US Corporate Law Firms Have Stopped Caring About Diversity

Pauline HigginsPauline Higgins now has a law firm diversity and training group.

Many of America’s corporate law firms and other prestigious employers stopped making it a priority to promote minorities after the recession, The New York Times reports.

The percentage of women and minority lawyers in the United States was growing for several years but fell for the first time in 2010.

The shift occurred in many subtle ways.

One example cited in the Times was when Texas law firm Thompson & Knight replaced departing chief diversity officer Pauline Higgins with a less experienced associate. The firm’s diversity committee meets less often now, and it has hired fewer black lawyers.

“We’re at a precipice,” John Page, the president of the National Bar Association, told The Times. “There is diversity fatigue. We could fall backwards very quickly.”

Indeed, this Supreme Court term, just one black lawyer argued before the justices, the Associated Press reported. That lawyer argued for just 11 minutes.

As early as this week, the Supreme Court will decide whether to allow universities to consider applicants’ race in admissions — a decision that could ultimately impact the diversity of prestigious professions like the law.

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