Legal Profession

Title

2021 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date

1-2022

Keywords

lawyer demographics, race and ethnicity, gender

Abstract

Overall, women and people of color continued to make measured progress in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2021 as compared with 2020, according to the latest demographic findings from NALP’s recent analyses of the 2021 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE)—the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. Gains were particularly evident at the summer associate level where the percentage of summer associates of color grew by nearly 5 percentage points to more than 41% of all summer associates in 2021 and women of color now make up one-quarter of all summer associates. The representation of women, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals among summer associates in 2021 is more on par with, and in many cases, exceeds that of the most recent law school graduating classes. These data suggest the opportunity for continued diversification within the associate ranks in the years to follow.

Although the percentages of Black partners, associates, and lawyers overall increased in 2021, representation of Black lawyers in law firms still trails that of Asian and Latinx lawyers and those gaps have widened over time. While the percentage of associates overall who are Latinx has exceeded that of Black associates since 2015, the percentage of associates who were Latinx women (3.25%) surpassed that of Black women (3.17%) for the first time in 2021.

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