December 17, 1998

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION WITH REGARD TO THE STATEMENT OF GOALS FOR INCREASING MINORITY RETENTION AND PROMOTION

Introduction

In September 1991 the Association, acting through its newly formed Committee to Enhance Professional Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession,1 adopted a "Statement of Goals of New York Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments For Increasing Minority Representation and Retention" (the "Statement"), which established goals for hiring Minority lawyers2 for the six-year period ending December 31, 1997, and specified additional steps to be taken to increase retention and promotion rates in each of the law firms and corporate legal departments that were signatories to the Statement (the "Signatories").

Adoption of the Statement was a signal act in the history of the Association, and represented public commitments on the part of the Association and the senior managements of law firms and corporate legal departments represented within the Association on an issue of great public importance. Ultimately, 144 New York law firms and the legal departments of 42 corporations became Signatories to the Statement.

In the Statement, the Signatories agreed to the following goals:

These are lofty goals indeed, and the Association and the Signatories can be rightly proud of their participation in this historic undertaking in the cause of equal opportunity and the promotion of greater diversity within the Bar.

Aside from adoption of the Statement, the Committee formed a Subcommittee on Recruitment and Retention, chaired by Ira Millstein, which issued a report in May 1992. The Subcommittee conducted a survey of Minority lawyers at firms represented on the Committee, including Minority lawyers who had recently left such firms. In general, the Subcommittee reported that, while a substantial majority of all Minority lawyers reported that their work experiences, their relations with non-Minority lawyers, and the firms’ evaluation of their performance were not different from those of their non-Minority colleagues, African-American associates, in particular, perceived that their experiences were substantially different from those of their non-Minority colleagues.

The Subcommittee concluded that African-American lawyers as a group perceive far more race-related barriers to their professional development than do other lawyers, and noted that these perceptions apparently are contributing to or causing disparate levels of retention among different groups of Minorities.

The Subcommittee recommended that firms give serious consideration to a number of steps to address these problems, such as diversity training, establishing an internal diversity committee to deal with diversity issues, enhancing orientation training for new associates and re-examining current evaluation processes to ensure clarity and consistency in evaluating Minority and non-Minority associates.3

In June 1994 the Committee, then under the chairmanship of Ira Millstein, was reorganized to serve as an umbrella committee to coordinate the efforts of other Association committees concerned with diversity issues, including a newly organized Task Force on Minorities, chaired by Vaughn C. Williams, and a Task Force on Women, chaired by Katherine Darrow.4 On June 17, 1998, the Task Force on Minorities issued a Report, "The Statement of Goals—Six and One-Half Years Later", evaluating the experiences of Minority employment in law firms since the adoption of the Statement. The Report concludes that the Statement was successful in focusing attention on Minority hiring in the profession, but that its overall success in terms of increasing Minority representation and retention has been mixed. The Task Force concluded that:

The percentage of Minority lawyers employed (as a percentage of all lawyers) appears to have increased over the period, and the number of Signatory firms at which Minority lawyers accounted for 10% or more of all lawyers employed increased from 10 in 1992 to 29 in 1996. The NALP statistics surveyed by the Task Force indicate that Minority employment increased from 6% in 1990 to 9% in 1996, but there is evidence that different Minority groups have had different experiences. For example, the percentage of African-American and Hispanic associates remained at 2% throughout the period, while the percentage of Asian-American associates increased from 3% to 7%.

In view of this experience, the Task Force Report recommended that:

The Committee has reviewed the Report and recommendation of the Task Force and shares the concern of the Task Force that improved hiring rates may not be resulting in a correspondingly larger Minority population within law firms and corporate legal departments. Although the conclusion of the Task Force Report that the Signatories have met or exceeded the 10% Minority hiring goals for 1992-97 period is an encouraging sign that greater participation of Minorities at all levels in law firms and corporate legal departments may soon become a reality, available evidence, though inconclusive and to some extent anecdotal, suggests that Minority retention programs have been less successful than Minority hiring.

Moreover, as noted above, the evidence cited in the Task Force Report suggests that different Minority groups have had different experiences, with Asian-American associates increasing at a more rapid rate than African-American and Hispanic associates.

These reports and anecdotal evidence appear to confirm that, consistent with the findings of the Subcommittee on Recruitment and Retention in 1992, retention of associates remains a serious obstacle to wider participation of Minorities in law firms and corporate legal departments,7 and that this phenomenon is particularly evident with respect to African-American and Hispanic-American associates.

The Committee, therefore, believes it is important in restating and extending the Statement to emphasize the critical nature of retention programs to ensure that the goal of increased Minority participation in law firms and corporate legal departments is actually achieved.

If Minority lawyers are experiencing lower success rates and higher attrition rates than their non-Minority colleagues, then the fact that the Signatories have achieved and even exceeded the 10% Minority hiring goal adopted in 1991 may suggest that more progress has been made in achieving the overall objective of the Statement than is in fact the case. Similarly, it may well be that the statistics with regard to Minority hiring as a whole are not indicative of the hiring rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans during the Statement period. Thus, it is unclear whether smaller increases in employment levels for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are attributable to lower hiring rates or higher attrition rates, or a combination of the two.

Moreover, in Section IV of the Statement, each of the Signatories pledged to continue to pursue the goal of increasing retention and promotion rates for Minority lawyers by taking a number of enumerated steps to ensure that, among other things, the working environment for Minorities be as hospitable as the working environment for non-Minorities, that Minorities have equal opportunities to engage in significant work assignments for important clients, and receive equal training, mentoring, guidance and opportunities to grow professionally and to succeed. In seeking to encourage increased Minority representation and retention at all levels, each of the Signatories pledged to promote or invite to partnership or senior corporate counsel Minority lawyers who meet the firm’s or legal department’s requisite criteria for those positions.

Committee Recommendations

  1. The Committee recommends initially that the Statement be renewed for an additional six-year period. Although much has been accomplished in affording greater opportunities to Minorities in the legal profession, the Task Force report and the survey data upon which it relied compel the conclusion that a great deal more remains to be accomplished.
  2. The Committee recommends that in addition to renewing the Statement for an additional period of time, the goals should be restated to provide additional emphasis on the need to enhance retention programs in an effort to reduce the higher rates of attrition that appear to have prevailed with respect to Minority associates in general and African-American and Hispanic associates in particular. The proposed amended Statement thus contains a new Section II(c) to the effect that each of the Signatories will seek to achieve the goal within the 1999-2004 period that Minority lawyers employed by firms and corporate legal departments will equal at least 10% of the total number of lawyers employed at such firm or corporate legal department. It is, of course, understood that, once achieved, Signatories will, to the extent practicable, seek to maintain such minimum levels of Minority employment, across all levels of associate seniority.
  3. The Task Force Report recommended that the Committee issue an annual or other interim report on the status of Minority employment and promotion by the Signatories. Such a report should soon be feasible on the basis of data now being collected under the Attorney Retention Tracking Program (ART) initiated by the Association’s Committee on Recruitment and Retention, which will yield more specific information than is currently available.8
    The Committee concurs with this recommendation and will in the future cause annual or other periodic reports on the level of Minority employment in law firms and corporate legal departments to be issued. The newly available, more specific data should provide a clearer picture of the extent of progress in this regard and will thus provide a basis for determining if further steps are necessary to achieve the goals of increased retention and participation of Minorities in our profession.
  4. The Task Force also recommended that the Statement be further amended to strengthen the Signatories’ commitment with regard to the promotion of Minorities to partnership or senior corporate counsel positions, noting that the present goals contain no time limit for achieving this goal and no quantification of the goal.

The Committee has given serious consideration to the objective of increased representation of Minorities at the partner and senior corporate counsel levels. This is a difficult and complex issue. On the one hand, it has been observed that large law firms are so overwhelmingly non-Minority in numbers and culture as to be inhospitable places of employment for many Minority lawyers9 and that only the fuller integration of Minorities as partners and senior counsel of law firms and corporate legal departments will ultimately eradicate the problems of latent prejudice, racial stereotypes and interracial stress and discomfort that affect so many Minority lawyers. On the other hand, many firms strongly believe in deciding on the admission of new partners that their ability to make necessarily subjective and individual judgments on the basis of non-discriminatory qualifications and criteria is essential to their future success and ultimate survival. Anything that leads to surrendering those judgments to externally-imposed numerical goals is seen as a serious threat, and unacceptable.

It was also suggested that the undertaking in Section II(d) of the Statement, to admit or invite to partnership or senior corporate counsel Minority lawyers who meet the "requisite criteria" of the law form or corporate legal department, should instead refer to Minority lawyers who are "qualified" for such positions. While undoubtedly all of the Signatories would like to admit all "qualified" Minorities as partners or senior corporate counsel, such a formulation of the goal ignores the myriad other factors (such as overall and specific practice area needs, economic conditions, etc.) that must be considered in making such decisions. As a consequence, reaching a consensus to change the Statement to impose a more rigidly formulated commitment to admit Minority partners is, at least at present, difficult if not impossible.

As noted above, it is still too early to determine the impact of the Statement on the admission of Minority lawyers as partners, given the length of the partnership track at most firms that are Signatories. In lieu of any change in the specific wording of the Signatories’ commitments at this time, the Committee has opted to give greater emphasis to the importance of careful attention to the committed steps enumerated in Section IV of the Statement in furtherance of the goal of increasing the retention and promotion rates for Minority lawyers. It continues to be the Committee’s belief that effective retention and training programs for Minority lawyers will in time result in increased Minority participation at all levels of law firms and corporate legal departments.

The Committee will continue to direct its attention to achieving this goal.

  1. The Committee also wishes to emphasize the importance of increasing the participation of corporate law departments as signatories to the Statement of Goals. Corporate law departments can play a key role in supporting and encouraging the profession to achieve the objectives of the Goals; a number of corporations currently request their outside law firms to assign minority lawyers to their matters. This encouragement provides significant additional incentive for law firms to recruit, retain and promote minorities. As corporate law departments improve their own recruitment, retention and promotion of minority attorneys, the Committee believes it appropriate for them to encourage their outside counsel do the same.

Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession

Ned B. Stiles, Chair


RESTATEMENT AND REAFFIRMATION OF GOALS OF NEW YORK LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATE LEGAL DEPARTMENTS FOR INCREASING MINORITY REPRESENTATION AND RETENTION

By the Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession

  1. Preamble

 

  1. The Association can take pride in the initiatives it has taken to increase participation by Minorities (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans and Native American lawyers) in all levels of our profession. In particular, in 1991, the Association adopted the Statement of Goals of New York Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments for Increasing Minority Representation and Retention, and the Statement of Goals has been subscribed to by 144 New York law firms and 42 corporate legal departments. Moreover, the goal that Signatories would hire Minority lawyers equal to at least 10% of the total number of lawyers hired by them in the period 1992-1997 appears to have been met or exceeded.
  2. Despite this fact, the overall level of Minority employment in the law firms that are Signatories (data with respect to corporate legal departments are not available) appears not to have increased as much as was hoped. The number of Minority lawyers (especially African-American and Hispanic lawyers) practicing in law firms in the City of New York remains small in relation to the total number of lawyers employed by such firms. These facts indicate that issues of retention and promotion of Minorities are not being successfully addressed.
  3. In view of the historical role of our profession in the continuing struggle for equal opportunity under law, which the Association and the Signatories have agreed to pursue, it is essential that we continue and redouble our efforts to achieve greater participation of Minority lawyers at all levels in our firms and corporate legal departments.
  4. The increased hiring of Minorities by law firms and legal departments has not yet been reflected in similarly increased numbers of Minorities who are partners of law firms or senior corporate counsel in corporate legal departments. Only if retention programs are more successful than they have been in the past will the number of Minority lawyers who are partners and senior corporate counsel come to correspond more closely to the percentage of Minority lawyers hired by law firms and corporate legal departments.

Retaining and promoting more Minority lawyers to partnership and senior corporate counsel positions will require conscious commitment to the goals and the specific steps enumerated in Section IV below.

* * * * * * * * * *

Accordingly, the Signatories now restate and reaffirm the goals for increasing Minority representation at all levels of law firms and corporate legal departments as follows:

  1. Statement of Goals for Increasing Minority Representation at All Levels of Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments*

Each signatory pledges to pursue the following goals:

  1. Full and Equal Participation of Minorities: To achieve participation of Minority lawyers at all professional levels in its law firm or corporate legal department.
  2. Minority Hiring: To achieve the goal of hiring in each of the years 1999 through 2004 a number of Minority lawyers amounting to at least 10% of the total number of all lawyers hired by such firm or corporate legal department. In light of our experience in the period 1992-1997, and the increased number of qualified Minority law students, we believe that this goal is attainable if the steps recommended in Section III are continued or are taken and the pool of Minority law school graduates from which the law firm or corporate legal department recruits remains at an adequate level.
  3. Minority Employment and Retention: To seek to achieve the goal that the number of Minority lawyers employed by the firm or corporate legal department will equal at least 10% of the total number of lawyers employed at such firm or corporate legal department by the year 2004. It is, of course, understood that, once achieved, Signatories will, to the extent practicable, seek to maintain such minimum levels of Minority employment, across all levels of associate seniority. In light of the hiring experience of Signatories in the 1992-1997 period, the increased number of qualified Minority law students, and the steps to increase Minority retention and promotion set forth in Section IV below, we believe this goal will be attainable.
  4. Minority Partners and Senior Corporate Counsel: To promote or to invite to partnership in each law firm and to senior corporate counsel in each corporate legal department Minority lawyers who meet the firm’s or legal department’s requisite criteria for partnership or senior counsel. We believe that if the hiring goals continue to be met, and if the steps enumerated in Section IV are followed, over time the number of Minority partners and senior corporate counsel will increase so as to correspond more closely to the percentage of Minority lawyers hired by the firm or corporate legal department.

 

  1. Steps to be Taken by Firms and Corporate Legal Departments in the Recruitment Process

Each Signatory pledges to pursue the goal of increasing the number of Minority lawyers hired by taking all or some of the following steps:

  1. Continuing to utilize hiring criteria for all lawyers (Minority and non-Minority) that include academic grades, communication skills, leadership, integrity, judgment, resourcefulness and other factors which indicate potential for success in the law firm or corporate legal department.
  2. Increasing the pool of Minority law student applicants who meet the firm’s or corporate legal department’s hiring criteria by:
  1. augmenting interviewing efforts at law schools with significant numbers of Minority law students; and
  2. identifying Minority students through placement administrators, faculty members, former summer associates and Minority law student organizations at law schools and by job forums, receptions and other activities for law students.
  1. To the extent that a law firm or corporate legal department engages in lateral hiring, increasing the lateral Minority attorney applicant pool by:
  1. requesting professional recruiters, when used, to include Minority candidates in their searches;
  2. requesting Minority bar associations for referrals; and
  3. requesting Minority partners of law firms for referrals.
  1. Recruiting Minority applicants by involving partners and senior corporate counsel in the recruitment process.
  2. Communicating to all lawyers the firm’s or legal department’s commitment to the goals set forth in this statement.

 

  1. Steps to be Taken by Firms and Corporate Legal Departments for Retention and Promotion of Minority Lawyers to Partnership and Management Positions

Each Signatory pledges to continue to pursue the goal of increasing retention and promotion rates for Minority lawyers by doing the following:

  1. Exercising diligence and sensitivity further to ensure that the opportunities for Minority lawyers are equivalent to those provided to non-Minority lawyers in the assignment of work on a consistent basis, of the type necessary to develop skills and acquire experience for success and advancement;
  2. Enhancing programs aimed at increasing retention rates for all attorneys, focusing on such matters as allocation of interesting work, training and guidance, relationships with partners and senior corporate counsel, client contacts, feedback and pro bono commitment;
  3. Exercising diligence and sensitivity further to ensure that the work environment is as hospitable for Minority lawyers as it is for non-Minority lawyers by providing that:

Minority lawyers receive equal opportunity to perform significant work assignments for important clients;

Minority lawyers receive equal training, mentoring, guidance, feedback and opportunities to grow and succeed;

Minority lawyers are fully included in work-related social activities with other lawyers and clients;

Policies are adopted that prohibit law firm or legal department sponsored functions at private clubs that discriminate on the basis of race, creed, religion or sex;

  1. Ensuring equal opportunities for Minority lawyers to achieve partnership or senior corporate counsel status by:

Using the same criteria for Minority and non-Minority lawyers to achieve partnership or senior corporate counsel status;

Guiding the development of Minority lawyers in the same manner as non-Minority lawyers;

As Minority lawyers near consideration for partnership or senior corporate counsel, assigning responsibility for important client matters to senior Minority lawyers in the same manner and extent that such matters are assigned to senior non-Minority lawyers.

December 17, 1998


  1. The Committee to Enhance Professional Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession (the "Committee") was organized in 1990 and took its present name, the Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession, in 1994. It was initially chaired by Cyrus Vance and consisted of the managing or presiding partners of 35 large law firms in New York City that were the original Signatories.
  2. "Minority lawyers" was defined in the Statement to include African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and Native American lawyers.
  3. The Subcommittee also recommended the appointment of a special diversity assistant to the President of the Association. The first such assistant was hired in November 1992.
  4. Subsequently, the Committee on Women in the Profession and the Task Force on Women developed, in collaboration with this Committee, a Statement of Goals of New York Law Firms and Legal Departments for the Retention and Promotion of Women, which was similar in many respects to the Statement. The Statement of Goals for Women was promulgated by the Association in April 1998.

    The two task forces have since been merged into the Committee on Minorities in the Profession and the Committee on Women in the Profession, respectively.
  5. The numbers and percentages in the Task Force Report do not relate precisely to the Signatories as a group, but they are thought to be highly indicative of the results for the Signatories. The Task Force relied principally on two sources: (1) Since 1991, the New York Law Journal has published an annual survey of minority hiring by the 25 largest law firms in New York City; these firms are all among the Signatories. (2) The Task Force also created a database of annual employment statistics for minority groups in the 1990-1997 period at 86 of the Signatories that report such statistics to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP); these 86 firms constituted 62% of the Signatories, but some began reporting statistics to NALP annually in 1990, while others started in 1992 or later. Neither of these sources contained statistically significant data with respect to corporate legal departments.
  6. It is worth noting that the Statement, which was adopted in December 1991, would have had its initial impact on the hiring of law students in the fall of 1992 for clerkship positions in the summer of 1993; most of these students would have graduated from law school in the spring of 1994. At firms where the partnership track is at least 7 or 8 years, which would likely include most of the firms that are Signatories, these lawyers would not yet be considered eligible for partnership consideration.
  7. The sources cited by the Task Force did not contain statistically significant data with respect to the impact of the goals in corporate legal departments, but there is some evidence that the data with respect to law firms may be comparable to the experience of corporate law departments. See "Diversity in Hiring: NAACP Has Blunt Message for Corporate America", New York Law Journal, July 16, 1998.
  8. ART is a program operated in conjunction with Andersen Worldwide to track the various employment changes of law firm associates. The program will generate reports showing attrition rates among law firm associates and will examine reasons for attrition and variations in attrition rates among various associate groups, such as women and minorities.
  9. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Number 17, August, 1997, p. 39.

* The Statement of Goals is intended to be applicable only to the United States offices of signatory firms and corporate legal departments, inasmuch as the concept of "minority" may differ in other countries.