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11/19/12

Survey by New York City Bar Association Shows ''Stagnation'' for Minority and Female Lawyers

The 2011 Diversity Benchmarking Report released by the New York City Bar Association shows that the results regarding diversity in law firms are nothing to cheer about. In its very first sentence, the report states "The 2011 diversity results paint a picture of stagnation for women and minority attorneys."

The report says that while there are improvements at the micro-level that can be celebrated, they are small and "interspersed with signs of slippage". Minority lawyers have also reclaimed some of the ground lost during the recession and female lawyers continue to climb the ranks as more partners are now female. But female lawyers are now declining at the associate level. The results include the responses of 74 NYC law firms.

The main results of the report state that signatory firms are struggling to meet the diversity goals that they first set in 2003. The peak for female lawyers was in 2006 when they were 47.3 percent of the new hire class compared to 2011's 43.1 percent. For minority lawyers, the peak year was 2008 when they were 28.4 percent of the new hires. In 2011, they accounted for 25.6 percent of the class.

Another major finding is that female and minority lawyers have higher attrition rates compared to their male and white colleagues. This contributes to "leaky faucet". The report quotes a recent McKinsey study in which McKinsey's researchers talked of a "fat funnel" in which women enter the profession in high numbers but then begin dropping off in substantial numbers in their early and mid-career stages.

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