What More Do We Need to Say About Law’s Diversity Problem?

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Were you wondering if the legal profession was still utterly abysmal on diversity issues? Wonder no more, because the Ninth Annual Survey by the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) makes clear that we still are, at least as far as BigLaw is concerned. NAWL asked the 200 largest firms to provide diversity metrics. 73 firms did so, and the results are basically awful.

Women have crept up to a whopping 18% of equity partners at big firms. Lest you trot out the “hey, but the pipeline of qualified women is much smaller!” line, the report reminds you that women and men have been graduating in roughly equal numbers for almost 25 years. That pipeline is built.

Women are also paid less, under-represented on governance committees, and work more hours than men, but somehow generate less billable hours in that time. Oh – and of all the firms surveyed, not one of them reported that a woman was the highest-paid individual at the firm.

It is worse for lawyers of color, who comprise 8% of all equity partners and firms, and LGBT lawyers, who clock in at a depressingly low 2%.

Things are slightly less grim for in-house counsel jobs, where women hold 23% of the positions, and academia, where women hold 37.5% of tenured positions, but now we’re just grasping at straws to make ourselves feel better.

We are getting pretty tired of writing these posts. The profession has to do better.

Featured image: “One woman under many men” from Shutterstock.

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  • Walker

    Gosh, you mean that firms built on serving the interests of the rich and powerful and ensuring that they remain so care little or nothing about making it so the partners’ children would have to struggle to follow in their parents’ footsteps against highly motivated children of the poorz and brownz? What a surprise!

    When you build a profession that is all about erecting huge barriers to entry to keep out the riff-raff, don’t be surprised when rewards are allocated according to how closely you resemble the uber-professional prototypes.