The American Lawyer's 2019 Diversity Scorecard is Out. Here are Your Key Takeaways

Lawline Staff | June 4, 2019

The American Lawyer’s 2019 Diversity Scorecard has been released, and while it’s not all bad, it also isn’t pretty.  The 2019 Scorecard recorded the average number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) minority (including Asian-American, African-American, Latino, Hispanic, Native American and “self-described multiracial”) attorneys at Am Law 200 and National Law Journal 250 law firms for the 2018 calendar year.  Here are the key takeaways you need to know about this year’s analysis:

How it Works. The Scorecard is very specifically calculated to give a full picture of the demographic makeup of the top firms in the U.S.  A firm’s “diversity score” is the minority percentage of all U.S. attorneys at the firms surveyed plus the minority percentage of all U.S. partners at those firms.  Some things to remember when reading the report:

  • Lawyer counts are average FTE figures;
  • Equity and non-equity partners are included in partner statistics;
  • “Non-Partner” includes associates, special counsel, of counsel, and various staff attorneys;
  • Contract attorneys are not included in the report;
  • “Other Minority” includes Native Americans and those who identify as multiracial; and
  • Lawyers of Middle Eastern heritage are not counted as minority attorneys for the purposes of the Scorecard.

Not Everyone is Talking. According to the report, several firms declined to participate altogether.   A full 34 firms from the selected lists opted not to provide The American Lawyer with their statistics, which could absolutely skew these results - for better or worse.   

Who Came Out on Top?  The top five firms in terms of diversity representation among attorneys are:

  1. Fragomen
  2. White & Case
  3. Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle
  4. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
  5. Fenwick & West

African-American Attorneys are Falling Further Behind.  Even at the number one firm, Fragomen, African-American attorneys only account for 1.3% of the firm’s population. Fragomen also reported no African-American partners, while, in an interesting twist, two firms outside of the top five in terms total diversity were found to have the highest percentage of black partners. According to The American Lawyer, minority representation has risen from 13.6 percent to 16.9 percent since 2011 - but representation of black attorneys has only increased .2%.  Yes, you read that right.  From 2011 to 2019, representation of black attorneys on the Diversity Scorecard has only made a slow crawl from 3.1% to 3.3%.  

Addressing diversity in the legal industry is extremely important - so important that over 200 general counsel recently signed on to a letter challenging law firms to develop more diverse teams. Aside from cultivating a workplace that continues to attract talent, research also shows that diverse teams have a better exchange of ideas and are more innovative, which is better for clients.

If you’re looking to learn more about combating a lack of diversity in the legal industry, watch Strategies to Improve Diversity and Interrupt Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession and When Bad Biases Happen to Good People: A Primer on Recognizing and Interrupting Implicit Biases. For more on gender and the legal profession, be sure to watch What Legal Organizations Can Do to Prevent Unconscious Gender Bias and check out this course, coming in July 2019!

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Written by Lawline Staff

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