Women of Color Used as Tokens in Marketing

Arin_reeves The new ABA report, Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms, published by the ABA Commission on Women in the Legal Profession, describes the grim lot of female minorities in law firms, who are hit with a "double whammy of gender and race."

"The combination of being a racial and a gender minority has a particularly devastating effect on women of color's personal and professional lives," write Paulette Brown and Arin Reeves, Project Co-Chairs.

"Forty-three percent of women of color but only 3% of white men had limited access to client development opportunities. Women of color stated that they met with clients only when their race or gender would be advantageous to the firm; they frequently were not given a substantive role in those meetings. This kept them from developing business contacts that they could use to develop a book of clients or as resources for finding subsequent positions."

Here's the bad news:

  • Almost half of the associates in private law firms are now women and 15% are attorneys of color, but in 2004 only 17% of law partners were women and only 4% were attorneys of color.
  • As of 2005, 81% of minority female associates had left their law firms within five years of being hired.
  • It's been this way for 134 years: In 1872, Charlotte E. Ray became the first African-American woman admitted to the bar in the United States. Despite her renowned legal abilities, she had to give up the practice of law because, as a woman of color, she could not attract sufficient clients to stay in business.

For more information, see http://www.abanet.org/women/VisibleInvisibility-ExecSummary.pdf

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