The legal profession is often scrutinized for its lack of diversity. That’s why members of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA) decided to investigate the demographics of their own legal community.
Using its first ever regional diversity survey, the CMBA reached out to thousands of Northeastern Ohio lawyers. The goal was to determine the employment rate and job title of female and minority attorneys actively working in the area. Broken down into two phases, phase 1 of the diversity survey polled over 400 local law firms, corporate legal departments, public sector and court employees, while phase two targeted 8,500 legal professionals to learn more about the diversity and inclusion programs offered in their workplaces.
When looking strictly at gender diversity, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association survey found that men continue to hold the bulk of leadership roles. 80% of men polled were partners, 84.5% equity partners, and 67.9% were non-equity partners. The divide at the associate level however wasn’t quite as high. The diversity survey found that male associates made up 58% of those roles with female associates coming in at 42%.
The CMBA survey also reported that slightly more than 4% of equity and non-equity partners are persons of color. When looking at the associate level position, only 8% are minorities. In fact, out of the 60 firms that responded to the first phase of questionnaires only 97 attorneys were not white.
While only about 20% of the law firms contacted to participate responded, the representation of minority and female attorneys in the Cleveland area is still lower than many had hoped.
The findings of the diversity survey, though disheartening, spurred productive conversations in Cleveland’s legal community. One conversation ultimately led to the creation of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s own Diversity and Inclusion Committee, similar to the Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board.
Both groups share a common goal: to achieve greater cultural and gender diversity in the legal workplace, to ensure that minorities and women stay in the legal workplace, and to provide everyone, minorities and women included, with equal opportunities to attain leadership roles.
The CMBA’s new committee is set to meet and outline its future goals for Ohio lawyers later this summer.