Why More than 75% of Minority Female Lawyers Leave Law Firms Within 5 Years

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Minority women lawyers find law firm workplaces so challenging that 75 percent leave within five years, a study has found.

Minority women lawyers are the focus of unwanted or unfair critical attention, according to a report by the research firm Catalyst, and they experience institutional discrimination at their firms. The Chicago Sun-Times covered the findings.

Women of color have a greater sense of “outsider status” than other groups, according to the Sun-Times summary of the report. They reported more racial and gender stereotyping, and more feelings of sexism than white women. They also said they missed out on high-profile assignments and important client engagements, and had limited growth opportunities.

A study by the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession had similar findings. The ABA Journal highlighted the study and problems experienced by minority women lawyers in an August 2006 story.

The ABA study included these anecdotes:

• Many minority women lawyers of the same ethnicity were often addressed with the same name.

• Several Latina attorneys said it was a given that they could speak Spanish and liked spicy food.

• Asian-American women reported stereotypes about being subservient or willing to work nonstop.

• African-American women reported stereotypes about affirmative action or having quick-to-flash personalities.

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