Minorities, Women Still Underrepresented In Law

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By Michael Greene

April 10 — Minorities and women continue to be underrepresented within certain aspects of the legal profession, according to the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession's “Review 2014: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession.”

Based on Department of Labor Statistics, the IILP found that “[a]ggregate minority representation among lawyers is significantly lower than minority representation in most other management and professional jobs.”

While aggregate minority representation among lawyers slightly inched up in 2013 to 14.4 percent, this representation still remained lower than the professional labor force as a whole (25.8 percent), and lags behind other professions such as accountants and auditors (27.8 percent), software developers (38.2 percent), architects and engineers (24.3 percent), and physicians and surgeons (31.8 percent).

Mixed Results?

The DOL statistics also showed that improvements in minority representation in the legal field varied among different groups.

African-American representation among lawyers dropped in 2013 to 4.2 percent from 4.7 percent in 2009, whereas the percentage of Hispanic and Asian-American representation increased to a five-year high of 5.1 percent during the same time frame.

“African Americans historically have been the best represented minority group among lawyers but this pattern changed in 2013. Part of the change appears to reflect African American exit from the profession, since both the number of lawyers and the number of African American law students have remained relatively stable since 2009,” the review states.

The data in the review also revealed that even though women's representation among lawyers is higher than it is many other professions (33.1 percent in 2013), “[w]omen continue to be significantly underrepresented in some top-level jobs within the legal profession, such as law firm partner.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Greene in Washington at mgreene@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

The review is available at http://www.theiilp.com/IILPReview2014.