Of course, diversity doesn’t just mean people of color (POC). It can mean women, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities and more. All populations other than Caucasian Males are underrepresented in the legal profession across all job roles, from judges to lawyers to paralegals.
If you are new to the legal profession or looking into a legal studies education, or you have a vested interest in increasing diversity within your programs, your community or your organization, we hope you will find these resources helpful.
Diversity in the Legal Profession Articles and Studies
A wealth of research is available to help make the case for more work surrounding increasing diverse populations within the legal profession. Here is a look at a variety of that research from colleges and universities as well as legal associations and organizations.
Piece from the American Bar Association from May 2018 breaking down the findings from the National Lawyer Population Survey and showing some progress the ABA has made toward adding diversity to the profession, including the “20x20” initiative, a plan to land 20 Asian American lawyers into general counsel ranks at Fortune 500 companies by the year 2020.
The new data September 18, 2018 from the ABA reveals that groups that are historically underrepresented in law school, those who identify as Asian, Black, Native Hawaiian, American Indian, Hispanic, and two or more races are those who typically don’t persist past the first year.
CLS is a program designed to encourage more minorities to engage in the legal profession, however, there is a schism between CLS and minorities. This study, dating all the way back to 1987, is often cited as evidence that the law profession is still a long way from achieving diversity goals.
Even though the Latino population in the U.S. continues to grow, Hispanics are disproportionately represented in the legal field. This article from October of 2017 shows that Latinos are still not entering the legal profession.
This 2018 study out of the University of Maine takes a deeper look at minorities across all legal occupations. Although minorities are attending school at higher rates than ever, there is not much change in how many choose legal professions.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes a look at changes in employment of women and minorities, law firm organizational characteristics and partners and associates within law firms over a 27-year-period, from 1975 to 2002.
The Diversity and Inclusion initiatives from the EBA are intended to help the legal profession successfully serve the larger community and they design and develop best practices for the Southwestern Indiana legal community.
The Hispanic National Bar Association has programs, events, awards and initiatives to support Hispanics who work in the legal profession and deal with the unique challenges facing Hispanic populations in America.
NNABA is an organization of attorneys who are U.S. citizens and citizens of their respective Tribal nations, working to protect the governmental sovereignty of the more than 560 independent Tribal governments in the U.S.
The CCWC is a nonprofit organization made up of women of color who work for Fortune 1000 companies, Forbes 2000 companies, other nonprofits and other entities as legal counsel, assistant counsel and in other legal capacities.
This coalition of Latino students seeks to advance Latinos in the legal profession through networking, events and a conference hosted annually to provide students and attorneys the opportunity to discuss issues facing the Latino community.
NAPABA is the national voice of the Asian and Pacific American legal community, working through advocacy and research, events, membership and a conference to increase and support those in this community in the field of law.
NAMWOLF is a nonprofit trade association of women and minority-owned law firms and other interested parties in the U.S. They serve members through Practice Area Committees, inclusion and diversity initiatives, events and more.
NBA membership is open to law students, lawyers, judges, educators and paralegals looking for access to webinars, task force initiatives and networking events related to issues regarding diversity and inclusion.
Increasing diversity in programs, firms and corporations has to be a focused effort among all parties. These tips serve as a guide to anyone who works in admissions, hiring or works at a firm who has a desire to improve the diversity within their organization. These Top Ten Diversity Recommended Practices were adapted from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Creating Pathways to Diversity Guidebook.
Develop a strong business case to obtain buy-in from your firm, company or school. Often, the clients drive the demand, but examining all possible angles to present to senior leadership the need for diversity is key.
Allow senior partners or leadership to take the lead. This will remove obstacles, increase buy-in, strengthen ownership and centralize efforts.
Mandate diversity training from the top down to create understanding and a common language.
Establish accountability with both rewards and holding staff accountable for diversity recruitment successes and failures and create incentives such as a time bank for those who work on these efforts.
Develop effective mentoring programs that are accessible to all attorneys through group mentoring sessions and reciprocal mentoring sessions.
Emphasize lateral hires through existing senior minority attorneys, making the firm more desirable to other minorities, assisting with recruiting and becoming more appealing to entry-level attorneys.
Promote work-life balance as a creative way to retain women who are both mothers and attorneys and committed to success at both through things like flexible hours, on-site childcare. Partners can help all attorneys by serving as role models for quality of life as an attorney.
Expand recruitment strategies by offering fellowships, scholarships, focusing on diversity hires, advertising and supporting with diversity organizations, expanding diversity training to recruitment officers on campuses and in firms and corporations.
Make diversity-related activities billable which will show that investments in diversity is worthwhile and contributes to the bottom line and the advancement of its attorneys.
Use equal treatment programs to ensure that minority attorneys get significant client visibility and relationships with senior management.
Source: Creating Pathways to Diversity® A Study of Law Department Best Practices, Minority Corporate Counsel Association, 2000 & 2005.