How to Even the Playing Field—Diversity, Inclusion and Retention in Law Firms

In this column, Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry shareholders answer questions about your partnership goals and what to do when you get there. This time, Jennifer W. Karpchuk, a partner in the firm’s SALT practice group, and Alissa Gipson, an employee in the firm’s tax dispute and planning practice, answered the question.

Q: Almost a year has passed since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and many conversations about diversity and inclusion have subsided – but the ubiquitous lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace remains an issue of immense concern. In July 2020, the American Bar Association (ABA) released its second annual Legal Profession Profile, which provides statistics and trends on the legal profession demographics. Since 2010, the number of lawyers has grown faster than the country’s population; however, the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities and women in the legal profession remains much lower than the respective percentage of the population in the country. However, there was progress: in 2019, colored lawyers made up almost 10% of law firm partners and 25% of law firm partners, compared to 6% and 20% in 2009. In 2020, 37% of lawyers were female, compared to 31% in 2010.

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