Paul L. Caron

Friday, June 28, 2019

Big Law Firms With Zero Black Partners—How Is This Possible in 2019?

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer, Am Law Firms With Zero Black Partners—How Is This Possible in 2019?:

According to The American Lawyer’s latest Diversity Scorecard, this year’s winner for the top diversity prize has a superb record on diversity overall, but zero black partners! ...

[W]e’re not talking about some firm in Idaho where African Americans are scarce. No, we’re talking about a 371-lawyer firm with its primary office in New York: immigration giant Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy.

It was ranked No. 1 for its outstanding diversity record—nearly a third of all its lawyers (32.5%) and almost a quarter of its partners (23.9%) are minorities. Mighty impressive stats except for that no black partner thing. (The Diversity Scorecard pertains to U.S.-based lawyers.)

Of course, Fragomen is not the only firm in the Am Law 100 with no black partners. It has tony (the toniest?) company: Cravath, Swaine & Moore. (Cravath’s first and last black partner was Rowan Wilson, who left the firm in 2017 to become a judge on New York’s Court of Appeals.) And until the most recent round of partnership elections, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson was in that club too. ...

A number of firms, including Davis Polk & Wardwell, are on thin ice, having only one lone black partner. In fact, I combed through the diversity data and compiled a list of AmLaw 100 firms with 1% or less black partners—and here they are:

  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati  1%
  • Debevoise & Plimpton  1%*
  • Fish & Richardson  0.5%
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell 0.8%
  • Haynes and Boone  0.4%
  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore  0%
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher  1%*
  • Mayer Brown  0.8%
  • Davis Wright Tremaine 0.7%
  • Williams & Connolly  1%
  • Fried Frank  0%*
  • Dorsey & Whitney 0.4%

( *Since the publication of Am Law’s 2019 diversity data, the firm has elected a new black partner.)

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The statement that Fragomen has zero black partners is not correct. Please see our website for an accurate list of our professionals.

Posted by: Krista Knable | Jul 1, 2019 3:06:03 PM

Obsession with diversity and inclusion. The refuge of incompetent lawyers. Sometimes the chips just fall where they do. Fake news.

Posted by: Martin Lincoln | Jun 29, 2019 5:16:13 AM

Here is a little secret: no one in the world outside of academia, nonprofits and the media really care about diversity. They care about making money. Firms are able to get away with this because no one that they deal with cares. There are no repercussions. It is only in academia where you have to bow to the alter or lose your head.

Posted by: JM | Jun 28, 2019 10:21:14 AM

Maybe Black lawyers have more sense than others. Who in their right mind would want to be a partner in one of these soul-crushing big firms.

Posted by: Actual Lawyer | Jun 28, 2019 5:55:37 AM