OF THIS ISSUE
Mentoring Across Differences: A Guide to
Cross-Gender and Cross-Race Mentoring
Other Diversity-Related Studies:
NALP Foundation: Keeping the Keepers II
Diversity in Law Firms
of Justice: Analysis of Diversity in the Attorney Workforce
Year to one and all! I hope the year is off to a great start for you and
that it brings health, happiness and prosperity your way.
of this issue of Management Solutions is diversity, and we feature
four studies that deal with women and minority lawyers in the profession.
am excited to announce an important new resource: Mentoring
Across Differences: A Guide to Cross-Gender and Cross-Race Mentoring.
This guidebook contains findings and recommendations based on a study
that I conducted with Dr. Rita Boags for the Minority Corporate Counsel
Association (MCCA). The study is receiving national attention and was
recently mentioned in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/18/jobs/18exli.html.
Three other studies
also address diversity in the legal profession, directly or indirectly:
- A NALP Foundation
study that describes associate attrition rates and patterns, including
attrition among women and minority lawyers,
- A study of diversity
in law firms conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
that shows that women and minority lawyers face greater difficulties
than white men in becoming partners, and
- A comprehensive
study of lawyer diversity in the Department of Justice that found the
DOJ's lawyers are more diverse than the U.S. legal workforce,
but that minorities are significantly underrepresented in management
January is National Mentoring Month. This is a good time to become a mentor
for a young lawyer or law student, or to participate in a community-based
mentoring program for children and adolescents. Becoming a mentor is a
great way for you to have a positive influence on someone's life.
Reach out to a promising young lawyer in your firm. Contact your local
law schools and bar associations to find law students or lawyers interested
in having a mentor. To be a mentor for a child or teenager, visit www.mentoring.org
to find mentoring opportunities in your community.
Across Differences: A Guide to Cross-Gender and Cross-Race Mentoring
Studies of the legal profession consistently show that one of the significant
barriers to the advancement of women and minority lawyers is the inability
of these lawyers to find mentors. Our study looked at women and minority
lawyers in law firms and corporate law departments who had successful
mentoring relationships. We wanted to learn how these lawyers found, formed,
and sustained meaningful mentoring relationships across gender and race.
The study results have significant implications for law firm diversity
efforts and for individual lawyers of both genders and all races.
Here are a few of
our key findings:
- Women and minority
lawyers who understood the value of mentoring and actively sought mentors
were able to find mentors to meet various needs and goals throughout
- While lawyers
preferred informal mentoring, 90% of participants who were matched in
formal mentoring programs were satisfied with their mentoring experience.
- Mentors viewed
their time and energy as expensive assets and the mentoring process
as an investment of those assets. They invested in lawyers who they
believed would produce a high return, i.e., those whom they saw as "winners"
- Many women and
minority lawyers were not aware of what potential mentors expected from
them. This lack of knowledge may be one of the key reasons why women
and minority lawyers do not experience mentoring to the same degree
as white men.
- Mentoring programs
and diversity initiatives helped create an environment that fostered
cross-gender and cross-race mentoring. However, participants felt that
firms did not provide adequate guidelines, training, or coordination
of these programs and initiatives.
to discussing the study's findings and their implications, Mentoring
Across Differences presents practical recommendations for
lawyers who wish to have mentors; for mentors of women and minority lawyers;
and for legal employers who wish to promote mentoring in their organizations.
Corporate Counsel Association, which sponsored the study as part of its
Creating Pathways to Diversity® series, has not
only published our report, it has also made the report available in PDF
You can request a copy of Mentoring Across Differences
from MCCA at (202) 371-5908 or via email.
PDF files require
Acrobat Reader to view and print. Reader can be downloaded free from Adobe.
studies address the continuing high attrition and low promotion rates
of women and minority lawyers in private and government practice.
the Keepers II: Mobility & Management of Associates, The NALP Foundation
(Washington, DC, 2003), www.nalp.org.
This report is a follow-up to the NALP Foundation's seminal 1997
study of associate attrition, Keeping the Keepers. This new
study examined associate hiring and departure patterns for the period
1998-2003. It found that the overall attrition rate for entry-level
associates remains high: 53.4% within the first five years of employment.
The departure rates for minority lawyers were significantly higher:
68% of minority men and 64.4% of minority women left within four and
half years. The report presents many findings that law firms should
consider in formulating professional development programs, retention
initiatives, and diversity programs.
in Law Firms, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2003), www.eeoc.gov.
The EEOC conducted a study to examine the changes in employment status
of women and minority lawyers in mid-size and large law firms since
1975. The study determined that the most pressing issue today for women
and minority lawyers in these firms is promotion to partnership. Using
statistical analysis, the EEOC determined that, although the presence
of women and minorities in law firms has increased dramatically since
1975, the odds of a woman or minority lawyer becoming a partner remain
significantly lower than for their white male counterparts. The EEOC
report is technical and dense, but has some useful data for those involved
in law firm diversity efforts.
of Diversity in the Attorney Workforce in the Department of Justice,
Final Report, June 14, 2002. In 2002, consulting firm KPMG conducted
a study of diversity practices at the Department of Justice. The DOJ
inexplicably refused to release KPMG's report until forced to
do so under the Freedom of Information Act, but it is now available
The report shows that DOJ lawyers are more diverse by race, ethnicity
and gender than the overall legal workforce. But as in law firms, the
representation of women and minority lawyers declines sharply at the
higher levels, with women and minorities underrepresented in senior
management ranks. Women and minority lawyers are also reported to be
more dissatisfied, and the attrition rate among minority lawyers was
almost 50% higher than among white lawyers. Although the report deals
with lawyers in a government practice setting, the findings, discussion,
and recommendations are for the most part relevant to law firms and
legal departments as well.
Ida Abbott Consulting
6114 La Salle Ave
Oakland, CA 94611