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    October 18th, 2007

    So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
    Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion
    To rock the boat..

    Words and music by Wally Holmes, recorded by the Hues Corporation.

    I have to hand it to this group of law students (Law Students Building a Better Legal Profession) and their blog. They have released a study that ranks law firms on diversity, pro bono participation and billable hours in six major markets (New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Northern California and Southern California).

    These students are hitting law firms in the numbers. For example, when looking at New York firms:

    Gender Composition: At all firms surveyed in New York City, women are significantly less represented as partners than as associates. Even at Morrison & Foerster, which has the highest percentage of female partners in New York, women make up only 23.3% of all partners. At Fulbright & Jaworski, which has the lowest percentage of female partners in New York, women are only 7.1% of all partners.”

    From the southern California rankings:

    Low Diversity Partnership Rates: Of the 16 Los Angeles-area firms included in the report, 100% had three or fewer African-American partners, all but one had three or fewer Hispanic partners, and half had three or fewer Asian-American partners, placing the percentage of partners represented by each ethnic group at less than 5%. By contrast, 2005 census data show African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latino-Americans to comprise 9.7%, 13.1%, and 46.8% of the population in Los Angeles county.”

    These days when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, these kinds of rankings may be influential with regard to attracting young and idealistic law students who are placing their values on the line and who seek firms that are working towards a better legal profession (at least according to their principles).

    I applaud this effort and frankly, their willingness to challenge a profession of which they seek to become a part. What is more worrisome was that the reports are based on the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) annual workplace survey and many firms did not fill out the questions in that survey. One can only hope that this will change as law firms pick up on these rankings and publish them on their websites in order to attract talent to their firm. Indeed, one firm (Venable LLP) has already posted their ranking on their web page in order to give publicity to the fact that they ranked 5th in diversity and they went on to state that:

    “Other areas Venable ranked in the top 10 include percentage of Hispanic associates (fourth), percentage of female partners (eighth), percentage of African American partners (ninth), and percentage of Hispanic partners (tenth). “

    I have to give them credit – it appears that rocking the boat appears to already be making some waves!



    This entry was posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2007 at 2:34 pm and is filed under Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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