Fred Sultan, past chair of the State Bar’s LGBT Law Section; Manuel Escobar, past chair of the bar’s Hispanic Issues Section; Laura Fowler, principal of the Fowler Law Firm; and Rudolph K. Metayer, past president of the Austin Black Lawyers Association on August 10, 2017 at Gardere’s downtown Austin office for the presentation of the Diversity Report Card results.

As Austin continues to grow, the number of minority attorneys increased during the past year at some of the city’s firms, according to a report released August 9.

The Law Firm Diversity Report Card grades the city’s law firms on their hiring, promotion, and retention of attorneys of diverse races, genders, and sexual orientations. The report card, which began in 2011, is a collaboration among the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Back Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin, the Austin LGBT Bar Association, and the Travis County Women Lawyers Association.

For the first time ever, the grade requirements changed. To receive a grade of “A,” Austin offices of responding firms had to be composed of at least 16.75 percent minority attorneys, which reflects the percentage of minority attorneys practicing in Travis County. Last year that number was 15 percent. Twenty-five law firms responded to the survey.

Other notable findings from this year’s report card, which is available on the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin website, include:

• For the second year, the report included detailed data regarding women attorneys and partners within the city’s law firms. But because its aim is to focus on racial and ethnic diversity, the report card did not consider these statistics when assigning grades. The data was released in a separate report that shows percentages of women associates and partners, both equity and non-equity.
• Eleven firms reported having openly LGBT attorneys, an increase of three from last year’s total. These included: Husch Blackwell, the Fowler Law Firm, Gardere Wynne Sewell, Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, Baker Botts, Jackson Walker, Scott Douglass & McConnico, Norton Rose Fulbright, McGinnis Lochridge, Locke Lord, and Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody.
• The total number of minority attorneys employed by Austin’s largest firms increased to 203 in 2016, up from 195 in 2015 (and up from 121 reported minority attorneys in 2011).
• Thirteen law firms earned A’s including two that earned a B in 2015:
Andrews Kurth
Baker Botts
Duggins Wren Mann & Romero
The Fowler Law Firm
Gardere Wynne Sewell
Greenberg Traurig
Husch Blackwell
Jackson Walker
Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend
Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith
Scott Douglass & McConnico
Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati