Legal Profession


2019 NALP Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



lawyer demographics, race and ethnicity, gender


Women and people of color continued to make incremental gains in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2019 compared with 2018, according to the latest law firm demographic findings from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). In another bright spot from 2019—Black or African-American representation among associates has finally surpassed the 2009 figures for the first time since the Great Recession, albeit by just one-tenth of a percentage point. However, the percentage of associates that are Black or African-American women remains slightly below the 2009 figure, despite increasing one-quarter of a percentage point in 2019. NALP’s recent analyses of the 2019-2020 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP — shows that women and people of color continued to make small improvements in their representation among law firm partners in 2019. While the overall percentage of women associates has decreased almost as often as not since 2009, it has been on a steady rise for the past four consecutive years. Likewise, the percentage of Black or African-American associates has declined in more years than not since 2009, while also increasing in each of the past four years. Women accounted for the majority of all summer associates (52.66%) for the second year in a row.

There are several new and expanded tables within the report this year. The trend data in Table 1 now dates back to 1993. Counsel and non-traditional track/staff attorneys have also been added to Table 1 and more detailed 2019 data for these lawyer categories are presented in Table 7. Additionally, for the first time this report includes findings on the demographics of equity partners, which are reported in Tables 3–5. It is important to note that this information is reported in the NDLE separately from the demographics grid information used for the other analyses in this report. Table 13 is a new trend table on LGBT lawyers and Table 14 presents, for the first time in this report, data on lawyers who are military veterans.