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by Vault Law Editors | September 04, 2019

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We are pleased to announce that the new Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey results are now available in the Vault/MCCA Diversity Database and on the Vault.com profiles of participating law firms. The latest results are based on information reported by 238 law firms who participated in the 2019 Law Firm Diversity Survey.

For more than a decade, Vault and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association have worked together to gather detailed breakdowns of law firm populations by race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability status across attorney levels—from summer associates hired to partners promoted, from the lawyers who serve on management committees to the attorneys who leave their firms—thus offering comprehensive demographic snapshots of the nation’s leading law firms as well as of the industry as a whole. 

The Law Firm Diversity Database is a free tool made available to the legal community thanks to Vault, MCCA and our committed sponsors. Law students and lateral candidates researching potential employers can compare and download the data reported by participating firms. Corporate law departments also use the database to assess outside counsel, and law firms use it to benchmark their own progress against peer firms. Readers can make side‐by‐side comparisons of diversity metrics, track firms’ progress over time and evaluate their performance against industry‐wide totals. The database also includes law firms’ descriptions of their initiatives and goals with respect to diversity and inclusion, and how their management is held accountable for achieving those goals.  

This year’s survey was distributed in the spring of 2019 and includes statistics reported as of December 31, 2018. The database also maintains an archive of demographic data collected since 2008, presenting a uniquely detailed and comprehensive portrait of diversity progress in the legal industry. More than 200 law firms nationwide participate in the survey each year, representing most of the Vault Law 100 and AmLaw 100 and a majority of the NLJ 250. More than 150 firms have taken part every year for the last 10 years.

In the coming months we will be showcasing select findings from the 2019 Survey, but if you are interested in reading our 2018 Survey Report, you can download the report here. Some key findings reflect a continuation of trends observed over the last several years:

  • Law firms are hiring more people of color but are less successful at retaining them. More than 22 percent of the lawyers who left their firms last year were members of racial/ethnic minority groups, even though attorneys of color represent only 17 percent of attorneys at surveyed firms.
  • Despite some clear advances for minority lawyers as a whole, progress is uneven among the different racial/ethnic groups. Less than 2 percent of equity partners are African-American, as the overall representation of black attorneys remains below pre-recession levels. Asian Americans are the largest minority group among attorneys, but they are less likely to be partners at their firms than either African-American or Hispanic/Latinx attorneys.
  • Women are making greater inroads into partnership and leadership roles, but minority women enjoy fewer of these successes than their white colleagues. Women now represent more than 21 percent of equity partners, compared to 16 percent in 2008. Just 3 percent of equity partners are women of color.
  • Even with the progress recorded over the last decade, especially among new associates, demographic changes have been slow to trickle upward, as law firm partners remain overwhelmingly white and male. According to this year’s survey, white men represent just under 55 percent of all law firm attorneys but more than 71 percent of equity partners.

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