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Women and Minorities Are Making Partner, Just Not Everywhere

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on October 12, 2015 6:58 AM

The National Association of Law Placement (NALP) released a 2015 report that outlines the current trends of minorities and women in the law. The numbers indicate growth in both segments. In fact, the numbers have shown upward trends of both minorities, women and minority women at top law firms for a number of years now. This is welcome news to those who have called vociferously for reform to the overwhelming dominance of white males in the partner segment.

Although NALP's numbers indeed show gains for minorities and women, it's too soon to party. The gains are really only seen in certain regions.

Regions Where Women Make Partner

The most progressive regions were Denver, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, and Minneapolis. In these regions, non-minority women made up approximately 25-28 percent of the partners.

Regions Where Minorities Make Partner

Non-women Minorities made partner in greatest percentages at the following major cities: Miami, San Jose, LA, Orange County, and Austin. It should be noted that of the top ten cities in this category, five of them were located in California. But Miami took the clear prize where minorities made up nearly 30 percent of the partners in that area.

What About Minority Women?

This is where the numbers get less rosy.

The 2014-2015 NALP report includes a column labeled "minority women," suggesting that "minority" excludes women, and "women" excludes minorities. A quick glance reveals that women minorities only made up 7.84 percent of partners in Miami -- the highest in the nation.

Across the nation for 2014-2015, only 2.45 percent of firm partners were non-white women; and the percentage fell as the number of lawyers in the firm fell -- almost suggesting that smaller firms eschew female minorities for partnership roles.

Looking Past the Numbers

NALP's numbers are not broken down by specific minority groups such as Hispanic, Black, Asian. All minority groups in the 2014 are included into one non-white group for ease of reading the statistics. Further analysis of how each demographic fares should be pursued. In fact, despite the oft-cited over-achiever stereotype of Asians, they do decidedly less well despite their high numbers in associate positions. Things are not much better if you're black and aiming for partner either.

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