ILNews

Legal profession lags in diversity as compared to other professions

Jennifer Nelson
December 11, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Minority employment in the legal profession has grown significantly slower as compared to certain medical and business professions, according to a study released by Microsoft Corp.

The computer software giant commissioned the study to compare the rates of diversity in comparable professions: accountants and auditors; financial managers; and physicians and surgeons. These professions have similar requirements as the legal community such as broad education or licensing requirements.
 
Between 2003 and 2012, the percentage of underrepresented minorities – African-Americans and Hispanics – who are attorneys grew only 0.8 percent. The percentage of underrepresented minorities who worked as financial managers grew nearly six percent from 2003 to 2012. The percentage of doctors, as well as auditors and accountants, also saw larger increases over that same nine-year period as compared to the lawyers.

The percentage of underrepresented minorities in each of these professions lags behind the national workforce. In 2012, people of color made up nearly one-third of the labor force. According to the study, the gap between diversity in the legal profession and diversity in the U.S. has worsened over the past nine years.

“Unless the legal profession makes faster progress, it will miss the dynamism and creativity that diversity brings to other fields. We risk failure in having a profession that is as diverse as the country we serve – a prerequisite for healthy legal service for a democracy,” said Brad Smith, general counsel & executive vice president, legal & corporate affairs at Microsoft.

The study questions why careers in medicine and business have less of a diversity gap than the law. It points out there are no national scholarships on the scale of the medical and business fields and license passage rates are significantly higher in the medical fields.

The study suggests that financial support should be provided to enable all students to adequately prepare for the bar exam, and that bar prep be part of the standard law school curriculums.

“While many law firms, in-house legal departments and others helpfully are increasing development, mentoring and growth opportunities for under-represented minorities, evidence shows that we continue to lose out on the chance to recruit many promising professionals before they begin their career,” Smith said. “For example, the only national study of bar passage rates (LSAC, 1998) revealed that more than 20 percent of African Americans and more than 10 percent of Hispanic/Latino law students never passed the bar, compared to less than 5 percent of white law students. If African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos passed the bar at the same rate as whites (96.7 percent), this would have the same impact as increasing the number of African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos in law school by 18 percent.”

Smith calls on states to publish pass-fail rates broken down by ethnic background of the test takers.

Microsoft also suggests making alternative degrees available that are more flexible than full-time programs, as well as expand admissions criteria that consider attributes and experiences in addition to test metrics.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • As the article says
    Seems pretty straightforward to me, and quite in keeping with tyranny, American style: "The invitation stated in no uncertain terms that white people could not attend. It instructed recipients with the right skin colors to reply seeking the highly confidential date and time of the happy hour. The email did have some advice for white recipients, though. “If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that,” it read. Diversity and Equity Center staffer Karama Blackhorn, a multi-pierced woman with a long, thin braid, helped write the invitation. “That space is not for white people,” she told KING-TV. “That space is for people of color.” Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/12/taxpayer-funded-community-college-bans-white-people-from-staff-happy-hour/#ixzz2wQ06yQNA
  • keep movin snowflake
    Let's be honest what this phony word "diversity" means. It means "too many white guys." I wonder all you white guys that just see this and keep moving and never open your yaps to complain over this-- do you think that when you are out-voted, and out-gunned, and the big money is lined up against you, as surely is coming as your numbers dwindle, will anybody in the new "diverse" majority establish quotas for your or bother much to treat you fairly? Or will you have to keep paying and endless price for the oppression of yesteryears. Will the price keep on going up, the weaker and more chicken you get?
  • Quite the Diversity Officer
    So how many like this are pushing diversity politics in the Indiana judiciary and print journalism? http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/12/taxpayer-funded-community-college-bans-white-people-from-staff-happy-hour/2/
  • Diversify!
    We then maybe we just need to take things up a few notches to make diversity work as intended. Like this: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/12/taxpayer-funded-community-college-bans-white-people-from-staff-happy-hour/

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT
    Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
    1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

    2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

    3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

    4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

    5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

    ADVERTISEMENT