As Austin grows larger—and less diverse in some respects—what is happening to the makeup of the city’s law firms? According to a report released August 9, some firms increased their hiring, retention, and promotion of attorneys of diverse races, genders, and sexual orientations during 2015.
The Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card grades each firm that has responded to a survey assessing the office’s percentage of minority attorneys and partners over the previous year. The report card—started in 2011—is a collaboration among the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin, and the Austin LGBT Bar Association.
To receive a grade of “A” on this year’s report card, Austin offices of responding firms had to be comprised of at least 15 percent minority attorneys, which is the percentage of minority attorneys practicing in Travis County. If a firm had less than 7.5 percent minority representation, it received a failing grade. Twenty-four of the 28 firms contacted by the group responded to the survey.
Here are some key takeaways from the report card, which can be downloaded and read in full at the Austin Black Lawyers Association website.
- Notably, for the first time, the report card features data on women attorneys and partners at the various firms. But because its aim is to focus on racial and ethnic diversity, the report card did not consider these statistics when assigning grades.
- Eight firms have hired openly LGBT attorneys, an increase from last year’s total of six. These included: Gardere Wynne Sewell, Husch Blackwell, The Fowler Law Firm, Baker Botts, Jackson Walker, Scott Douglass & McConnico, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody. (According to the report card’s methodology, the final grade for each firm increased by no more than one letter as a result of the LGBT data.)
- The total number of minority attorneys at the city’s largest firms increased to 195 in 2015, up from 173 in 2014 (and up from 121 minority attorneys reported in 2011).
- Eleven firms earned A’s, including many that also received the top grade last year:
- Andrews Kurth
- Baker Botts
- Duggins Wren Mann & Romero (up from last year’s B grade)
- The Fowler Law Firm
- Gardere Wynne Sewell
- Husch Blackwell
- Jackson Walker
- Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend (up from last year’s B grade)
- Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons (up from last year’s B grade)
- Vinson & Elkins
- Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati