Going backwards on diversity in top US firms

November 9, 2010 A new survey from the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) indicates that things are getting even tougher for women in the top 200 law firms in the US.

The survey reports that women constitute only 15 per cent of equity partners – a figure that has been steady for around five years. But the recession seems to have taken a toll on diversity. NAWL said: "The net effect was that, for lawyers as a whole, representation of both women and minorities declined slightly”. Minorities account for 12.4 percent of law firm attorneys in 2010, down from 12.59 percent last year. The number of women attorneys has decreased to 32.69 percent from 32.9 percent in 2009. And there are now fewer minority women practicing in law firms--6.20 percent compared to 6.33 percent in 2009.

One significant change in the industry is the proliferation of non-partner-track lawyers. NAWL found that "more than 60 percent of staff attorneys are women--the highest percentage of women lawyers in any category or practice, and by definition, a category with little possibility of career advancement."

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