Implications of the Growing Diversity Disparity Between Corporate America and their Law Firms

Mark Roellig, LCLD Board Member and General Counsel of MassMutual, and Catherine Simes, an LCLD 1L Scholar, summarize the current data on gender and racial diversity among Fortune 500 general counsel and major law firm equity partners and comment on the implications for law firms. 

  • The number of female general counsel at Fortune 500 companies has increased from 21 to 23 percent in the last year. The number of female equity partners in the top 200 law firms increased less than one percent to 17 percent.
  • Racial diversity among top general counsel and equity partners remained flat in 2015; people of color make up 10 percent of GCs and 5.6 percent of equity partners.
  • In an internal study, MassMutual found that while the percentage of diverse outside counsel increased, the numbers have not translated to overall diversity at the firms or in their leadership ranks.
  • In conclusion, as corporations become increasingly focused on diversity, law firms must take greater steps to have diverse leaders or risk losing their business.

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Editor's note: This abstract was compiled from a report created by Mark Roellig and Catherine Simes and shared with permission.