The Color Issue Is Also a Gender Issue – Minority Women In Big Law — Also, Jury Reaches Hedge Fund Verdict

When race has been discussed in the industry in previous years, gender hasn’t been part of the dialogue, says Kathy-Ann Hart of New York’s Verna Myers Consulting Group, L.L.C.   But efforts to make a firm racially inclusive should hone in on this category more than others, as this group is sending out signals that it is the most dissatisfied.


According to Law.com, “[W]omen of color experience… less satisfaction and more obstacles at large firms than their peers, including men of color.”   As per a recent survey that centered around demographics at large firms, minority women showed dissatisfaction with their jobs by such markers as being less likely to recommend their place of employment to friends who were job-hunting and feeling no sense of connection with any partners at the firms.

They also gave the firms overall low marks in all categories.

Law.com based their information on the Minority Experience Report, which culled responses in the Midlevel Associates Survey, and the Summer Associates Survey. In these reports, 6,356 midlevel associates revealed their gender and racial background, as did 6,969 summer associates.

The responses originated from firms that, for the most part, were on the Am Law 200 list of the highest-grossing firms in the nation.

In general, African-Americans and Latino respondents rated their firms lower in most categories than did white women and Asian-Americans. In an interesting side note, minority men, white men and white women all claimed to be satisfied with their work and “said that they felt they were growing professionally at their firms,” per the report.

The blog observes that young men of color are “feeling the love” as firms ramp up their efforts to diversify and as, perhaps by virtue of the changing landscape, fellow attorneys find themselves undergoing the equivalent of sensitivity training.

Minority women, however, are evidently not feeling that love—or at least are feeling less of it. “They gave firms lower marks than all other groups did in almost every category, including quality of work, interest level of work, satisfaction with work and professional growth,” noted Law.com.

Interestingly, white women—themselves a minority in some respects—gave somewhat similar answers as their women-of-color sisters in the following areas:  client contact, the importance of partnership, how much they aspired to be like the partners in their firm, whether they would recommend their firms, how they rated their firm overall and whether they would be at the firm in two years.

Overall, ‘though, minority women’s answers were seen as somewhat more negative in tone. For instance, they were harshest when rating their firms’ attempts at diversity, and they felt they had been given less responsibility than their white male counterparts.

All of this information suggests a challenging and exciting opportunity for large firms to tap into this issue—and to work with administration to develop efforts to make their minority women associates feel valued.  “[That we are not treated as well] doesn’t seem intentional,” said one minority woman respondent. ‘It is just that the partners do not feel as comfortable with associates who are not like them.”

This fourth-year associate also wrote: “In many cases [at my firm], female associates, associates of color, and gay associates are not treated as well as straight male associates.”  She further explained that her firm was probably wondering why it couldn’t “keep women and minority associates”. “Well, this is the answer.”   To read more, see:  http://www.law.com/jsp/law/LawArticleFriendly.jsp?id=900005558326

Late-breaking news:  The drawn-out courtroom drama involving the hedge-fund titan, Raj Rajaratnam, co-founder of Galleon Group, has come to a close with a close-call conviction—at least until an appeal is filed.

Raj Rajaratnam was convicted of five conspiracy counts and nine securities fraud charges. The jury asked repeatedly to listen to several of the 45 tapes of wiretaps again, and finally reached a verdict on what the Associated Press said the prosecutors called “the largest insider trading ever involving hedge funds”.

Seven weeks of testimony sent a message from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that white collar laws apply to everyone, “no matter how much money you have.”

Defense attorney John Dowd said an appeal will be filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  There were 37 trades that the government sought to prosecute.  Only 14 made it to trial.  On that note, Dowd told reporters at Manhattan Federal Court, Wednesday, May 11. “The score is 23-14, in favor of the defense,” he said. “We’ll see you in the 2nd Circuit.”

See: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2011-05-11-Hedge%20Fund-Insider%20Trading/id-516bf46476e54d00a58a4b633e85d483

-EM

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