Legal profession lags in diversity as compared to other professions

Jennifer Nelson
December 11, 2013
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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.


  • 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:
  • 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?
  • Diversify!
    We then maybe we just need to take things up a few notches to make diversity work as intended. Like this:

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    1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

    2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

    3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

    4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

    5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.