McGeorge School of Law and employers’ collective survey sheds light on DEI efforts in local legal community
Based on data from a 2022 McGeorge School of Law-led annual diversity survey of young lawyers, Sacramento legal employers have made progress in their efforts to improve the climate for Lawyers of Color and LGBTQIA+ lawyers, and there is still plenty of room to grow, particularly in the area of mentoring.
According to the first annual Sacramento Young Lawyer Diversity Survey created by the Sacramento Legal Employer Diversity Collaborative, 70% of legal employers in Sacramento have expressed a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. The survey also found that most Sacramento legal employers provide some form of DEI training, and most respondents believe such training is important and valuable.
On the other hand, less than half of the respondents reported that their employers have a formal mentoring program, and only about half of those whose employers have a mentoring program reported that the program addressed their needs. Professional development and managing workload were the top two areas that respondents seek mentoring in.
The most common suggestion from survey respondents in terms of improving DEI climates in legal workplaces is to have a dedicated and consistent training program and make sure that senior leaders participate in it. In addition, many respondents recommended that employers hold more social or networking-type events to foster a more inclusive culture.
Administered last spring, the survey polled local attorneys in the Greater Sacramento Region who have been practicing law for less than 10 years. The anonymous survey asked questions intended to help gain a deeper understanding of DEI efforts, successes, and challenges of the local legal community, asking respondents questions about their employers’ practices in regard to training, education, and dedication to DEI in the legal profession.
“The survey is a useful step in understanding the legal community’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and needs,” Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz said. “Our hope is to help legal employers, including McGeorge, examine and evaluate the effectiveness of our existing DEI efforts and to promote a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.”
“At the same time, our response rate – 10% – has room for improvement, which we hope to increase with our 2023 survey,” Dean Schwartz said.
The Collaborative anticipates launching the second annual Sacramento Young Lawyer Diversity Survey before the end of March 2023.
Demographics of Respondents
The survey also gathered demographic data about the respondents:
- 71 percent of respondents work in law firms or other legal organizations with 50 or fewer attorneys.
- Almost 60 percent of respondents practice in private law firms.
- 29 percent of respondents work for government agencies.
- Almost 10 percent of respondents work from public interest law firms.
- 42 percent of respondents are People of Color.
- Approximately 18 percent of respondents have disabilities, including auditory, visual, mobility, or neurodiversity.
- A little more than 22 percent of respondents are members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Demographics of the nation’s legal community
White individuals are overrepresented in the legal profession in comparison to the U.S. population. White people comprised 71 percent of the U.S. population in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 81 percent of lawyers are white, according to the American Bar Association’s 2022 Profile of the Legal Profession.
In California, 66 percent of lawyers are white. However, only 39 percent of the state’s adult population is white, according to the State Bar of California’s 2022 Report Card on the Diversity of California's Legal Profession.
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