Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 16

SIDEBAR

TO INCREASE DIVERSITY,
CULTIVATE MENTORSHIPS
By Elizabeth J. McInturff and Isabella C. Demougeot

S

tudies show that organizations with
diverse leadership structures are more
likely to outperform companies without
them. McKinsey & Company's 2018
" Delivering Through Diversity " report found
that companies in the top quartile for gender
diversity on their executive teams are 21
percent more likely to experience aboveaverage profitability, and companies with
ethnic/cultural diversity are 33 percent more
likely to outperform on EBIT (earnings before
interest and taxes) margin.
Noting these profitability trends and looking
to connect with its diverse client base, the
legal industry has made diversity hiring a top
priority. The diverse candidate pool that firms
can draw from grows each year. Currently,
female-identifying students make up 50
percent or more of students enrolled in law
school and outnumber men in top programs,
according to an April 2019 report by the
American Bar Association's Commission on
Women in the Profession. About 31 percent

of enrolled students are from traditionally
underrepresented groups, according to a 2019
women in law school report by Enjuris.
Notwithstanding the growing participation in
legal education, the legal field itself continues
to struggle with retaining diverse attorneys
and opening doors to positions of influence.
Despite making up half of law school graduates
and 46 percent of a typical associate class,
female-identifying attorneys represent only 24
percent of all partners, and just 22 percent of
equity partners, according to the 2019 Vault/
MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey. This number
drops significantly when looking at women
of color. Less than 4 percent of women at partnership levels are women of color. Overall,
minority attorneys represent just 10 percent of
all partners and 9 percent of equity partners.
While firms are embracing diversity in recruitment, 22 percent of overall departing attorneys
in 2018 were from minority groups, the same
report showed. At the associate level, 28

percent of departing attorneys were persons
of color. Of the women and minority attorneys
who do stay in the legal field, they hold a
smaller percentage of leadership roles.
Although an increase from previous years,
just 11 percent of a firm's management group
are persons of color and 26 percent hold
management or executive positions.

A SEAT AT THE TABLE

The reasons for women and minority attorneys
choosing to leave or being left out of the legal
field or positions of power are complex and
often deeply rooted in industry culture. Female
and minority attorneys report feeling pressured
or guided to tracks that do not lead them
to the executive committee. Here, attorneys
Celeste Bruce, Linda Thatcher, Eduardo Garcia,
and Charlotte May, as well as the authors, share
that they experienced challenges or barriers
within the legal profession that they attribute
to being based on their gender or ethnic or
cultural background.
So, how can the legal field (and attorneys
themselves) ensure that female and minority
persons get a seat at the proverbial table? The
answer often lies in mentorship.

Stein Sperling Bennett De Jong Driscoll PC

There's so much practice
and trial and error that
goes along with the
profession itself that it
inherently requires
mentors [who] will help
fill in those blanks.
EDUARDO GARCIA
Stein Sperling Bennett De Jong Driscoll PC

16

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

MARCH/APRIL 2021

Mentorship can play a pivotal role in a lawyer's
evolution and lead to greater career success
and engagement. Persons with successful
mentorships report improved career outcomes
through higher compensation, promotions,
and engagement with their careers. For companies, successful mentorship often means
higher employee retention and employment
satisfaction for both mentor and mentee.
The attorneys interviewed for this article
believe that mentorship made the difference
between developing their careers and leaving
the legal profession altogether. Mentorship
was most critical in connecting them with
positions of power within their firms and the
legal field.
" Mentorship is and has been extremely important to my career path. I would not be where



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021

Digital Extras
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Staying Put in Big Law feature
A Sisterhood of Latina Lawyers Sidebar
Increasing Diversity & Inclusion the the Legal Profession feature
Cultivate Mentorships sidebar
A Tribute to Judge June L. Green feature
Delicate Balance for Black Women Attorneys in Government Feature
Falling Short on Disability Inclusion feature
Elusive Justice in Violence Against Native Women feature
Worth Reading
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - Marcia Madsen
Member Spotlight - Simon Zinger
ABA Delegates Corner
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effecy
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 5
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Staying Put in Big Law feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - A Sisterhood of Latina Lawyers Sidebar
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Increasing Diversity & Inclusion the the Legal Profession feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cultivate Mentorships sidebar
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - A Tribute to Judge June L. Green feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 20
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Delicate Balance for Black Women Attorneys in Government Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Falling Short on Disability Inclusion feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Elusive Justice in Violence Against Native Women feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Member Spotlight - Marcia Madsen
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Member Spotlight - Simon Zinger
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 40
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - ABA Delegates Corner
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - The Pro Bono Effecy
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 50
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2021 - Cover4
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