More Minorities Hired by Law Firms, Study Shows

Large law firms are hiring more minority associate attorneys, according to a recent national survey conducted by The American Bar Association (“ABA”). Specifically, large law firms hired more Asian, Black, and Hispanic associates in 2020 than they did the year prior. The ABA’s study further showed that, despite the number of equity partners that are minorities slowly increasing, the vast majority of law firm leaders are still white male attorneys.

ABA’s Model Diversity Survey
The study was the ABA’s second annual survey on diversity, referred to as the ABA Model Diversity Survey. The ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession (“CREDP”) conducted the nationwide study. The CREDP surveyed more than 285 law firms across the nation, comprising more than 100,000 lawyers. CREDP’s survey measured several aspects of the law firms including hiring, promotion, attrition, demographics, initiatives on diversity, and highest paid firm partners.
The reason behind the survey originated from an ABA resolution from 2016 urging the legal industry to expand opportunities for minority attorneys. The resolution further urged companies that use legal services to retain diverse lawyers for their needs. The report provides companies a way to assess a law firm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts–so that these companies can determine whom to hire for their legal needs. The ABA issued a public report that includes country-wide results and also private reports that compare law firms to one another on the issues surveyed.

ABA’s Diversity Survey Findings
While the ABA’s surrey does not make specific recommendations on how to approach diversity on the issues surveyed, some of its findings include:
● Large law firms hired 4% fewer white associate attorneys and instead hired 1.5% more Hispanics, nearly 1% more Blacks and 0.6% more Asian associate attorneys in 2020 when compared to 2019;
● According to the survey, in 2020 about 60% to 70% of law firm leaders were white male lawyers, with the number of leaders varying depending on the size of the law firm;
● When it came to minority law firm leaders, 20% to 50% were white females, 5% to 8% were ethnically and racially underrepresented males, and 2% to 5% were ethnically and racially underrepresented females;
● The large majority of equity partners were white attorneys–between 81% and 93%,
depending on firm size–in 2019, with the number decreasing by nearly 2% in 2020;
● While the number of HIspanic, Black, and multi-racial equity partners increased slightly
in 2020, the greatest rate of attrition was experienced by Black (23%) and Asian (19%)
lawyers and irrespective of firm size female lawyers experienced a higher attrition rate
(16%) than their male counter parts (11%).
● In 2020, most law firms did not hire any attorneys who self-identify as LGBTQ+, Native
American, Pacific Islander, or having a disability.
The ABA’s full diversity report can be accessed here.


If you need assistance with service of process, contact Ancillary Legal.

If you need assistance with court reporting, contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.