Most Popular Cities and Practice Areas for Black Attorneys

most popular cities and practice areas

It’s no secret that the legal profession continues to struggle with racial diversity. Sadly, it’s still far too common for Black attorneys to be “the only one” in the courtroom, at a conference, or even at a firm.  But despite the struggles, Black attorneys have persevered.  We practice in several areas and in many cities.  This entry will highlight the most popular cities and practice areas for Black attorneys.

Knowing where to find Black lawyers matters for several reasons.  It matters to the law student who is considering a job offer.  It matters to the lawyer who is thinking about relocating.  Recruiters may also find the information useful.  Also, knowing which practice areas are popular with Black lawyers can help those who want to support African American Attorneys better target their efforts.  Hopefully, this information will provide valuable insight for all these groups.

Most Popular Cities for Black Attorneys

Often, data about the cities where lawyers practice is not broken down by race.  However, two reports provide information that give us vital information.  The first is the ABA’s After the JD report.  The After the JD project followed those who graduated law school in 2000 and tracked their career progress over the years.  NALP’s report on the Class of 2015’s chosen cites also provides a helpful breakdown.

According to After the JD, in 2004, the African American survey respondents were most likely to practice in the following cities:

  1.  Washington, D.C.  (13 percent)
  2. (tie) New York/Atlanta (12 percent)
  3. Houston (9 percent)
  4. Chicago (8 percent)
  5. Los Angeles (7 percent)

The NALP survey’s 2015 grads chose the following cities:

  1.  Atlanta (14.66 percent)
  2. Houston (12.18 percent)
  3. Charlotte (9.48 percent)
  4. Pittsburgh (8.82 percent)
  5. Indianapolis (8.33 percent)

While these surveys were taken at different times, they still offer solid information.  First, Black lawyers clearly gravitate toward larger cities.  Second, Atlanta and Houston hold the distinction of being the only two cities to make both lists.  Third, while the earlier list is dominated by major cities, the 2015 list includes cities that, while still major cities, are smaller than the ones on the first list.

Most Popular Practice Areas for Black Attorneys

Just as Black attorneys are found in several cities, we are found in many practice areas.  The third After the JD looked at where the Class of 2000 had practiced over the years.  This list reflects the areas where Black attorneys were well-represented.

  1. Government (28.4 percent)
  2. Business – Inside Counsel (14.8 percent)
  3. Non-governmental public (Nonprofit) (13.3 percent)
  4. Solo practice (11.6)

While these numbers may not seem surprising, when compared to those of white attorneys, they show that Black attorneys truly shine in these practice areas.  For example, while African American attorneys are 28.4 percent of government attorneys – the highest percentage of any race – white lawyers comprise just 16.7 percent.  Similarly, Black lawyers are 14.8 percent of in-house attorneys, while white lawyers were just 12.1 percent.  Just 9.9 percent of the white NALP respondents worked in the nonprofit sector compared to 13.3 percent of African American participants.  Finally, as previously mentioned on this blog, Black lawyers are often found in solo practice.  While 11.6 percent of Black lawyers work in that area, just 9.9 percent of white lawyers do.  In fact, African American attorneys were more likely to work as solos than any other race.   Clearly, African American attorneys excel in many areas.

Though Black attorneys do well in many areas, unfortunately, private practice continues to be elusive – specifically Big Law.  The NALP survey indicated that African American attorneys were far less likely than other groups to work in firms with more than 100 attorneys.  So, while Black attorneys have made progress in many areas, lawyers, recruiters, and the profession should continue to work for diversity in large firms.

While the above statistics highlight the most popular cities and practice areas for Black attorneys can survive, African American attorneys can survive anywhere with the proper support.  The African American Attorney Network was created to help African American attorneys find clients, mentors, jobs, and other resources to help them excel.