Women and blacks have made almost no headway in recent years in increasing their ranks at major United States law firms, according to the latest data from the National Association for Law Placement.

The organization’s annual compilation of legal employer data shows that although women and minorities made small gains at the level of law firm partner this year, the overall percentage of women associates, or entry-level lawyers, dropped in the last five years, and the percentage of African-American associates has declined every year since 2009.

“It’s troubling to see the numbers for women and African-American associates seemingly reversing course,” said James G. Leipold, the association’s executive director. This year, he said, “marks the sixth year of decline in representation of black associates and, while the percentage decrease is small, the overall number itself was small to begin with, so any decline is significant, and the trend is distressing.”

At the partnership level, representation of women and minorities rose slightly this year, compared with 2014. Women accounted for 21.46 percent of partners, up from 21.05 percent last year. Minorities accounted for 7.52 percent, up from 7.33 percent in 2014. Twenty-three years ago, in 1993, when the association first began tracking the numbers, women made up 12.27 percent of partners and minorities accounted for 2.55 percent of partners.

via Elizabeth Olsen,  Women and Blacks Make Little Progress at Big Law Firms

If the number of women and minorities is dropping at the associate level of law firms today, we can project that diversity will drop correspondingly at the partner level in years to come. In other words, little, no, or negative progress can be projected in the decade to come. This has to represent a great deal of complacency across the industry to the trend, and while some firms may be increasing diversity, that suggests that the majority are not, or are actually going retrograde.