The number of women and minority lawyers who work their way to equity partner at law firms is lower across the board in Texas compared to the industry average, according to new data by Citibank.
Based on a survey of 140 predominantly Am Law 100 and 200 firms, including six Texas-headquartered firms, the Citi data reveals that the rate of promotions for women and minorities on both a global level and state level steadily declines as lawyers work their way up the ranks — from associates to of counsel to partner to equity partner. The data comprised headcounts across all of the firms’ offices, including abroad.
On the flip side, law firms across the legal industry and in Texas hired more minorities in 2022 than in 2021, with a jump in one group as high as three percentage points between the two years.
“When we look at the overall race-ethnicity results, we’re observing an increased diversity among the attorney ranks in both the industry and in Texas,” Einat Sadka, a private banker in Citi’s law firm group, said during a Texas Lawbook webcast last week while reporting the survey’s key findings.
One strong indicator of this, Sadka noted, was that the total number of Caucasian lawyers across all ranks at both Texas law firms and the legal industry at large declined from 2021 to 2022, both by roughly 2 percentage points.
“It is heading in the right direction,” Sadka said.
Here are more key findings from the survey for both women lawyers and minorities.
- The number of women attorneys at Texas firms declined at nearly every ranking level from 2021 to 2022, while the number of women attorneys industrywide grew.
- There are 32 percent fewer women equity partners at Texas firms than industrywide. On average, there are 23 women equity partners at Texas firms, while industrywide there are 34.
- Fewer women entered the Texas legal profession in 2022 than 2021 — 48.4 percent of the first-year associates last year were females, while women made up 52.5 percent of the first-year class in 2021. The drop in 2022 bucks the well-established trend of women accounting for more than half of the student body at law schools.
- Fewer women were also promoted to partner in Texas last year, seeing a 4 percentage point drop from 2021.
- However, Texas firms promoted slightly more women to equity partner positions last year than the legal industry as a whole. Nearly a third (32.8 percent) of the new equity partners in Texas were women in 2022, compared to 31.4 percent industrywide.
- Asians accounted for the most represented minority group among the equity partner ranks in Texas.
- Asians also saw the most growth in their first-year associate numbers in Texas, a 3 percentage point gain from 2021 to 2022.
- The entry of Black lawyers in the workforce grew at a higher rate from 2021 to 2022 in Texas compared to industrywide, but Texas firms still hired fewer Black first-year associates (5.9 percent) compared to the industry (7.3 percent) in 2022.
- Texas firms have a slightly better representation of Hispanic lawyers across all ranks compared to the industry.
- Asian lawyers were the only group that had representation in the double-digits in both the legal industry at large and at Texas firms, but those double digits were sustained only through the first-year associate and associate ranks. More than 15 percent of the first-year associates hired at firms industrywide in 2022 were Asian, while 13.6 percent were Asian in Texas.
- African Americans continue to be the least represented group at all levels in Texas firms — associates, counsel, partners and equity partners. There only three Black equity partners on average at each Texas firm, the same as the industry average.