny how these elite organizations that speak so much hot air about diversity really close ranks when it comes to ownership. It is one thing to hire associates, which can pretty much always be staffed on some matter and thus billed equivalent to their cost. It is a much different matter to pay someone comp over $500k or $1 million and not have a way to make them productive. It seems to be a bridge they are unwilling to cross.

I worked for an AMLAW5 50 firm and once counted on the website that their was one black partner out of around 200 total.

Posted by: JM | Jan 30, 2019 6:59:54 AM

> In the image, 12 lawyers looked out at the world, grinning.

Smirking, smirking

All I see after Covington is white privilege.


Posted by: momo | Jan 30, 2019 10:19:56 AM

Is there evidence that there were ethnic minorities who had enough experience to go up for partner, but were more qualified than this group based on billable hours and revenue generation?

If not, I'm not sure I understand why there's any controversy.

If you want to make partner, complain less and work harder.

Posted by: merit | Jan 30, 2019 11:55:31 AM

This doesn’t give the legal profession much credibility when it talks about its "values,” does it?

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Jan 31, 2019 4:15:09 AM