March 29, 2019

Inclusion and Advancement of Diverse Lawyers: How to Ensure Success After the Hire, Ethical Considerations to Supporting Inclusion Initiatives, and What We Can Learn from Our North American Neighbors

The legal profession has moved at a slow pace in addressing issues of diversity and inclusion. Reports in the U.S. and Canada indicate that lawyers of color, lawyers with disabilities, LGBTQ2+ lawyers and women lawyers (collectively, for purposes of this article, “diverse lawyers”) are not well-represented in the profession, particularly at the partner level or in leadership or management roles.

The American Bar Association reported in 2018 that 85% of lawyers in the U.S. were Caucasian/white and 36% identified as female. A 2018 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms by the National Association for Placement reported that:

  • overall representation of women, minorities and minority women saw only small gains in 2018;
  • representation of Black/African-American lawyers among partners has barely increased since 2009;
  • minority women continue to be the most underrepresented group at partnership level;
  • there are wide geographic disparities in the number of LGBT lawyers, with a majority being accounted for in densely populated cities such as New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; and
  • reporting of lawyers with disabilities is scant at both partner and associate levels.
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