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The Best Law Firms For Diversity (2017)
Congratulations to these fine firms — especially those with top scores on multiple surveys.
Are you tired of the drumbeat of depressing news when it comes to diversity in large law firms? You re not alone.
It s important, of course, for the legal profession to be aware of the diversity challenges it faces. At the same time, it gets demoralizing to constantly hear about the failures. It would be nice to hear some success stories, right?
Cue the crew from Vault, which just issued their newest (i.e., 2017) rankings of the best law firms for diversity:
Vault.com has released its Law Firm Diversity Rankings for 2017, and Ropes Gray tops the list once again after ceding the Best Law Firm for Diversity accolade to Carlton Fields last year. Ropes Gray takes the No. 1 spot in two sub-categories as well, Diversity for LGBT Individuals and for Individuals with Disabilities.
Congrats to Ropes, which has been killing it lately in the Vault surveys. It showed up in the top 10 summer associate programs and took the #2 spot in the quality of life rankings (with #1 scores in the subcategories of firm culture and formal associate training).
The Vault rankings are based on associates rating how well their firm creates, maintains, and fosters a diverse workforce, with diversity construed as relating to minorities, women, LGBT individuals, individuals with disabilities, and military veterans. Vault ranks the top 25 firms for diversity; here are the top 10 (with last year s rank indicated parenthetically):
1. Ropes Gray (3)
2. Orrick, Herrington Sutcliffe (not ranked)
3. Shook, Hardy Bacon (7)
5. Carlton Fields (1)
6. Littler Mendelson (5)
7. Fried Frank (21)
8. Finnegan Henderson (6)
9. Baker Donelson (8)
10. Paul Hastings (2)
As you can see, eight out of the top ten firms appeared in the top ten last year, and a ninth (Fried Frank) was in the top 25. Congrats to them on their continued commitment to diversity and congrats to Orrick on rocketing up from being unranked to being #2.
Now let s turn to a second set of diversity rankings, the American Lawyer s Diversity Scorecard (previously discussed in our pages by diversity columnist Renwei Chung). The Am Law rankings are based on a firm s percentage of minority attorneys and minority partners in U.S. offices (with minority defined to include Asian-American, African-American, Latino or Hispanic, Native American, and self-described multiracial attorneys).
Here are the top ten firms from Am Law’s 2016 Diversity Scorecard (with 2015 rank indicated parenthetically):
1. White Case (1)
3. Wilson Sonsini (3)
5. Fenwick West (9)
6. Knobbe Martens (6)
7. Lewis Brisbois (NR)
8. Munger Tolles (5)
9. Cleary Gottlieb (13)
Finally, have a look at Law360 s top ten firms for minority attorneys, which like the Am Law rankings focus on a firm s minority representation at the partner and nonpartner levels and its total number of minority attorneys (but using a somewhat different universe of firms):
2. Berry Appleman
3. Lewis Brisbois (30)
4. Wilson Sonsini (1)
6. Sughrue Mion (3)
7. Fenwick West (7)
9. Atkinson Andelson (4)
10. Sterne Kessler (6)
Interesting the #1 and #2 firms, White Case and Berry Appleman, did not appear at all on last year s list. Perhaps they didn t provide the requisite data? And the third-place firm, Lewis Brisbois, somehow rocketed up from #30 to #3. Otherwise, not a lot of movement; the other seven firms all appeared in the top ten last year.
Congratulations to the following firms that appeared on more than one of these top ten lists:
- Ropes Gray: #1 for Vault, #8 for Law360
- White Case: #1 for Am Law, #1 for Law360
- Fragomen: #2 for Am Law, #5 for Law360
- Wilson Sonsini: #3 for Am Law, #4 for Law360
- Fenwick West: #5 for Am Law, #7 for Law360
- Lewis Brisbois: #7 for Am Law, #3 for Law360
And congratulations to all the firms that showed up on any of the three lists. Thanks to firms like you, there s still hope for diversifying the ranks of Biglaw.
David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law and the author of Supreme Ambitions: A Novel. You can connect with David on Twitter (@DavidLat), LinkedIn, and Facebook, and you can reach him by email at [email protected]
Disappointing News Alert: According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners 2016 nationwide statistics, bar exam repeaters passed at a significantly lower rate than first timers.