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Diversity and inclusion are so often discussed in the business world that they are becoming buzz words. Unfortunately, in the legal profession, the “buzz” seems to be just that: noise. Law firms and the legal profession, generally, are notoriously ­stagnant (and even falling behind) in diversity. While most lawyers agree that it is an important initiative—the question becomes, how do we bridge the divide?

Addressing the problem begins with acknowledging that it exists. According to the National Association of Law Placement’s 2016 Report on Diversity, about 22 percent of partners are women and 8 percent are minorities. Available at www.nalp.org/uploads/2016NALPReportonDiversityinUSLawFirms.pdf. While the numbers have been increasing for the past decade, accurate representation remains just a goal. The same report said that of all partners in 2016, only 3.1 percent were Asian, 1.8 percent were African American, and 2.3 percent were Hispanic. While using statistics never showcases the entirety of an issue, these figures clearly outline the glaring disparity—and lack of diversity—in firms, certainly at the partnership level. This report is more promising regarding associates, with numbers jumping to 45 percent being women and 22.7 percent being minorities. According to the article, “while the relatively high levels of diversity among the summer associate classes is always encouraging, the fact that representation falls off so dramatically for associates, and then again for partners, underscores that retention and promotion remain the primary challenges that law firms face with respect to diversity.”

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