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Thompson & Knight managing partner Peter J. Riley is tired of talking about diversity-he wants action. Riley says the Dallas-based firm is able to hire minority lawyers, but not retain them. “What we haven’t done is hire somebody out of law school, have them stay with the firm and make partner,” he said. “If you look at that, you think there’s something we need to be doing differently.” So the firm is changing tactics. It has hired Pauline E. Higgins, an attorney with a statewide reputation as a diversity advocate, to fill the firm’s newly created position of chief diversity officer. But Thompson & Knight isn’t the only firm doing things differently in the diversity arena. One large Texas firm has used recent growth to move women lawyers into leadership roles, while another firm has created a minority scholarship program, and yet another firm builds relationships with minority students early in their academic careers. As in many of Texas’ largest firms, women comprise about 30% of Thompson & Knight’s lawyers, which correlates with the percentage of women licensed to practice law in the state, according to the State Bar of Texas. The bar’s membership numbers are as of December 2004, the most recent data available. But when it comes to minorities, the firm lags behind: Only 10.3% of its lawyers are minorities in a state where 14% of attorneys are minorities. Minorities make up 7.7% of Thompson & Knight’s partnership. Minorities edge up Overall, the percentage of minority lawyers in Texas’ largest firms edged upward just a bit in 2006, to 11.1% from 10.7% in 2005. Minorities comprise 6% of the partnership ranks, up slightly from 5.6% in 2005, and they comprise 15.8% of the associates, compared with 15.5% the previous year. The survey includes only attorneys in the firms’ U.S. offices. Women account for 30.7% of the U.S. lawyers at the largest firms, similar to the 31.1% at the same firms last year. Women also make up 17.6% of the partners and 42.8% of the associates, compared with 17.1% and 42.2% last year, respectively. The state’s 25 largest firms were surveyed by Texas Lawyer, an affiliate of The National Law Journal. Twenty-four of the firms provided 2006 U.S. lawyer counts as of Jan. 1, 2006, and 23 of the firms provided 2005 U.S. lawyer data as of Jan. 1, 2005. Austin, Texas-based Brown McCarroll declines to report its numbers. Cox Smith Matthews did not provide 2005 data. In those instances where total 2006 numbers are compared with total 2005 numbers, Cox Smith’s 2006 numbers are not included. Of the 10,396 U.S. lawyers at the 24 reporting Texas firms, 3,183 are women and 1,152 are minorities. Thirteen of the firms increased the percentage of minority lawyers at their firms in 2006, while eight firms increased their percentage of female lawyers.

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