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Tradionalists, beware. Perhaps now more than ever before, lawyers and law firms need to adapt if they are to survive in tomorrow’s increasingly competitive marketplace. That much was evident from a daylong forum Oct. 29 on the future of the legal profession, held at Yale Law School. Not only is there an ever-increasing number of lawyers fighting for a finite amount of business but attorneys have to worry about clients getting their legal representation on the Internet or simply joining the growing legion of pro se litigants, to say nothing of lawyers outside the state looking to creep in to Connecticut’s legal market without burdening themselves with obtaining a state Bar license, speakers at the symposium decried. For law firms, an additional struggle will be to take advantage of an increasingly diverse bar by recruiting and promoting women and minority lawyers while fighting the forces that push up-and-coming legal talent to head off into other professions. In the 1950s, there were 200,000 lawyers in the United States; now there are over 1 million, according to Roger C. Cramton, former dean and professor emeritus of Cornell Law School. The increase is fivefold while the nation’s population during that span merely doubled. “The growth rate will probably continue,” though legal generalists will go more and more the way of the dinosaur, Cramton said. The percentage of women in the profession increased from 4 percent in 1960 to 43 percent today. Minorities, meanwhile, now account for 15 percent of the Bar. Still, women and minorities “rarely” make partner in large law firms, Cramton said. Indeed, gender and race bias persists, said Andrea Barton Reeves, an East Windsor, Conn., attorney who gave an address on the topic. Well more than half of Reeves’s New York Law School Class of 1997 were women, but the number of minority classmates was “painfully” small, she said. “Race continues to divide the United States in ways we do not want to admit,” she said. Reeves, who is African-American, recalled how she recently went to court and was asked by the court clerk where her lawyer was. She was the lawyer. “We have to embrace discomfort so we can think critically to make changes,” she urged the crowd. According to “After the JD,” an ongoing study by the American Bar Foundation and the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education, female attorneys can still expect to earn less than their male counterparts across all sectors of the legal industry, except governmental work. In private firms of 21 to 100 lawyers, females make $10,000 less than the men, while in firms of 251 or more, the gap widens to $15,000, the study found. Minorities don’t always face the same salary differential. According to the study, in firms containing 21 to 100 lawyers, the median income for white lawyers is $95,000, while for Hispanic lawyers it’s $100,000, for black lawyers it’s $110,000 and for Asian lawyers it’s $135,000.

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