Women of Color Research Initiative

NEW!  Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Fortune 500 Legal Departments

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Download the executive summary (PDF) at no cost
Download the accessible version of the executive summary

The Commission on Women has analyzed the results of its survey of diversity dynamics in Fortune 500 corporate legal departments.

This report focuses on the experiences of women attorneys, particularly women of color, as they go through the four major aspects of an attorney's career: recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement.

Read recap and view video clip of 2012 Annual Meeting Visible Invisibility program

From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful:
Success Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law Firms

From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful: Success Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law FirmsDownload this report (PDF) at no cost

Find information, insights, and advice gathered from women of color partners in national law firms as well as an examination of law firm practices that contributed to their success in the Commission on Women in the Profession's newly-released report From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful: Success Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law Firms. This publication is a follow-up to the groundbreaking report Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms released in Fall, 2006.

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Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms

Order the final report for $49.95

Download the Executive Summary at no cost

To fully examine advancement and retention issues among women attorneys of color, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession embarked upon a research initiative to answer the following questions:

  • What attracts women of color to the legal profession?
  • Do their work experiences surpass or fall short of expectations?
  • How do legal employers hinder or increase job satisfaction? and
  • Why do women attorneys of color change practice areas and organizations, or leave the profession at an alarming rate?

Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law FirmsVisible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms presents the findings of the survey and focus group research and concludes with specific recommendations for law firms interested in retaining women of color.

The ABA Commission on Women was inspired to examine the professional trajectory of women of color based on research in the late 1990s by the National Association of Law Placement that suggested that virtually all women lawyers of color working in private practice had left their positions at major law firms within eight years. A more recent study by NALP found that from 1998 to 2003 nearly two-thirds (64.4 percent) of minority females left their firms within 55 months of being hired.

While there has been research conducted on issues specifically related to all women and specifically related to all people of color in the legal profession, there has been no comprehensive study which has specifically focused on women lawyers of color. The Commission on Women determined that there is a need for a comprehensive analysis on the unique concerns and experiences of Hispanic, African-American, Native American, and Asian American women in the legal profession and embarked upon the development of a research study that explores the unique experiences of these women who had worked in a law firm of 25 attorneys or more and begins the dialogue on how the legal profession can facilitate the full and robust participation of this group of talented lawyers.


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Thank you to our generous Commission Signature Supporters


Resources

  • Visible Invisibility: Breaking Down Barriers to Women's Leadership - February, 2012 - Read recap - View video clip
  • Women of Color in the Legal Profession: Success Strategies for Law Firms - June, 2007 (MP3 Audio Download)
  • 2006 Annual Meeting CLE Program (podcast and PowerPoint presentation)

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