Minorities are still scarce among law firm partners and general counsel

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Minority lawyers are an increasing percentage of lawyers at law firms, but their numbers still lag at the partnership level, according to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

Sixteen percent of lawyers at law firms are minorities, but only 9 percent of partners are minorities, the Washington Post reports. The pattern is repeated at Fortune 500 companies, where only 11 percent of general counsel are minorities.

Hispanics account for 4 percent of law firm attorneys, and African Americans account for 3 percent. There are more Asian American lawyers than Hispanic and black lawyers combined. But only 20 percent of the Asian American lawyers at law firms are partners, compared to 27 percent of African American lawyers, 31 percent of Hispanic lawyers and 47 percent of white lawyers.

The Post spoke about the statistics with Jean Lee, president and chief executive of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. “All these conversations and efforts are focused on diversity, but it’s just not changing at the top,” Lee said.

Lee told the newspaper that white women have “benefited greatly from all of the diversity initiatives,” while progress is slow for minorities.

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association hopes to change the statistics. It plans to mentor 30 minority in-house lawyers who are near the general counsel level, and it is planning development programs for junior minority lawyers.

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