While many law firms keep track of top students at respected law schools, upstate New York’s Barclay Damon LLP begins courting teens in racially and ethnically diverse local high schools.
The firm’s hope is that one day, these students will become Barclay Damon lawyers — and that the firm’s almost entirely white racial profile will change dramatically, according to John Langan, its managing partner.
Diversity is a frequent topic of conversation among firm leaders, he said, and they hold regular meetings to consider ways to attract and retain diverse lawyers. But those who come to Barclay Damon from outside the region tend to take jobs in New York City.
Barclay Damon remains far below the national average for minority representation at firms of this size, according to Law360’s Diversity Snapshot data.
While similar-sized firms overall have about 11.9 percent minority attorneys and 6.5 percent minority equity partners, just 4.7 percent of Barclay Damon’s lawyers are minorities, and the firm has no minority equity partners.
According to Merle Vaughn, head of legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa’s national law firm diversity practice, minority populations are hit even harder by law school debt because of racial and ethnic disparities in wealth, making diverse attorneys more apt to be wooed by high-dollar offers.