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Minority lawyers make slow gains

Publication Date: 
November 24, 2010
Source: 
Philadelphia Business Journal
Author: 
Jeff Blumenthal

While their collective numbers have gradually improved in recent years, Philadelphia law firms still trail the nation — and every major city — when it comes to minority lawyer representation, according to an annual study released this month by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP).

Among 17 responding firms with Philadelphia offices, 8.92 percent of the combined 2,411 lawyers were minorities, up slightly from 8.5 percent in 2009 and the 6.5 percent listed five years ago. But those numbers trail the national average of 12.4 percent, which decreased for the first time since NALP began compiling it, albeit slightly (12.59 percent in 2009).

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Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, the faculty adviser for Building a Better Legal Profession, noted that in virtually every market there is a bottom 25 percent of firms not performing well with diversity. But, she said, Philadelphia law firms are a “virtual rogues gallery in the area of racial diversity.” She noted that black law students comprise about 10 percent of classes at every elite law school and yet two local firms have just one black associate in Philadelphia. Two firms have no Hispanic associates here.