Minorities in the Legal Field

In a recent study conducted by the Bureau of Labor statistics, researchers found that law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation with 88 percent of lawyers being white. Recent diverse appointments on the Supreme Court, the attorney general’s office, and in the executive branch seem to suggest that this field is growing more diverse, but the facts suggest otherwise. In a profession which intersects so often with representative government, it is important that it be as inclusive as the nation it serves.

Expanded statistics are alarming. Women make up a third of the field, but only about a fifth of law firm partners, law school deans, and Fortune 500 corporation general counsels, 17 percent of equity partners, and seven percent of chairman and managing partner positions in the 100 largest firms. Minorities fare badly as well, constituting about a third of the population and a fifth of law school graduates, but fewer than 7 percent of law firm partnerships and 9 percent of large corporation general counsels. A Washington Post study on surveying managers of Fortune 100 firms seems to suggest that even with these numbers in hand, the problem is a lack of concern.

Further studies have suggested that there absolutely is reason for concern. Women continue to face the double standard that their assertiveness in the work place is seen instead as abrasiveness, often leading to their dissatisfaction in finding greater responsibility, recognition, and advancement and networking opportunities. Minorities face such unconscious bias as well because they seemingly lack the presumption of competence granted to their majority counterparts. Such presumptions are harmful and have no place in our honorable field.

The solution lies in equal opportunity and creating a responsible environment for a growing diverse field. The numbers are obvious, but leaders must use this knowledge and actually hold themselves accountable for the results. These are not simply “women” or “minority” issues, but priorities for the entire field to further grow and unite. It is vital that leaders in the legal profession recognize and remedy this dilemma.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.