Asian and Native American women lawyers get the fewest big legal deals, study finds

Asian women in law are less often chosen by companies looking to hire lawyers, according to new research from the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. And experts say the vast majority of diversity spending goes to hiring white women.

“When corporate clients, even those who value diversity, think of outside advice, they don’t give a lot of business to women, to people of color,” said Sandra Yamate, CEO of IILP. “Native American women and Asian American women are the poorest in this regard.”

Nearly 72% of companies surveyed said they entrust less than 10% of their business to Asian American lawyers, the study found. Less than a quarter said they had not done business with Asian American lawyers. Native American lawyers see a similar lack of representation. While nearly half of companies said they assigned less than 10% of their cases to Native American lawyers, 41% said they assigned no cases to them.

This is a fact that makes it notoriously difficult for Asians, especially women, to advance in the legal profession, she said. Although Asian Americans in law enter the private sector at the highest rates, they progress at the lowest.

“The associate-to-partner conversion rate is lowest for Asian Americans,” she said. “These data show a very good reason. They don’t do business.

While black and Latino lawyers do slightly better in corporate hires, the difference is not significant, Yamate said. White men still dominate by a wide margin, white women are decidedly behind them, and other minority groups trail by a wide gender margin.

“White males are doing much better than any other group we break up,” she said. “[Asian] men do a little better than [Asian] women. As with white women, they are not doing extraordinarily well. But the difference between what Asian American women or Native American women get was so stark because they get so little.

And while many companies collect their diversity data, few actually use it, according to the study. In its survey of corporate clients, many of which are Fortune 500 companies, most said they do not set diversity goals.

When it comes to non-Judeo-Christian religious diversity, companies almost never make an effort, according to the study, noting for example that Muslim and Sikh lawyers tend to be left behind.

“There’s always been people in the profession who like to talk about how some of these underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, that if we just wait long enough, they’re going to come into the profession in greater numbers, they’re ‘raise there,’ she said. said.

But it’s not just a matter of waiting, she said, because in many cases there is no concerted effort to diversify. The legal field is still one of the most homogeneous in the United States, the study notes.

“Those involved in the decision-making process need to be more attuned to these challenges,” she said. “We need to see the legal profession as a kind of microcosm of society at large. It does not work in silos.

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