Law Firms

Layoffs Aftermath: Declining Marks on BigLaw’s Diversity Scorecard

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Law firm layoffs apparently hit minority lawyers especially hard.

The American Lawyer has found that the percentage of minority lawyers in the nation’s top law firms dropped from 13.9 percent in 2008 to 13.4 percent in 2009.

“The drop in law firm diversity may be small, but it’s important,” the story says. “Overall, big firms shed 6 percent of their attorneys between 2008 and 2009—and, amid the bloodletting, lost 9 percent of their minority lawyers.”

The percentage of African Americans saw the biggest decline, dropping 13 percent overall and 16 percent for nonpartners, according to the story.

Thomas Sager, general counsel of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, told the American Lawyer he fears the dip could signal a trend. “There were fears when the recession began that these folks would be disproportionately impacted, and it appears to be the case,” he said.

The firm with the best marks on the publication’s Diversity Scorecard, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, kept its top spot. But last year’s second-ranked Townsend and Townsend and Crew dropped to 14th place in the new survey.

This year’s top five are:

1) Wilson Sonsini.

2) Munger, Tolles & Olson.

3) Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith.

4) White & Case.

5) Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear.

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