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The least diverse profession.

pablo (2) The statistics are disturbing:

  • Women constitute more than a third of the profession, but only about a fifth of law firm partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations and law school deans. The situation is bleakest at the highest levels. Women account for only 17 percent of equity partners, and only seven of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a woman as chairman or managing partner. Women are less likely to make partner even controlling for other factors, including law school grades and time spent out of the workforce or on part-time schedules.Studies find that men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.”


  • “Although blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans now constitute about a third of the population and a fifth of law school graduates, they make up fewer than 7 percent of law firm partners and 9 percent of general counsels of large corporations. In major law firms, only 3 percent of associates and less than 2 percent of partners are African Americans.”

Do the research. Get angry. Let’s change this. Now.


Author Rachel Gezerseh

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Nicole Martin says:

    I found this article to be extremely interesting, especially that less than 2 percent of African Americans are partners. I am African American and am interested in hearing your perspective on what can be done to change this statistic. Do you feel as if the people hiring are discriminating against African Americans based on their race or do you think that African Americans feel discouraged because the field isn’t diverse and are not applying for positions such as being partner?

    I also do not know what steps are taken to become partner. How does this process usually work?

    • Rachel says:

      Nicole, Thanks for your comment. For some very thoughtful discussion on this topic, I recommend you check out this article in the Fordham Law Review, co-authored by Professor Rhode of Stanford. My experience has been, as the article notes, that BigLaw embraces the concept of diversity but fails to realize it in principle. I don’t think the reason is that people doing the hiring are discriminating, not overtly, but I think there are profound unconscious biases at work institutionally in BigLaw that occur because women and minorities do not “have a critical mass of representation in key positions such as management and compensation committees.” This affects hiring at the entry and lateral level, and in turn impacts partnership prospects. That said, how an individual lawyer makes partner in BigLaw varies somewhat from firm to firm. It can involve anywhere from 5 to 15 years of honing your skills as a lawyer and investing your time working at a particular firm. Please note that partnership is not a path that every lawyer takes in BigLaw, and there are alternatives that are not necessarily captured in these statistics, and that can be attractive to lawyers working in BigLaw for a variety of reasons. Here is an article that explains some of the options that have developed over the years in BigLaw.

      • Nicole Martin says:

        Thank you so much for your help Rachel. I truly appreciate your comments and found the articles interesting and informative. I think this blog is a great way for people to feel comfortable while asking questions and learning more information about BigLaw and the legal profession.

        I am very glad that I was able to meet you at the UCR Phi Alpha Delta event and thank you for informing me about SEO Edge. I applied and will keep you updated once I hear of the status of my application.

        Thank you again and Happy Holidays!

        Nicole Martin

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