For black lawyers, the country's top law firms are lonely places, according to a newly released tally.
Black lawyers accounted for 3 percent of lawyers at big firms last year, a percentage that has declined in each of the last five years. And the proportion of black partners at such law firms remained stagnant at 1.9 percent during the same period, according to the 2013 diversity scorecard published in the June issue of The American Lawyer.
Even as other professions and even other parts of the legal profession, including corporate counsel jobs, have opened up to more minorities, the presence of black lawyers and black partners at the elite firms fell. Their representation in the most lucrative tiers of the law world remains the same as in 2000.
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In contrast, other minorities are claiming a larger presence in the big legal firms, with Asian-Americans taking the biggest share of positions and Hispanics the next largest share, surpassing blacks for the first time. The findings were based on figures provided by 223 large law firms.
According to those firms, which were either among the nation's top 200 firms for gross revenue or among the largest 250 firms by number of employees, there were 2,943 black lawyers out of a total of 98,504 employed full time or the equivalent.
Asian-American lawyers reached 6.3 percent of the big firm lawyers but represented only 2.7 percent of those at the top-earning level of partner. Hispanic lawyers accounted for 3.2 percent of lawyers and 2.3 percent of partners at these firms.