Percentage of black associates continues to fall in 'distressing' trend, NALP leader says

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The percentage of black associates has fallen every year since 2009 while the percentage of black partners has “barely budged” during that time, according to the National Association for Law Placement.

Among associates, the percentage of African Americans at major U.S. law firms has fallen from 4.66 percent in 2009 to 3.95 percent in 2015, NALP says in a press release. The percentage of African American partners is at 1.77 percent today, compared to 1.71 percent in 2009.

Despite those numbers, the percentage of minority representation has increased overall among both partners and associates. Much of the increase in minority representation is from more Hispanics and Asians in the partner ranks, and from more Asians in the associate ranks.

Representation of all minorities among associates has increased from 19.53 percent in 2010 to 22 percent this year. Among partners, representation of all minorities has increased from 6.05 percent in 2009 to 7.52 percent today.

In other findings, NALP says female representation among associates is at 44.68 percent, a percentage that is essentially flat since 2013 and below the peak of peak of 45.66 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile, 21.46 percent of partners are women. That’s a slight increase from last year, when 21.05 percent of partners were women.

NALP executive director James Leipold commented on the findings in the press release. “It is troubling to see the numbers for women and African-American associates seemingly reversing course,” he said. “2015 marks the sixth year of decline in the representation of black associates, and while the percentage decrease is small, the overall number itself was small to begin with, so any decline is significant, and the trend is distressing. For women, too, after years of small gains, the pattern of flat to declining representation among associates in law firms is disturbing.”

The statistics are derived from the 2015-2016 NALP Directory of Legal Employers.

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