Editor’s note: In this article, The Legal examines diversity in Pennsylvania’s largest law firms. It will be followed Tuesday with a look at diversity in Pennsylvania’s largest plaintiffs firms.
The number of minority attorneys in the Pennsylvania offices of the state’s largest law firms is a fraction of the minority population in the state.
Minorities make up 5.7 percent of the attorneys working in Pennsylvania offices of the state’s largest 100 firms, according to data provided to Legal affiliate PaLaw 2012. That is a slight dip compared to the 2011 data in which 6 percent of the state lawyer population was minority.
There were 93 firms that provided breakdowns of their minority lawyers. There were 7,586 lawyers working at those firms as of June 2012 and 432 of those lawyers were minorities, for a total of 5.7 percent.
Minorities comprise 36.6 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the 2011 U.S. Census data. That figure falls to 20.8 percent when looking at Pennsylvania’s total population.
The minority lawyer figures in the state drop dramatically when looking at minority partners as a percentage of the Pennsylvania lawyer population.
Of the 7,586 lawyers working full-time in the state’s largest firms, 1.5 percent are minority partners.
Overall minority numbers fell slightly from 2011, at which point 6 percent of Pennsylvania lawyers were minorities. The partner percentage improved just slightly from 2011, when 1.4 percent of the attorneys in the state’s largest law firms were minority partners.
The Philadelphia Diversity Law Group has spent more than a decade looking to improve the hiring and retention of minority attorneys in the city and the region. The immediate past presidents, Lilton R. Taliaferro Jr. and Danielle Banks, and the newly elected co-presidents, Sophia Lee and Wesley Payne, reviewed the figures collected in PaLaw.
“We recognize that the state of diversity is reflected in these numbers, which still leave much to be desired, even as the overall number of diverse attorneys appears to be trending upwards,” the leaders said in response to the numbers. “These numbers tell us that there is much work that needs to be done by our profession and, in particular, by the leadership.”
Along with the PDLG’s efforts to advance the hiring and retention of minority attorneys, the leadership said it was also concerned with the establishment of best practices within its member organizations to ensure diverse attorneys are hired, retained and promoted.
“By monitoring these issues closely, we believe that the numbers of diverse attorneys, including diverse partners, will continue to trend upwards,” the leadership said in a statement.
The numbers in Pennsylvania, according to PaLaw statistics, have trended upwards from 10 years ago, albeit slowly.
While the number of minority lawyers in Pennsylvania has remained relatively flat over the past two years, it was at 4.6 percent in 2002, according to PaLaw 2002 data.
The data also shows there were some firms that made substantial improvements in their minority numbers while others made no improvements at all, holding back the overall growth rate in minority attorney numbers.
Topping off the 2012 ranking of firms based on the percent of full-time minority attorneys in Pennsylvania was DLA Piper. Of the 35 full-time attorneys in the international firm’s Philadelphia office, seven, or 20 percent, are minority lawyers. There are two minority partners and five minority associates in the office.
James Brogan, head of DLA Piper’s Philadelphia office, said the firm has been successful in hiring and retaining minorities because of the atmosphere in the firm generally, and more specifically in Philadelphia.
By its nature, with more than 4,000 lawyers across the globe, diversity is a part of DLA Piper’s culture, he said. Brogan said the Philadelphia office in particular is very welcoming. He said he can’t pinpoint exactly how the numbers turned out the way they did.
“The bottom line is the firm is always looking for highly qualified, capable people and minorities are no exception to that,” Brogan said.
DLA Piper is followed by RatnerPrestia, where 18.5 percent of the firm’s Pennsylvania attorneys are minority lawyers. Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy came in third with 11.86 percent of its headcount who were minority lawyers.
At the bottom of the list is Pittsburgh-based Babst Calland. Of the firm’s 94 full-time attorneys in Pennsylvania, there was one minority associate, or 1.06 percent of the firm’s overall headcount.
Of the 100 largest law firms in the state, 20 firms have no minority attorneys. Those firms range in overall headcount in Pennsylvania from 24 lawyers to as large as 77 lawyers in the state. Seven of the 100 largest firms did not provide data on minority headcount numbers.
In 2002, the top spots looked quite different when it came to the percentages that earned the first few spots on the list. Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller was ranked first in 2002 with 10.53 percent of its 38 lawyers who were minorities. Hangley Aronchick was the only firm in 2002 in which more than 10 percent of its lawyers were minorities. In 2012, nine firms had more than 10 percent of their lawyers who were minorities.
Hangley Aronchick was ranked 32nd this year as minorities comprised 6.52 percent of the firm’s 46 lawyers in Pennsylvania.
Ben Seal of TheLegal staff contributed reporting to this story.