It’s no wonder why communities of color make such a big deal out of the Loretta Lynch’s and Marilyn Mosby’s of the world: there isn’t enough diversity to go around.
A new study by released by the Bureau of Labor statistics found that law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the country. A whopping 88 percent of U.S. lawyers are white.
The legal profession has produced the likes of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, yet even they are an anomaly when you consider the numbers. It’s no wonder by President Obama made it a point to nominate two women to the U.S. Supreme Court, including Sonia Sotomayor, who is Latina.
As pointed by the Washington Post:
The legal profession supplies presidents, governors, lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, general counsels, and heads of corporate, government, nonprofit and legal organizations. Its membership needs to be as inclusive as the populations it serves.
Part of the problem is a lack of consensus that there is a significant problem. Many lawyers believe that barriers have come down, women and minorities have moved up, and any lingering inequality is a function of different capabilities, commitment and choices.
Although Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans now make about a third of the population and a fifth of law school graduates, they make up fewer than 7 percent of law firm partners and 9 percent of general counsels of large corporations, the Post reports. In major law firms, only 3 percent of associates and less than 2 percent of partners are African Americans.
Those numbers are quite sobering and put a nail in the coffin on the argument of whether the industry has done enough to promote and exercise diversity.
The Post suggests that the exclusion of minorities and women in networking and mentoring circles could be to blame.
“In American Bar Association research, 62 percent of women of color and 60 percent of white women, but only 4 percent of white men, felt excluded from formal and informal networking opportunities,” the Post reports. “Such networking is often crucial to building client and collegial relationships that are essential to advancement.”
Equal opportunity may exist in theory, but clearly there’s a broken system here.
(Photos from left: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Andrew Burton/Getty Images, Allison Shelley/Getty Images)