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OK, Your Law Firm’s Diverse, But in What Practice Areas?

Vivia Chen LAW.COM

I know I’m a pain about gender and diversity issues, so I don’t take it personally when law firms sometimes avoid me like an STD. Sure, they love to tell me about their newest, most awesome diversity initiatives, but if I press them about their track records on female or black equity partners—well, let’s just say, they’re not so forthcoming.

But I’ve noticed an exception to this rule. Firms with major labor and employment practices usually chase me down to tout their diversity records. Their spiel is that they’re not like the other big firms. It’s like they’re saying, “See! We have female and black partners! And more than just one or two!”

Indeed, it’s no secret that labor and employment is packed with female lawyers (remember, I called it a Pink Ghetto), but is this a practice where black lawyers are prevalent, too? If so, is this one explanation why women and black partners lag behind white male partners in compensation? (Male partners make 53 percent more than female partners, while the earnings gap between white and black partners is 15 percent, according to Major, Lindsey & Africa’s partner compensation survey.)

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