Almost 90% of law firms have employed strategies to target recruitment of underrepresented minorities. While 46% of associates are women, only 19% of equity partners are women. Looking deeper, women of color represent 16% of associates, but only 3% of equity partners. These statistics are not from 20 years ago. In fact, they were included in an October 2017 report from McKinsey & Company, entitled “Women in Law Firms.”
Delaware Lawyer, a Delaware Bar Foundation publication, interviewed diverse women leaders at Delaware law firms to dive deep into this issue. Patricia A. Winston, Chair of the Morris James Diversity and Inclusion Committee, shared her thoughts and experiences as a diverse, woman lawyer. Specifically, Patricia referenced her recruitment to Morris James when recalling an example of benefiting professionally from the help of others.
"I interviewed [at Morris James] since I was a second-year. There was a diverse male that kept bringing me back. I didn’t understand it at the time, but he was putting my face out there. He was the one who showed me the ropes when I got here. He was tough. He had such high expectations. It wasn’t in a bad way. He wanted me to be successful; that’s what it was about. Seeing how he functioned within the firm, how he handled certain issues, his priorities — one of which was diversity — he worked very hard to make this a diverse place. One of the ways was recruiting, going to the job fairs for diverse applicants and making sure to bring them in — I was one of them. And when it came to assignments, he would ask me, 'do you have stuff to work on?'
There was also a white male partner; to this day, he always makes sure I am included. It’s wonderful to have that and I don’t think I would have lasted here had I not had those two people at my firm. I don’t think that would have been possible. You take that help and in turn, help others.
Now, we have the most women in our group that we have ever had. So, part of it is just making sure we are all connected and figure out ways to help each other. Also, in the community, talking to other women and saying, 'we have to help each other, because if we don’t, how are we going to succeed?' Make sure you give back."