By Xiumei Dong
Law firms have made only modest progress in moving the needle on diversity, particularly at the equity partnership level. Still, a few are setting a new standard and actively increasing their representation of attorneys of color.
While tangible advances have been made at the associate level, the ranks of equity partners at law firms remain overwhelmingly white. Just over 11% of equity partners identified as a person of color in Law360 Pulse's most recent survey.
These numbers stand in contrast to decades of law schools with far more diverse classes of legal scholars. For over two decades, students of color have accounted for more than 20% of law students, and they now make up nearly 32% of the student population.
Amid the ongoing efforts to create a more diverse workforce, certain firms are challenging the status quo and actively working to build partnerships that embrace a broader talent pool.
Paul Hastings LLP, which has been actively hiring in recent years, has risen to the top of the list of the biggest law firms with the most diverse equity partners, reporting that 22.3% of the firm's equity ranks are attorneys of color. Following closely behind are Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC and Morrison Foerster LLP, each with more than 20% of their equity partners identifying as attorneys of color.
Among firms with between 251 and 600 attorneys, immigration boutique Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP set a new benchmark, reporting a 50% representation of attorneys of color at the equity partner level, an increase of more than 5 percentage points from the previous year.
Similarly, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP has also made noticeable progress, with nearly 36% of their equity ranks consisting of attorneys of color, up by 3 percentage points from the year prior.
Here are the firms outpacing their peers as the legal industry works toward increasing minority representation in its top ranks.