Hey guys,I have been following this board for a while now but have yet to post. So here goes. For a qualified ethnic lawyer, how low do you think the glass ceiling is (assuming there is one)... In a biglaw firm? In a small private firm? In public service? Which types of law are more minority friendly? Personally, there has never been a doubt in my mind that there is a glass ceiling for minorities in all areas of the law, and at all firms or governmental organizations. If you take a look at the partner rosters for some of the top 10 law firms, you'll find that there are hardly any "non-traditional" profiles (names + pictures). While this is obviously due in part to the small number of minority lawyers working at these places to begin with, my gut tells me that this is not the full story. The law seems like one of those last remaining fields that has yet to embrace minority groups (or be embraced). The other lordly professions like medicine (and to a lesser extent ibanking) seem much more minority-friendly-- you hear of lots of Indian doctors or Asian bankers. But what do you think when you hear of a Hispanic, African-American, Indian, or Asian lawyer? Those words just don't jive. This problem never really bothered me until I realized that in a little over 8 months, I too will be entering this profession. Now seems like a good time to find out what kinds of obstacles I will likely encounter. Anyways, please respond with your thoughts. As always, let's keep it respectful people.
As usual, I agree with SlowBlues as far as rising up the partnership ranks. I think that as long as you come correct with your work, you can move up the ladder. I've always felt that being a woman and a person of color can only help me so long as my Is are dotted and Ts crossed. As long as my work product is 2nd to none and all my other ducks are in a row - there will be nothing stopping me from getting to the top - ESPECIALLY with the big push for "diversity". If I'm the only Black/Asian/female on the partnership track, it'll be THAT much easier for the partners to remember my name But as someone who will have "all eyes on you" so to speak, you have MUCH smaller margin of error for making mistakes. People will be looking for a reason to bring you down, whether its subpar work or indiscretions in your private life. You can't make the same goofs as your "mainstream" peers. One big booboo will cost you your reputation. You have to think strategically about who will be able to help you, who will be looking to hurt you, and move from there. Your eyes have gotta be on the prize and not on the obstacles. I could be overly optimistic about all this, but I can't think about it any other way and still succeed.
I've read studies that suggest minorities are much more likely to leave private practices to go into public interest or government work. And also more likely to forsake private practice in favor of public interest law straight out of law school. That's also probably another reason why you're not seeing a lot of minority partners.
True, the ceiling still exists to an extent (not just for minorities but for women as well). The culture at many firms is still very much an 'old boys' network.
I don't think it's that low. True, the ceiling still exists to an extent (not just for minorities but for women as well). The culture at many firms is still very much an 'old boys' network. That's changing without a doubt, as Groundhog said, but "non-traditional" profiles still have an uphill battle. However, looking at the partner rosters for just the Top 10 firms is not telling you the whole story. A partnership at a jumbo firm is extremely hard to come by, regardless of color. The number of minority associates at most firms is small. The number of associates that rise to partner at someplace like Morrison Foerster is very small. So, you're not going to see a large number of minority partners anytime soon. A partnership at a smaller firm will be easier to attain. I'd bet if you were to scan the ranks of some smaller regional firms, you will see many more minority and female partners. Over time, you will see more minorities and women at the very highest echelon in the largest firms. If you've demonstrated an ability to do good work, grow the business, and impress clients, whatever color you are, you will get promoted. If you make mistakes, miss deadlines, or annoy clients, then you don't deserve to be a partner.I've read studies that suggest minorities are much more likely to leave private practices to go into public interest or government work. And also more likely to forsake private practice in favor of public interest law straight out of law school. That's also probably another reason why you're not seeing a lot of minority partners.