Diversity rankings

May 11, 2009
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The Minority Law Journal released its annual diversity scorecard for the 250 largest and highest-grossing law firms in the country and the three Indiana firms on the list ended up closer to the bottom than the top in their rankings.

Baker & Daniels and Barnes & Thornburg were close on the list, coming in at 175 and 177 respectively. Ice Miller cracked the top-200 at 199.

Just like U.S. News and World Report, Minority Law Journal changed its methodology this year, leading to dramatic jumps or drops for some firms. The journal added each responding firm’s percentage of minority attorneys to its percentage of minority partners to come up with the firm’s diversity score. Previously, it just counted how many total minority attorneys were at the firm.

It’s worth a note that not every firm contacted by the journal participated, including Taft Stettinius & Hollister. The complete listings and methodology can be found here.

According to the survey, a little more than 6 percent of all of Baker & Daniels U.S. attorneys are minorities; 5 percent are partners. Barnes & Thornburg has a bigger percentage of minority U.S. attorneys at 7.6 percent, but has 3.4 percent as partners. Ice Miller faired the lowest of the three Indiana firms on the list, with 5.7 percent of all U.S. attorneys being minorities and 1.7 percent of partners being minorities.

In terms of the diversity of the diversity, again, Baker had the most with at least one partner represented from each of the listed minorities in the survey: African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, and other minority/those who identify themselves as multiracial. Barnes & Thornburg has African-American and Asian-American partners and Ice Miller has African-American partners.

So what does this all mean? As always, you have to take these surveys with a grain of salt. It’s hard to compare an Indiana firm to one in California or New York, which typically has a more diverse population and larger cities. In fact, the top firms on this list come from San Francisco, Irvine, Calif., New York City, and Los Angeles. The number one ranked firm is from Palo Alto, Calif. Firms that came in with comparable or lower rankings than the Indiana firms typically were in markets of comparable or smaller sizes than Indianapolis, where all three Indiana firms are based.

But that doesn’t mean our firms can’t learn from their rankings and use it as another tool to increase diversity here. Indiana firms still have a way to go until they are more representative of the general population. Granted, there are typically more white attorneys than other races here; however, they are more minority attorneys than what is represented by the partner ranks in our state’s firms, or even the associate numbers.

Bottom line is Indiana firms aren’t the worst in the country but we still have room for improvement.
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  • I disagree that these types of surveys should be taken with a grain of salt. I think there are valid reasons as to why the three Indiana firms noted in the survey are at the bottom of the list, and I don\'t think you can dismiss those reasons by citing how other cities have more diverse populations. Indianapolis has a sufficient number of minority attorneys for these firms to have better diversity numbers. This is evident by looking at the recruiting results of these firms, as at least two of these firms have had a critical mass of diverse attorneys in recent years. However, the problem is that although the firms do a decent job of recruiting diverse attorneys, they fail to implement measures to retain these attorneys. Perhaps firms in more diverse cities do a better job of retaining diverse attorneys because those firms have a culture that is more accepting and inclusive of diverse attorneys, rather than a culture that perpetrates the good \'ole boys club, as is the case with many Indianapolis firms.

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