The Washington Post published a compelling article recently about the legal profession being the least diverse profession in the nation. The writer cited some stark statistics on gender and racial disparities:
“Women constitute more than a third of the profession, but only about a fifth of law firm partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations and law school deans. The situation is bleakest at the highest levels. Women account for only 17 percent of equity partners, and only seven of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a woman as chairman or managing partner. Women are less likely to make partner even controlling for other factors, including law school grades and time spent out of the workforce or on part-time schedules. Studies find that men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.”
“Although blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans now constitute about a third of the population and a fifth of law school graduates, they make up fewer than 7 percent of law firm partners and 9 percent of general counsels of large corporations. In major law firms, only 3 percent of associates and less than 2 percent of partners are African Americans.”
The article goes on to say that lawyers are doing enough to change these facts.
As an black female attorney,I recognize there is a problem and make it a point to do my part to change it. I want to encourage other lawyers to do the same. I think that many times, we see a very large, systemic problem and feel it may be too large to take on. However, if each lawyer takes one step to do something, we will see change. In 2013, I started the Simmons Law Memorial Book Scholarship to provide money to high school students interested in college and becoming a lawyer . Recently, I created a “Simmons Law Future Lawyers”t shirts for kids, thus planting the “seed” for the kids that may become a lawyer in the future. In June, I attended the Collective Bar Leadership Academy to make sure that my voice, as a woman, and an African-American heard on important issues that impact the collective bar associations. I challenge all attorneys, regardless of color or sex, to do their part to diversify our profession.