Building a Better Legal Profession :: The Old Blog

Which firms get an F for diversity? by andrewbruck
October 29, 2007, 9:28 am
Filed under: Law reform

Find out here, thanks to Diversity, Inc.:

Stanford law students are fed up with the lack of diversity within the legal profession. What are they doing about it? Does affirmative action work at law firms? Read this to find out.

Diversity, Inc., a magazine and website which covers issues involving race and employment just sent out an e-mail to all of their subscribers encouraging them to check us out. Wonderful!


Googlers: Looking for our new site? by andrewbruck
October 29, 2007, 9:17 am
Filed under: Law reform

Over the weekend, we moved our rankings to a new and vastly improved website, which is housed at Since the site is brand new, there aren’t enough incoming links to it for the website to show up when you type the name of our organization into Google. If you were searching for us online, you probably ended up here instead. Anyway, click on the link above to see all of information. Thanks!

Cited in the Associated Press by andrewbruck
October 28, 2007, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Blogroll

Well, we’re quickly becoming the industry standard for ranking law firms by demographic diversity. We were cited in today’s Associated Press article on the lack of black lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court:

Coming soon to the Supreme Court: a rare appearance by a black lawyer. More than a year has passed since a black lawyer in private practice stood at the lectern in the elegant courtroom and spoke the traditional opening line, “Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court.”

…Several factors account for the dearth of minorities at the court: continuing problems in recruiting and retaining blacks and other minorities at the top law firms; the rise of a small group of lawyers who focus on Supreme Court cases; the decline in civil rights cases that make it to the high court; and the court’s dwindling caseload.

“It breaks my heart. It’s the minority pipeline, the dwindling caseload, all of these things,” Days told The Associated Press.

Days said he, too, has trouble attracting black lawyers to his firm. He recounted how he lost out to a philanthropic foundation over the services of a former clerk for a Supreme Court justice.

Two recent studies point up the trends. Of 46 Washington law offices with more than 100 attorneys, 28 reported that less than 3 percent of their partners are black. Seven firms had no black partners, according to a report by Building a Better Legal Profession, a group of law students who compiled data provided by the firms.

Morrison & Foerster’s Washington office, where Days works, has just two black partners, although that placed the firm fourth in the Washington rankings at 5.6 percent. Blacks are better represented among associates at these firms.

When reporters need information about diversity at firms, they turn to us. We’re glad to be providing a useful service.

Michigan Lawyers & Part-Time Practice by refirm2007
October 28, 2007, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Law reform

Interesting, potentially controversial new findings out from Ken Dau-Schmidt et al. about part-time lawyers.

In a nutshell, we find that childcare responsibilities drive much of the differences in income and promotion experienced by men and women lawyers, and that men who miss paid work to do childcare experience the same disadvantages as women who miss paid work to do childcare. We also find that both more men and more women lawyers are missing paid work to do childcare, that they are taking longer absences from paid work to do childcare, and they are working less hours after they return to their careers.

Some of our less systematic, but more curious findings are that: in part male lawyers earn more than women lawyers because they are more interested in income than the woman lawyers; women who have kids but who do not miss paid work to do childcare are more likely to be in private practice and be a partner than women without kids, even though women without kids work more hours; and women who miss paid work to do childcare have significantly higher LSAT’s and GPA’s than women who don’t miss paid work to do childcare.

The study uses the Michigan Law alumni survey, which according to the authors is “one of the richest and largest data sets available on lawyers over much of the period that encompassed women’s move into the legal profession.”

Two Firms Come Forward: “Mistakes Were Made” by refirm2007
October 28, 2007, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Job Search Tools

As a result of our project, several firms have decided to double-check their NALP reporting.  It turns out that a couple did not accurately report their statistics.  Sidley’s New York office, for example, sent us the following email:

In perusing your very detailed and comprehensive rankings, I became aware of an error on our part that was carried through to our rankings. In our New York office as of Feb. 1 2007, we had six (6) openly LGBT associates who for some reason were not reported on our NALP form. Needless to say, they are very distressed at this omission, and the additional consequence of seeing their office receive an “F” in ranking the number of lgbt associates.

Sidley has revised its NALP form and is committed to better reporting on its February 1, 2008 NALP survey.

Patton Boggs in DC found that it too had made an error, this time in pro bono participation figures.  The firm’s initial NALP response had its pro bono participation figures among the lowest in the country — suggesting that only 2% of the firm’s partners contributed to pro bono.

Fortunately, this was a mistake, and Patton now reports that 53.8% of partners and 85.2% of associates do pro bono work.  According to Mary Kimber, the firm’s Chief Marketing Officer:

It is my understanding that the confusion arose over the way the question was posited. The numbers that were in the NALP survey (and in error) were actually the percentage of pro bono hours worked vs. billable hours worked, rather than the percentage of participation. I hope that this clears up any misunderstanding and errors in the NALP survey and on the blog. Patton Boggs is proud of its commitment to pro bono and we appreciate you reporting on the correction of the NALP survey results.

To the best of our knowledge, no other firm made this kind of interpretative error.

A major goal of building a better legal profession is to encourage firms to prioritize full and accurate reporting on NALP forms.  We’re glad that these firms have renewed their commitments to such reporting, and look forward to publishing their updated numbers in our 2008 rankings.

Suspect Rankings, continued by refirm2007
October 25, 2007, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Job Search Tools

Our post on Multicultural Law mag struck a chord — is this just the tip of the iceberg?  Said PT-Law Mom,

It’s these types of misrepresentations that also make it hard for women to choose a law firm.  The rankings in Working Mother magazine (Best Places to Work) seem suspect.  I have several friends at Pillsbury Winthrop who have found that the much-touted “part-time program” ends up being more of a “work full-time hours for less pay to meet client demands”.  Pillsbury (and other firms) buy huge ads in Working Mother and, amazingly enough, they appear year after year.  Worth looking at, I’d say.


More on this soon.

Correction by refirm2007
October 25, 2007, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Blogroll

Since we’re big on transparency, we also need to acknowledge places where we’ve gone wrong. And in an early draft of our rankings, our female partnership numbers for Northern California were incorrect.

Specifically, although we assigned Howard Rice their correct ranking (#2 in the Bay), the firm’s female partnership rate should have read 28.6%.  In our first draft of the online rankings, the Bay Area female partnership numbers were listed with data points from another market.  We corrected the mistake the evening of October 10, 2007, but were not able to make the change in time for an article in The Recorder.

We regret the error, have notified the paper, and apologized to Howard Rice.