By Jacqueline Bell
Law360's latest Diversity Snapshot ranking provides a window into the demographic realities of law firms at the end of 2021, a year when many law firms were engaged in a historic hiring spree and looking for opportunities to grow and evolve.
Law firms have faced significant challenges over the past year — and so have their clients, driving up demand for legal services and giving firms new opportunities to tap an increasingly diverse legal workforce. While many law firms have been renewing their pledges to increase diversity in the legal industry, improvements so far have been largely incremental.
Firms still have a long way to go to truly diversify their ranks. Most still lack significant representation of attorneys of color, particularly in their uppermost ranks. Few law firm equity partners are attorneys of color, while a quarter of nonpartners at law firms are attorneys of color.
Law firms that are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in their workforce face challenging questions. How are they measuring up to their peers? What goals should they set? What are the next steps?
Law360's Diversity Snapshot — a view of law firms at a specific point in time — attempts to answer some of those questions. Our comprehensive ranking of law firms on their overall representation of minority attorneys provides a picture of where firms are now, and where the future might lead.
The chart below provides another view, with a more detailed look at the representation of minority attorneys at the associate and at the partner level.
We see these snapshots as part of an ongoing conversation that we hope will keep expanding as we develop new ways of examining diversity in the profession and evaluate the data that is the most relevant to answering difficult questions. As we continue to collect and analyze data, we welcome your comments.
-- Editing by Pamela Wilkinson, Kerry Benn and John Campbell. Graphic by Jonathan Hayter.