Law Firm Diversity

2016 Results

On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin, the Austin LGBT Bar Association and the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association collectively presented the results of the 2015 Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card at an event graciously hosted by Gardere in its downtown Austin office.  Holly O'Neil, managing partner at Gardere, welcomed attendees by describing Gardere's long-standing focus on diversity and its ongoing effort to improve diversity at all of its offices.  Leslie Dippel, President of the Austin Bar Association, spoke about the Austin Bar's diversity efforts through its longstanding Diversity Committee and its Diversity Fellowship Program, which places promising minority first year students in fellowships with large law firms and judges during their first summer.  

For the first time this year, the committee collected data specifically on women attorneys, in conjunction with the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association.  This data is separately reported on page four of the report card.  

As first was done last year, LGBT data was included in the determination of law firm grades. This year's report card also continues our granular reporting on diversity within minority categories at each individual firm.

This year's report card and associated press release are below:

The 2015 Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card evaluated statistics from the 28 largest law firms in Austin.  This year, the standard for an "A" grade remained at 15 percent. Firms falling below 7.5 percent receive a failing grade.  In addition, consistent with prior Report Cards, grading is weighted in favor of law firms that have larger numbers of minority partners to reflect the importance of not only hiring diverse attorneys, but in developing, promoting and retaining those attorneys.

This year, 11 firms earned "A" grades.  Of the 23 firms that responded, eight firms' grades improved over last year, while two firms' grades declined.  One reporting firm earned an "F" grade, and four additional firms received an "F" for declining to respond to survey requests. 

2015 Results

On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin and the Austin LGBT Bar Association collectively presented the results of the 2014 Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card at an event graciously hosted by Gardere in its downtown Austin office.  Holly O'Neil, managing partner at Gardere, welcomed attendees by describing Gardere's long-standing diversity efforts.  Judge Eric Shepperd, Travis County Court No. 2, reminded the group to keep perspective on results and to continue to work towards changing the perspective of law firms throughout our area as they make hiring, retention and promotion decisions.

For the first time this year, LGBT data was included in the determination of law firm grades. The Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card is the first in the state to do so.  This year also marks the first year in which the report card provides granular data on diversity within minority categories at each individual firm.

This year's report card and associated press release are below:

The 2014 Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card evaluated statistics from the 28 largest law firms in Austin.  This year, the standard for an "A" grade remained at 15 percent. Firms falling below 7.5 percent receive a failing grade.  In addition, consistent with prior Report Cards, grading is weighted in favor of law firms that have larger numbers of minority partners to reflect the importance of not only hiring diverse attorneys, but in developing, promoting and retaining those attorneys.

This year, nine firms earned "A" grades.  Of the 23 firms that responded, three firms' grades improved over last year.  Two reporting firms earned "F" grades. Five additional firms received an "F" for declining to respond to survey requests. 

2014 Results

On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin and the Austin LGBT Bar Association collectively presented the results of the 2013 Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card.  For the second consecutive year, the group asked law firms to provide information about LGBT attorneys and policies. The report card and associated press release are below:

The 2013 Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card evaluated statistics from the 26 largest law firms in Austin.  This year, the standard for an "A" grade was raised from 14 percent to 15 percent, acknowledging the continued growth of minorities in the Austin legal community. Firms falling below 7.5 percent receive a failing grade.  In addition, consistent with prior Report Cards, grading is weighted in favor of law firms that have larger numbers of minority partners to reflect the importance of not only hiring diverse attorneys, but in developing, promoting and retaining those attorneys.

This year, eight firms earned "A" grades.  Of the 21 firms that responded, seven firms' grades improved over last year.  Three firms earned "F" grades. Five additional firms received an "F" for declining to respond to survey requests.

2013 Results

On Thursday, May 2, 2013 the minority bar associations of Austin–the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Austin and the Austin LGBT Bar Association–collectively presented the results of the Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card. This year for the first time, the group asked law firms to provide information about LGBT attorneys and policies. The report card, associated press release, and a press release from the Austin LGBT Bar Association are below.

The Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card evaluated statistics from the 27 largest law firms in Austin, comparing their diversity to that found in Travis County, in which minorities comprise 14 percent of all licensed attorneys. In order to receive an "A" grade, a law firm's Austin office must meet or exceed that 14 percent threshold. Those falling below 8 percent receive a failing grade. In addition, consistent with prior Report Cards, grading is weighted in favor of law firms that have larger numbers of minority partners to reflect the importance of not only hiring diverse attorneys, but in developing, promoting and retaining those attorneys.

This year, seven firms earned "A" grades, three earned "B" grades, six earned "C" grades, two earned "D" grades, and four earned "F" grades. Five additional firms declined to respond to the survey and received an "F" for not responding.

2012 Results

In 2012, after a short hiatus, the HBAA, in expanded partnership with the Austin Asian-American Bar Association and the Austin Black Lawyers Association, issued a new Report Card, now called the Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card.  

In 2012, seven firms earned an A grade, one firm earned a B grade, five firms earned a C grade, and seven firms received failing grades, including two who did not respond.

Please see the full Report Card and associated Press Release for further information.  

Narrative Reports from Past Years

In 2001, the Joint Committee expanded its Report Card to include the 26 largest law firms in Austin. With minorities comprising 12 percent of the membership of the State Bar of Texas, the Joint Committee awarded eight "A" grades to Austin law firms, three "B" grades, five "C" grades, six "D" grades, and four "F" grades. Relying on information reported by the law firms themselves, the Joint Committee found that, of 1,211 attorneys employed by the 26 largest law firms in Austin, only 119 (or 9.8 percent) were African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American.

The Joint Committee found that the number of minority attorneys in Austin's largest law firms continued to grow in 2002. As reported by the 26 largest law firms in Austin, 10.6 percent of their lawyers were minorities, compared to 11 percent of attorneys in Travis County and 12.5 percent of minority members of the State Bar of Texas. In the 2002 Report Card, thirteen Austin law firms earned "A" grades, two earned "B" grades, five were awarded "C" grades, two earned "D" grades, and five Austin law firms received an "F" grade for their number of minority attorneys. In a departure from previous years, the 2002 Report Card also graded the law firms' efforts in minority recruiting efforts, including participating in minority job fairs, providing mentors for minority law school students, establishing a committee within the law firm to promote diversity, and including minorities in the firm's Recruitment Committee. Nine law firms received a grade of "Excellent" for their minority hiring efforts, ten firms received a "Satisfactory" grade, and two law firms' efforts were deemed to be "Unsatisfactory."

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding the University of Michigan Law School's diversity efforts, the Joint Committee issued its fourth Diversity Report Card in 2003. According to the State Bar of Texas, 12.9 percent of the 71,170 attorneys in Texas in 2003 were African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American. In Travis County, just 11 percent of licensed attorneys were minorities, and, according to data compiled by the Joint Committee in 2003, 131 of the 1,128 attorneys (or 11.6 percent) employed by the 25 largest law firms in Austin were minorities. In 2003, the Joint Committee awarded eleven "A" grades to Austin law firms, six "B" grades, three "C" grades, three "D" grades, and two "F" grades. Additionally, nine law firms received a grade of "Excellent" for their minority hiring efforts, twelve firms received a "Satisfactory" grade, and four law firms received a grade of "Unsatisfactory" for their minority hiring efforts. Also in 2003, the Joint Committee issued a Progress Report comparing grades received by the law firms over the last four years.

Each year the Joint Committee has issued its Diversity Report Card, it has reiterated the commitment of the HBAA to help Austin law firms increase their hiring and retention of minority lawyers.

History of the Law Firm Diversity Committee and the Report Card

In the spring of 2000, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin joined forces with the Austin Black Lawyers Association to evaluate the number of minority attorneys at the 14 largest law firms in Austin. That year, the Joint Committee found that, of the 719 attorneys at those firms, only 53 (or 7 percent) were African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American. Using the statewide average of minority members of the State Bar of Texas as a goal (11 percent), the Joint Committee issued a Report Card on Minority Hiring, awarding an "A" grade to any law firm with 11 percent or more minority attorneys. That first year of the Report Card, the Joint Committee awarded one "A" grade, four "B" grades, two "D" grades, five "F" grades, and two "Incomplete" grades.

Results from Prior Years

Prior years' Report Cards and press releases can be viewed by clicking on each below:

Press Releases

Report Cards and Progress Reports

Contact Information

The HBAA Immediate Past President typically serves as the chair of the HBAA Law Firm Diversity Committee.  For more information please contact us.