Committee Reports

2009 Diversity Benchmarking Report

The New York City Bar’s last reporting on diversity benchmark data stated:

The economic implosion of late 2008 continuing into early 2009 may exacerbate the difficulty of sustaining the small diversity gains signatory firms have made in recent years. Firms will need to remain vigilant to insure that women and minority attorneys are not disproportionately affected by the difficult economic climate.

We are happy to report that generally signatory firms have not lost prior gains and have reported additional gains in the most recent diversity benchmark results. In the long and challenging journey of supporting increasing diversity, we believe this is a moment to acknowledge what has been accomplished and to recognize the continuing efforts of signatory firms. While areas of concern remain – and law firm leadership continues to be a steep pyramid in which diversity by both gender and race/ethnicity declines significantly as rank increases – we can also feel encouraged by the power of momentum. With several highly publicized downsizings in the last year commanding headlines, negative news in the legal press has been the norm. The most recent New York City Bar diversity benchmark results suggest that even in these most difficult economic times, firms have stayed the course and the goal of increasing the diversity of law firm leadership is not merely a by-product of a prospering economy. The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency in 2008 is a major milestone for the country, and certainly for the legal profession. It represents what is possible but it is clear that formidable systemic barriers remain for women and minority attorneys across the legal profession, particularly within law firms. The 2009 diversity benchmark results underscore that while challenges persist, continued focus is making a difference.