California Lawyers Association

Data Shows Need for Greater Latino Bench and Bar Representation

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Recent demographic data shows that the California legal profession has made significant progress since 2006 in adding more women and people of color to the bench and bar. However, more advancement is needed to reflect the state’s diversity, the data shows.

Hispanics and Latinos in particular are especially underrepresented. This group comprises 36% of the state’s population yet accounts for a mere 7% of all of California’s licensed active attorneys, according to data from the State Bar of California’s recent Diversity Report Card.

Likewise, the most recent Judicial Council report shows that while the number of judges identifying as Hispanic or Latino has nearly doubled to 11% since 2006, there remains a significant gap when compared to the large statewide Hispanic/Latino population. 

The Diversity Report Card found that women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities consistently report low levels of satisfaction with workplace experiences.

The report outlined steps that lawyers and law firms should take to continue making progress to diversify the legal profession, which will have a positive impact on the administration of justice, fairness and the rule of law. 

Even within diverse workplaces, people can feel excluded from opportunities for promotion. Recommendations for employers:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to increasing opportunities and improving the workplace culture for women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities.
  • Give your junior and mid-level staff the opportunities they require to succeed and advance into leadership positions.
  • Establish and clearly communicate criteria for advancement within your organization.
  • Institutionalize processes to ensure that all attorneys have equal access to the resources and experiences needed to satisfy those criteria.
  • Provide executive coaching or leadership training opportunities.
  • Solicit feedback on what kind of career development is needed. 
  • Revisit your salary and compensation tables regularly to ensure you are keeping pace with the labor market.
  • Set up a 360-degree feedback process to learn how people of different backgrounds are experiencing the workplace and how these experiences may lead to disparities in advancement.
  • Review salaries to determine whether there are disparities among people who are in similar roles, and if so, why.

The California Judicial Council has created a Judicial Diversity Toolkit to help judges and courts encourage diverse attorneys and students to pursue judicial careers. Learn more about judicial demographics and the engagement opportunities available here

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