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Despite all the talk of boosting diversity in the legal profession, the percentage of minorities inched up from 9.7% in 2000 to 11.6% in 2009, according to a report by the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. The institute — a nonprofit formed in 2010 to advocate for more diversity in the legal profession — plans to release an annual review of attorney demographics and diversity. The Chicago-based group is led by a board that includes academics, law firm partners, corporate counsel, government attorneys and non-lawyers, and it receives financial support from law firms, corporations, bar associations and individuals. “The review contains comprehensive data — some encouraging; some troubling — on representation and other key measures,” wrote institute Chairman Marc Firestone, general counsel of Kraft Foods Inc. “A shared understanding of these data and a continued focus on the facts and figures is essential to finding and fixing problems.” The review was based on data from a number of sources, including academic studies and government statistics. In addition to diversity figures, the review included 11 essays on various topics, including the barriers Latinas face in the profession, the pressure black attorneys may feel to “act white,” the challenges people with disabilities face in law school and why more gay and lesbian attorneys are not “out” at their firms. There was no shortage of data and articles about diversity — or the lack thereof — in the legal profession, said New York Law School professor Elizabeth Chambliss, who compiled and reviewed the data cited in the report. “What has been missing, however, is communication and coordination,” Chambliss wrote. “Academic research gets too little attention from law firm managers and practicing lawyers. Law firm and law department efforts may get a fleeting media mention but rarely get systematic assessment or follow-up coverage. Public sector initiatives often go unnoticed. Bar association programs are developed in isolation from each other and without reference to the most recent data and research.” The institute aims to make it easier for those interested in diversity to stay on top of the latest data and initiatives across firms, bar associations, law schools and government. Among the report’s findings: • Women comprised 32.4% of the legal profession, but only 19.4% of firm partners, 26.8% of federal appellate judges and 20.6% of law school deans. • Blacks were the largest single minority group in the legal profession, at 4.7%, but their entry into the profession has slowed in recent years. Asians were a close second, at 4.1%. • The percentage of women and minorities graduating from law school has slowed. Blacks accounted for 7.5% of the 2001 graduating class, compared to 6.9% in 2009. The percentage of Hispanic law graduates ticked up slightly during that period, from 5.8% to 6.2%. • Comprehensive national data on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lawyers was lacking. Karen Sloan can be contacted at [email protected].

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