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Amid the numbers that fill this issue, the most significant may be one reported by Emily Barker: For the first time, more Asian Americans are partners in the nation’s large law firms than lawyers from any other racial or ethnic minority group. The statistics, published in the Diversity Scorecard of our Minority Law Journal ( minoritylawjournal.com), show 840 Asian American partners, 721 African American partners, and 689 Hispanic partners. This is a remarkable development. Overall, the number of minority partners has nearly doubled since the MLJ began keeping score six years ago. During this period, Asian Americans have been the most successful. Once essentially absent from the big-firm world, Asian Americans now constitute more than 5 percent of its lawyers. More Asian American associates were promoted to partner last year than African Americans and Hispanics combined. And this trend seems likely to continue. According to the American Bar Association, Asian Americans represent a bit more than one-third of all minority law students. And they win more seats at the most selective schools than other minorities. There is, as Barker points out, still considerable room for improvement. It should come with time, attention, and a bit of pressure. The clients will have to supply the pressure by asking firms to serve them with multihued teams. Time should work its magic: Significant numbers of Asian American associates are approaching partnership votes. Absent conscious or unconscious bias, firms will promote them in due course. The attention will have to be paid to an issue that is for the most part not of the profession’s making. To the cognoscenti, this is known as the “pipeline” problem. The pipeline is another gloss on supply and demand. Simply put, the law firms’ demand for able minority associates far outstrips supply. And supply, the argument goes, is crippled by serious leaks in the pipeline that feeds summer associate classes. This topic has already been the subject of lengthy learned papers and special bar conferences. As always, massaging the problem is not the same as dealing with it, which is why two recent meetings sponsored by Sullivan & Cromwell and Goldman Sachs have been so interesting. Called The Pipeline Crisis: Closing the Achievement Gap for Young Black Men, the sessions gathered a couple hundred bankers, lawyers, academics, and other fellow travelers interested in finding concrete projects and proposals they can support. “We want to tackle America’s growing social problem,” said William Snipes, an S&C partner who cochaired the events. In part, the meetings were born of a desire to get past the zero-sum competition for talent. “If I convince one recruit to come work for me instead of Roy Wilson [at Cravath], have I really affected diversity in the workplace?” he asked. (Both Snipes and Wilson are black.) The sessions were ambitious. They addressed a panoply of, pardon the expression, root causes: early childhood development, criminal justice failures, public education experiments. The challenge now is to shape an agenda that can harness the energy and muscle of the audience. The proposals may run from something relatively simple (a clearinghouse for pro bono efforts) to something more muscular (attempting to influence public policy). It’s a daunting prospect, even for a couple of mighty, private institutions. The next meeting is July 13 in New York. Snipes and his fellow litigator William Schroeder can use more help. There aren’t that many opportunities anymore for lawyer-statesmanship. Remember: A pipeline meeting is a terrible thing to waste.

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