Locke Lord Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Paulette Brown, a Senior Partner in the Firm’s Princeton office, co-authored the American Bar Association (ABA) study “Left Out and Left Behind: The Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women of Color.” It was determined that there should be a parallel study to the 2019 ABA study “Walking Out the Door” to highlight specific challenges unique to the long-term careers of women of color in the legal profession. Brown, former President of the ABA, was quoted by Law360 from the study’s preface, which reveals additional challenges faced by women of color because the layer of race compounds gender bias.
"When there are not enough women of color to collect data that is statistically significant, it leaves the door open for doubting and excuses," Brown, and co-author Eileen Letts, said. "There is one statistic, however, that has not changed over the course of the past 20 years: Women of color represent approximately 2% of all equity partners at large law firms." Women, overall, represent approximately 20% of all equity partners, the study found.
The study also found about 15% of all associates are women of color, but they have the highest rate of attrition. Among the barriers that women of color have continued to experience are bias, stereotyping and microaggressions.
To enact more change and keep more women of color within the ranks of the legal industry, the report said, among other strategies, law firms need to implement bias-interrupting policies and procedures for both hiring and advancing attorneys.
To read the Law360 article, click here (subscription may be required). To read the full ABA report, click here.