Posted May 15th, 2016.
By Jacqueline Bell
Law360, New York (May 15, 2016, 8:26 PM ET) — For the second straight year, Law360 has ranked the 100 top U.S. law firms for minorities, based on the firm’s minority representation at the partner and nonpartner levels and its total number of minority attorneys.
The firms on this list have made some headway in shaking up a stubbornly bleak picture of diversity in the legal industry. Law360’s 2016 Diversity Snapshot revealed that less than 15 percent of attorneys at U.S. law firms surveyed by Law360 are minorities. Less than 9 percent of partners at U.S. law firms are minorities.
Those statistics have barely shifted from the year before, indicating that law firms continue to struggle to recruit and retain minority attorneys, despite the fact that the percentage of minorities attending elite law schools hovers around 30 percent, according to data compiled by the American Bar Association.
Law360 ranked firms by examining a variety of factors, including the percentage of partners, both equity and nonequity, who are minorities; the percentage of associate-level attorneys who are minorities; and the total number of minority attorneys at the firm. For the firms that nabbed spots on the list, the number of minorities at all levels of the firm shows that firm leaders are having at least some success in encouraging and supporting diversity.
At many of these 100 firms, minorities make up at least 15 percent of the partnership ranks, as compared with 8.4 percent across all U.S. firms surveyed by Law360, creating the prospect of a more diverse legal industry culture in years to come.
Leading the pack are full-service law firm White & Case and immigration boutique Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, closely followed by California-based firms Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, as well as immigration boutiqueFragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP. At those five firms, at least 30 percent of nonpartners are minorities, and at least 20 percent of partners are minorities.
Methodology: Law360 surveyed over 300 U.S. firms, or vereins with a U.S. component, about their overall and minority headcount numbers as of Dec. 31, 2015. Only U.S.-based attorneys were included in the survey. Firms are ranked based on three factors: 1) the percentage of partners, both equity and nonequity, who self-identify as minorities; 2) the percentage of nonpartners who self-identify as minorities; and 3) the number of attorneys at the firm who self-identify as minorities.