By Jacqueline Bell | August 31, 2020, 9:02 PM EDT
Progress on diversity in the legal industry has been slow. Among the equity partnership tiers at U.S. law firms, progress has been even more limited. But some law firms are outpacing their peers and demonstrating that strides can be made toward diversifying those upper ranks.
While the proportion of minority attorneys at law firms that provided data topped 17% at the end of 2019 after years of inching slowly upwards, the percentage of equity partners at U.S. law firms that identify as a person of color remains under 10%.
Law firms have had ample time to promote qualified candidates over the years. At least 20% of law students for the past 30 years have been people of color, according to data collected by the American Bar Association, and more than 30% of first-year law students in recent years identify as a member of a racial or ethnic minority.
While overall the ranks of equity partners remain overwhelmingly white, the 40 firms on this list are showing that law firms can create opportunities, and work to build a partnership with more diverse talent and diverse perspectives.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC again tops the list of the biggest firms with the most diverse equity partners, reporting that more than 18% of its equity rank are attorneys of color, a small decline from its percentage last year. Morrison & Foerster LLP, also again placing second among the largest firms, is close behind.
Immigration boutique Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy has the most diversity among firms with between 251 and 600 attorneys, with 28% equity partners of color.
Here are the 40 firms outpacing their peers as the legal industry works towards increasing minority representation in their top ranks.