Hague: Employers: Invest in your employees like you do your clients – The Indiana Lawyer
In recent years, we have turned our collective attention to the lack of diversity within our profession. For decades, if you were an attorney, you were most likely male and most likely white. That trend is slowly starting to change. According to the most recent data from the National Association for Law Placement, women comprised 48% of associates at law firms in 2021, the highest in NALP’s 29 years of reporting. The same data show that associates of color now represent almost 28% of the workforce, an 8-percentage-point increase in the last decade. Critically, there was a 5% year-over-year increase in the number of summer associates who are people of color, and that same group represented 41% of the 2021 summer associate workforce. While these numbers demonstrate incremental progress toward expanding the pipeline of diverse attorneys beginning their legal careers, they do not address the ever-narrowing pipeline for diverse attorneys as their careers progress.
By the end of 2020, attorneys of color represented almost 27% of the associates of surveyed law firms, yet that same demographic represented only 11% of the partners in those same law firms. There are undoubtedly numerous reasons for the disparity in these numbers. Given that matriculation to partner often takes years, these numbers might improve if for no other reason than the passage of time. However, simply waiting risks missing an opportunity reflected in these numbers.
Employers: invest in your employees like you do your clients.