During President Obama’s ascent to the presidency, many middle and upper class black Americans viewed his rise as a reflection of themselves. But although Obama, a Harvard law school grad, was successful at getting elected to two terms, top black attorneys are witnessing one of the most dramatic declines in history.
The New York Times reported that the number of black lawyers at top firms has declined:
Black lawyers accounted for 3 percent of lawyers at big firms last year, a percentage that has declined in each of the last five years. And the proportion of black partners at such law firms remained stagnant at 1.9 percent during the same period, according to the 2013 diversity scorecard published in the June issue of The American Lawyer.
What is most disturbing, though, is that there’s not a decline among all minorities, just African-Americans:
In contrast, other minorities are claiming a larger presence in the big legal firms, with Asian-Americans taking the biggest share of positions and Hispanics the next largest share, surpassing blacks for the first time. The findings were based on figures provided by 223 large law firms.
According to the Times, this decline among top black lawyers is a result of the recession: “The percentage of black partners, whose ranks doubled from 1995 to 2008, fell to 1.9 percent in 2009 and has remained there.”
While black lawyers account for only 1.9 percent of attorneys at top firms, Asian-American lawyers accounted for 6.3 percent and Hispanics accounted for 3.2 percent.