"In order to remain viable and competitive in the future, firms will have to continue to diversify," Ruiz said. According to the State Bar, by 2017 women and minorities will make up 50% of all licensed attorneys; by 2043, minorities will make up 50% of all attorneys in the state. "Aside from being the right thing to do, it makes business sense to hire minority lawyers," said ABLA President Brian K. Jammer. "More and more, sophisticated corporate clients are asking their outside legal counsel for information on the diversity of attorneys within their firms." Indeed, mega-retailer Wal-Mart now requires that each law firm they deal with employ at least one woman and one minority lawyer among the attorneys that handle the retailer's business, Jammer said.
Among the firms receiving top marks in 2005 are Locke Liddell, Strasburger & Price and Jenkens & Gilchrist, which each got an "A+" for their high percentage of minority attorneys and student law clerks. Among those receiving low grades are Jackson Walker and Fulbright & Jaworski, which show "declining results," and both received a "D+."