By Jacqueline Bell
While law firms overall continue to take only modest steps towards achieving their longstanding diversity and inclusion goals, some firms are making significant strides and showing that progress is possible even in the uppermost ranks.
Overall, the ranks of equity partners at law firms remain overwhelmingly white. Less than 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. At least 20% of law school students for more than 20 years have been racial or ethnic minorities, according to data collected by the American Bar Association.
As the industry largely continues to work to make good on its promises to promote a more diverse workforce, some firms are proving that law firms can take steps to build a partnership that includes more diverse talent.
Morrison Foerster LLP again tops the list of the biggest law firms with the most-diverse equity partners, reporting that 21% of their equity ranks are attorneys of color. Paul Hastings LLP and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC followed closely behind with about 20% of their equity partners identifying as attorneys of color.
Among firms with between 251 and 600 attorneys, immigration boutiques Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP and Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP are setting a new standard, reporting that more than 44% and more than 32% of their equity ranks, respectively, are attorneys of color.
Here are the firms outpacing their peers as the legal industry works towards increasing minority representation in its top ranks.