Economy’s effect on diversity

October 7, 2009
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According to the Minority Law Journal’s Minority Experience Study, minorities are feeling the effect of the economy worse than their Caucasian counterparts. The survey asked midlevel associates (third-, fourth-, and fifth-year associates) a series of questions, including whether they were actively seeking other jobs, whether they’d be at their current firm in two years, billable hours, and pay cuts.

According the survey, almost a third of African-American respondents, and nearly a quarter of Hispanic and Asian-American attorneys have high levels of anxiety at their firms about job security. Just over 20 percent of white associates reported high anxiety.

More minorities than whites said their workloads were too light, and minorities posted fewer billable hours than their white counterparts. This was true in last year’s survey, too, but a greater percentage of associates in all ethnic groups said the recession has affected them this year.

According to the survey, it appears black attorneys are having the most trouble with the current economic situation and its impact at firms. African-Americans reported changing practice areas because of the recession the least, were actively looking for another job more than any other group, and were more likely to view the way work is distributed at their firms as less fair than their colleagues.

Billable hours are down for every group, but as usual, the minorities still had fewer hours. You can read more about the survey here.

Also in the article on the study, some feared the economy is pushing firms backward in their diversity efforts and that any strides made over the last few years will be erased. Instead of putting time and resources into recruiting and retaining minority attorneys, firms are trying to find ways to slash costs and focus on keeping the companies profitable.

Are the sentiments the same at Indiana firms? Are minorities more affected and worried about the economy or are all attorneys feeling the same anxiety?
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