The legal profession has long recognized the need for diversity and inclusion in its ranks. Our bar members need to be as diverse as the populations we serve. Lawyers not only serve in private practice but also as judges, senators, leaders of corporations, prosecutors, public defenders, heads of government agencies, and presidents.
The Puget Sound Area Minority Clerkship Program (PSAMCP) began in 1990
in response to various national surveys showing that the level of minority lawyer
involvement in major Seattle law firms had not increased significantly over the
previous decade. PSAMCP was founded by representatives from interested law
firms, the Loren Miller and Hispanic Bar Associations, and the University of Washington and Seattle University Law Schools. It was endorsed by the Asian, Latino/a,
Northwest Indian, and Seattle-King County Bar Associations, as well as the University of Washington and Seattle University Law Schools’ Alumni Associations.
PSAMCP aimed to identify those students whose backgrounds, academic and
otherwise, tended to predict successful career performance, and to provide those
students with the opportunity to work in a prominent law firm or corporate law
department environment. In this way, it sought to diversify the profession by providing opportunity for meaningful participation for underrepresented students
seeking to join the profession.
Each summer, PSAMCP offered approximately 10 students the opportunity to
have full-time engagement with one of the program’s employers. Periodically, the
identity of the participating employers changed both as the result of the budgets
of the firms, and as our larger employers developed their own in-house diversity
fellowship programs in the mid-2000s. As these larger firms ended their direct
engagement, other firms and corporations took their place, allowing the PSAMCP
to maintain a stable and consistent cadre of employers offering diverse candidates access to major law firms and corporate practice.
Since its inception, PSAMCP has provided opportunities to over 225 diverse
law students from the University of Washington School of Law and Seattle University School of Law. Many of these students are now employed in firms, corporations, and other public service legal positions in the state. Unfortunately, our
aspiration for diversity has not yet changed the demographics of our profession.
Attorneys have one of the least diverse professions, with 88% of lawyers being
white, and women making up only 17% of equity partners.
Though we remained unwavering in our mission, we recognized a need to
DIVERSITY IN LEGAL
by Teresa B. Daggett
Program Offers Support for
Employers and Students