Vault.com and MCCA Launch 2010 Law Firm Diversity Database
Statistics Reveal Progress in Law Firms’ Recruitment of Minority and Women Attorneys, Less Success in their Retention
New York, NY, (December 16, 2009) Vault.com, the Web’s most comprehensive career resource for career management, and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), the nation’s foremost authority on diversity issues in the legal profession, have introduced the 2010 Law Firm Diversity Database (http://mcca.vault.com). The fully-searchable online tool features comprehensive data on diversity performance at nearly 300 law firms nationwide. The latest data shows continued, albeit slow, increases in diversity at the nation’s largest law firms. However, statistics also suggest that law firm successes in the area of recruitment surpass those in retention.
“The Law Firm Diversity Database provides corporate counsel, job seekers and law firm management with a means to gauge individual firms’ efforts to advance diversity, as well as to measure the progress being made by the industry as a whole,” says Vera Djordjevich, Vault’s senior law editor and editor of the Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database. “While not all of the trends revealed in our survey data are entirely positive, the increasing transparency of law firms with respect to diversity information is encouraging.”
“Prior to the creation of this database, there was no reliable resource to illuminate and summarize the diversity efforts underway at top law firms. It’s clear that numbers alone don’t offer a complete picture, and so the database offers both quantitative and qualitative information for users to draw apples-to-apples comparisons,” said Veta Richardson, Executive Director of MCCA.
Overall Numbers Improve
Overall numbers for minority and women attorneys continue to show gradual improvement. For example, minority lawyers made up 21.35% of the associate population in 2008, up from 20.76% in 2007, while women accounted for 45.70% of all associates, compared to 44.68% in the previous year. Although both minorities and women remain under-represented at higher levels, they have made some gains within the partnership ranks. Attorneys of color represented 6.05% of equity partners in 2008 — an increase from 5.62% in 2007. The number of women equity partners, meanwhile, inched up from 16.03% in 2007 to 16.43% in 2008.
Law firm data also offer some encouragement when it comes to the hiring of diverse attorneys: 27.18% of the 2008 summer associate class were minorities, while 44.58% were women. Of new associate and partner hires in 2008, 21.54% were minority lawyers and 40.27% were women.
Retention Remains a Concern
Although law firms have made some strides in the area of recruitment, they have had comparatively more difficulty retaining diverse lawyers, especially lawyers of color. While minorities represent just 21.35% of the total associate population, 24.08% of associates who left their respective law firms in 2008 were attorneys of color. Attrition for minority attorneys is especially high at the junior level: nearly 30% of first- and second-year associates who left their firms last year were minority men and women. The rate of attrition of white women at junior and mid-levels did drop slightly in 2008, although attrition among women in senior ranks increased.
Because the survey solicits statistics as of calendar year end, a fuller picture of the impact of the current recession will not emerge until 2009 statistics become available in the next few months.
The Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database is compiled from responses to an annual diversity survey, a detailed questionnaire that was written by MCCA with the input of several of its corporate members and has been distributed in partnership with Vault to law firms nationwide since 2004. This year, 248 law firms, including the majority of the Am Law 200, took part. Survey results feature statistical data on law firm demographics, with breakdowns by race/ethnicity and gender, GLBT attorneys and individuals with disabilities, as well as qualitative information regarding firms’ diversity plans and initiatives. Through this free online tool, the corporate counsel community, graduating law students and prospective employees can make side-by-side comparisons of diversity metrics, track firms’ progress over the years and evaluate their performance against industry-wide benchmarks. The database also includes access to law firms’ complete, self-reported survey responses, to present a comprehensive picture of the diversity commitment and programs at participating firms.
The Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database was initially developed in cooperation with Accenture, Bank of America, Microsoft, PPG Industries, Sara Lee and Wal-Mart, to support the Call to Action, a corporate counsel initiative devoted to increasing diversity at U.S. law firms. With widespread support from the general counsel and law firm communities, the Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey has become the primary tool for measuring law firm diversity.
The new edition of the database includes data for 2007 and 2008 collected over the last two years. Free registration is required. The next edition of the Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Database, which will include statistics for 2009, is expected to be released during the second quarter of 2010.
Vault is the web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search information, including insider intelligence on salaries, hiring practices and company cultures. Vault features thousands of profiles on occupations, industries, companies and universities, as well as career-related articles, videos, blogs and research tools. The company publishes more than 120 print and online titles, from the best-selling Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms to the Vault Guide to Schmoozing. Vault’s clients include Fortune 1000 advertisers and recruiters, the country’s top universities and graduate schools.
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association advocates for the expanded hiring, promotion, and retention of minority attorneys in corporate legal departments and the law firms that serve them. MCCA furthers its mission by publishing research on achieving diversity and best practices in the legal profession, honoring innovative diversity programs with its Employer of Choice and Thomas L. Sager awards, and assisting diverse law students through the Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship Program. MCCA’s work has been recognized with awards from the National Minority Business Council, Inc., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Gay and Lesbian Law Association, and the Association of Corporate Counsel. Founded in 1997, MCCA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and also has a Southeast regional office in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, go to mcca.com.
For Vault.com: For MCCA:
Jon Minners Diane Nowak-Waring