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Survey: Despite Progress in Recruitment of Diverse Attorneys, Attrition and Promotion at Law Firms Still Bleak

March 3, 2016

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

CONTACT:
Daniel Herrera: (202) 930- 6805 - dherrera@rabengroup.com
Vera Djordjevich: (646) 792-6274 - vdjordjevich@vault.com


SURVEY: DESPITE PROGRESS IN RECRUITMENT OF DIVERSE ATTORNEYS, ATTRITION AND PROMOTION AT LAW FIRMS STILL BLEAK

Vault/MCCA survey reports that the number of African American lawyers are declining within law firms and Asian American attorneys experience slower rates of promotion

Washington, DC- The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) and Vault.com have released a detailed report highlighting the results of a national survey that shows some gains for minority and women attorneys in law firms but there remain stark and disappointing contrasts between diverse attorneys and their white counterparts. The annual Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey (mcca.vault.com) is the legal industry’s most comprehensive tool for measuring law firm diversity, collecting data on race, ethnicity, gender, GLBT identity, and disability status.  

“We applaud the diversity and inclusion progress and leadership of the stand-out law firms in the survey, but, looking at the numbers reported in 2015, it is clear that there is still much work to be done,” said Michelle Banks, Chair of MCCA’s Board of Directors. “Since the beginning of our partnership with Vault, we have seen positive change in the diversity of our nation’s top law firms, and proactive measures from firms to be more inclusive at the hiring stage,” said Aracely Muñoz Petrich, Vice President of Strategic Development for MCCA.  “Despite these measures, the attrition and promotion rates for many minority attorneys are disappointing and need to be addressed.”  

“The declining numbers among African American attorneys and the slow rate at which lawyers of color are advancing to partnership are of particular concern,” added Vera Djordjevich, Director of Research & Consulting for Vault.

Some key findings from the 2015 Vault/MCCA survey:

  • The diversification of law firms continues at a slow pace, as minority lawyers now represent 15.0% of attorneys at surveyed firms, compared to 13.8% in 2007.
  • The hiring of African American attorneys and law students has declined as their attrition has increased, resulting in law firms employing fewer black lawyers than they did eight years ago.
  • While the overall number of female lawyers has changed little over the last several years, women are gaining greater representation at the partnership and management levels, and their attrition rates are declining. In particular, the latest survey results provide encouraging signs of progress for women of color. However, despite these gains, less than 3% of all law firm partners are minority women.
  • While law firm equity partners are still predominantly white and male, newer ranks show greater diversity: one-third of all new equity partners in 2014 were either female or members of a minority racial/ethnic group.
  • Although Hispanic lawyers have made the most consistent advances, the number of Latino attorneys, relative to their overall U.S. population, remains far lower than that of other minority groups.

MCCA and Vault have conducted the Law Firm Diversity Survey since 2004 and currently collective quantitative and qualitative information regarding race and gender, as well as information about openly GLBT individuals and attorneys with disabilities. In 2009, Vault and MCCA launched the Law Firm Diversity Database (mcca.vault.com), an online tool making the information provided by law firms more widely available to the legal community.

Approximately 250 law firms participate in the survey each year, representing virtually all of the AmLaw 100 and the majority of the Vault Law 100 and a majority of the NLJ 250. The latest findings are based on responses to the 2015 survey, in which 247 law firms participated, providing demographic statistics as of December 31, 2014.

The full report highlighting some of the key findings over the last eight years of data collection is available on the MCCA and Vault websites.  Click here to download a copy.

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About the Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database

The Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database (mcca.vault.com) is the legal industry’s primary tool for measuring law firm diversity. It includes law firm demographics, with breakdowns by race/ethnicity and gender, GLBT Identity and individuals with disabilities, and qualitative information regarding firms’ diversity plans and initiatives. This free online tool (registration is required) allows the corporate counsel community, graduating law students and prospective employees to make side-by-side comparisons of diversity metrics, track firms’ progress over the last six years and evaluate their performance against industry-wide benchmarks.

About Minority Corporate Counsel Association

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) was founded in 1997 to advocate for the expanded hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys in corporate law departments and the law firms that serve them. MCCA furthers its mission through the collection and dissemination of information about diversity in the legal profession. MCCA takes an inclusive approach to the definition of “diversity.” Therefore, its research addresses issues of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and generational differences which impact the legal profession’s workforce.

About Vault

Vault is the most comprehensive resource for employer, university and internship program rankings, ratings and insight. Vault’s influential rankings and reviews are sourced from directed surveys of professionals and students, and evaluate companies, schools and internships in terms of prestige, diversity, quality of life, compensation and other categories. Vault provides users with in-depth information on employers, industries, interviews, and available jobs and internships. In addition, Vault partners with employers to help build their brands and assist with recruiting efforts, and with universities to help their students with employment placement and career selection.

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