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Diverse Hiring Practices in the Legal IndustryThe term “diverse hiring” is more than checking boxes and enhancing the optics of your organization. When implemented successfully, diverse hiring practices benefit the employer, the employees, and the state of the industry. Recruiting diverse talent has proven successful for many companies, as reflected in increased profits, higher morale, more significant innovation, and enhanced problem-solving.1

So why do some industries lag behind or seem reluctant to enable inclusive hiring practices?

Let’s examine the benefits of diversity within legal firms, the current state of diversity in the legal industry, and the measures employers can take to enhance their inclusive recruiting practices in 2024.

The Importance of Diversity in Legal Teams

What fair hiring practices consider DEI, and why must the legal industry take the initiative to comply with best practices?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are the principles that promote fairness and representation in schools, workplaces, and organizations. The goals of DEI hiring practices are to open opportunities to people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, ages, religions, national origin, and more. Many workplaces today aspire to be communities where people of all backgrounds are valued and respected, regardless of their differences.

Benefits of Diverse Talent Within Law Firms

Attracting and securing diverse talent offers numerous benefits to legal teams. Below are a few of the most impactful gains your practice can achieve while building a more diverse workplace community.

  • More practical problem solving – When drawing upon your team’s expertise and creativity to meet challenges for your firm, you are more likely to have success upon a collective of diverse individuals with different backgrounds than employees who all think the same way. Diversity in the workplace leads to diversity in thinking and approaching problems, unlocking new strategies and opportunities your firm can use to succeed in an ever-evolving legal landscape.
  • Improved client relations – A firm that values a diverse workforce may be more attractive to clients. Signaling that your organization values inclusion and equity in the workplace can make clients of all backgrounds feel more comfortable due to relatability. Your firm’s dedication to social responsibility and equality can also attract like-minded clients who observe their values reflected in your team composition and firm.
  • Attract exceptional talent – Similar to increasing your desirability to clients, a diverse team of legal professionals will help attract more qualified, talented candidates to openings at your firm. A diverse, open-minded law firm culture can attract even more quality and diverse candidates, creating a self-sustaining, beneficial recruitment cycle for your firm.

According to an Indeed survey, 17% of job seekers report that the presence of workplace diversity in the hiring process is one of the most influential factors in their feeling of camaraderie and positive connection with a company during the interview stage.1 Diversity recruiting practices are essential for fostering innovation and creating an inclusive workplace that values varied perspectives and experiences.

Legal and Ethical Considerations for Promoting Diversity

When hiring legal professionals, the American Bar Association encourages firms to look at candidates holistically, not just their GPA and class rank.2 Candidates are more than a series of numbers, and should be treated with consideration no matter their background or characteristics. Focusing on candidates holistically can also minimize the impact of implicit biases, accidental or intentional, in the hiring process.

Current State of Diversity in the Legal Industry

The legal industry has undergone significant shifts in the last few years in response to emerging, widely impactful technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and global events like the pandemic. Some of that change has included a positive movement towards more diversity and inclusion. However, the current perception is that many firms lag behind other industries when meeting diverse hiring standards.

Regarding positive movement, the American Bar Association reports that law departments nationwide are increasing their use of minority-owned law firms while amplifying their encouragement of DEI standards at majority-owned firms they retain for legal services.3

According to an article in Bloomberg Law, law placement experts believe that recruitment departments at law firms are aware of the need for better diversity practices, but it’s often the law partners that need convincing to make meaningful change.2

Diversity Hiring by the Numbers: A Statistical Analysis of Recent Performance

When it comes to the current state of diversity in the legal profession, the numbers speak for themselves. The following stats illuminate the opportunities for growth and enhancement in the law industry, particularly in developing best practices for hiring diverse talent.

  • 2021 diverse lateral lawyer hiring – According to the American Bar Association, 5% of lateral lawyer hires in 2021 at the nation's top 100 law firms were lawyers of color. While this percentage may seem underwhelming, it’s actually a significant improvement over previous years. In 2019, for example, the top 100 firms made 17,720 lateral hires, and only 557 were diverse attorneys—amounting to only 3%.4
  • Women increasing presence in law – In most legal professional roles, the percentage of women increased from 2022 to 2023, according to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). For example, the total number of women in associate roles increased from 49.42% in 2022 to 50.31% in 2023. That said, women accounted for less than 28% of partners, showing the significant disparity between male and female legal partners still exists.5
  • LGBTQ lawyers and lawyers of color – According to NALP data, employment of people of color increased across all legal positions in 2023, except for summer associates, which dropped by less than 1%. In 2023, 20.45% of lawyers were people of color, while only 12% of partners were people of color. At the same time, the percentage of LGBTQ legal professionals rose in 2023, but the total amount of LGBTQ representation in law is still relatively low. LGBTQ individuals accounted for less than 5% of total lawyers in 2023, and less than 3% of legal partners.5

To measure the legal industry’s diversity growth against other industries, we can examine a recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) on diversity within medical school enrollment in 2023. According to AAMC, women comprised 54.6% of total enrollment in 2023-24, and held a majority over male enrollees for the fifth year in a row.6

Additionally, AAMC reported a nearly 15% increase in American Indian or Alaska Native matriculants (first-year enrollees) and a 4.5% increase in Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish Origin matriculants.6 For comparison, American Indian or Alaska Natives make up less than 1% of total lawyers at law firms and Latinx lawyers account for less than 5% of total lawyers at law firms.5

Strategies for Inclusive Recruitment in Law Firms

What are some of the actions firms can take today to establish better practices for hiring diverse talent? We’ve outlined some of the most impactful strategies below to help you learn how to attract legal talent through a diverse lens.

  • Audit existing practices – Perform a comprehensive audit on the current level of diversity within your organization. How could it improve? Examine your current hiring process, from the initial application review to the interview process to the offer stage. Understand the biases that can affect the recruitment and selection processes and take steps to eliminate them, such as performing resume evaluations blind.
  • Partner with allies committed to diversity in law – Working with third parties such as bar associations, interest groups, and law departments at industry peers can help your firm stay abreast of the latest best practices and new recruiting techniques to hire for a more diverse legal team.3
  • Develop new policies and education programs – Tools for identifying and pursuing diverse talent are one thing, but does your firm have the policies in place to retain, promote, and fairly compensate newly hired diverse legal professionals? If not, develop the policies and education programs that allow diverse talent to thrive at your organization.
  • Determine success metrics and adjust strategies – Successful recruitment and workplace diversification can look different to individual firms. Determine metric-based goals you want your legal recruiters to work towards, and evaluate progress and success based on regular data analysis.

A robust, experienced legal recruiting partner can help transform your firm into a more efficient, productive, and attractive firm by helping you connect to talented, diverse legal professionals. E.P. Dine has your firm covered for the best and most experienced legal recruitment in the business.

Cultivate Diverse Legal Talent at Your Firm with E.P. Dine

While the industry has seen small positive growth in the percentage of minorities employed in legal positions across the board, the legal industry still lags behind the standards set by other industries. There is promising growth in the legal placement industry to further enrich opportunities for women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and other talented diverse employees.

E.P. Dine is up to the task of achieving your firm’s diverse hiring goals in 2024. As your premier destination for your firm’s recruitment needs, E.P. Dine takes a tailored approach to legal recruiting to ensure every placement is a success story.

Get to know E.P. Dine and our extensive legal recruiting services today.


  1. Indeed. 5 Advantages of Diversity in the Workplace.
  2. Bloomberg Law. ABA Pushes Big Law on Diversity With Recruiting Guidance.
  3. American Bar Association. Increasing Law Firm Diversity.
  4. American Bar Association. Large law firms increase hiring of diverse attorneys, new data shows.
  5. NALP. 2023 NALP Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms.
  6. AAMC. New AAMC Data on Diversity in Medical School Enrollment in 2023.

At E.P. Dine, we are committed to delivering content that is not only relevant and insightful but also rooted in professional integrity and expertise. To achieve this, every article published on the E.P. Dine blog undergoes a meticulous review process by qualified professionals with deep knowledge and experience in the legal field and legal recruitment.

David Walden


As Co-CEO of E.P. Dine and leader of the Law Firm Practice Group, David is a premier legal career strategist and search industry expert to law firm executives and partners throughout the United States. His clients, among the world's finest law firms, engage him when seeking the highest standard of excellence in their search efforts and hiring initiatives.

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