2023 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms
lawyer demographics, race and ethnicity, gender
Overall, women, people of color, and LGBTQ lawyers continued to see incremental improvements in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2023 as compared with 2022, according to the latest demographic findings from the analyses of the 2023 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP. For the first time ever, women made up the majority of associates in 2023, with that percentage likely to grow in the coming years. Another bright spot in this year’s report is the largest ever year-over-year increase in the percentage of associates of color — growing by 1.8 percentage points to 30.15%.
Additionally, women saw record annual growth at the partnership level — where they now comprise 27.76% of all partners (a 1.1 percentage point increase) and Black and Latina women each finally accounted for 1% of all partners for the first time in 2023. Despite these improvements, both women and people of color are particularly underrepresented within the partner ranks, with women of color accounting for less than 5% of partners overall.
While progress was made at the associate and partnership levels in 2023, for the first time since 2017 the percentage of summer associates of color declined. However, by both gender and race/ethnicity, summer associates are more diverse when compared to the demographics of recent law school graduates. After a large increase in the percentage of Black and multiracial summer associates in 2022, these were the only racial/ethnic groups to see a decline in representation at the summer associate level in 2023 — driving the overall decline in summer associates of color. The share of LGBTQ summer associates continued to grow at a much higher rate when compared to lawyers overall — with now almost 12% identifying as LGBTQ.
The tables and charts that follow provide an in-depth analysis of the state of diversity in U.S. law firms in 2023 and how these figures have changed over time.