Pathway to Partnership Program

The National Association for Law Placement’s (“NALP”) 2017 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms reports that in 2017, only 3.31% of partners at law firms were Asian American. The percentage is even smaller for Asian American women partners, at 1.23%. While the percentages have risen slowly since 2009, those rates are still lagging far behind the rates of Asian American associates at law firms, which are 11.4% for all associates, and 6.52% for Asian American women associates.

While making partner at a law firm is a difficult challenge for any associate, the numbers confirm what many of us know is a reality: it’s harder for minority associates, including Asian Americans, to get there. In its report, NALP describes the “very slow, incremental progress in increasing the presence of women and minorities in the partner ranks.” A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law, a study led by Justice Goodwin Liu, reports that Asian American attorneys face the largest drop-off in the percentage of associates vs. partners among all minority attorneys, and also disproportionately high attrition rates at law firms.

AABA is excited to announce that it is kicking off Pathway to Partnership, a new mentorship program specifically designed to help talented senior associates at law firms develop a strategy to achieve their goal of becoming a law firm partner. Pathway to Partnership will match senior associates who are in the “zone” of partnership with law firm partner mentors from different firms, as well as in-house counsel mentors. Pathway to Partnership will help senior associates develop a strong business plan, identify potential obstacles and challenges in their way, and build strategies to reach the eventual goal of partnership.

Pathway to Partnership will kick-off with a meeting of all senior associate participants and mentors in the fall of 2018. From there, Pathway to Partnership will encourage each senior associate to meet one-on-one with their mentors. Pathway to Partnership will suggest specific tasks each senior associate to accomplish, with the guidance and input of their mentors. These tasks will include: (1) development of a business plan, (2) identification of key decision makers at the law firm, (3) identification of key sponsors, both at the law firm and outside, and (4) action items. Pathway to Partnership will also plan joint events to supplement one-on-one meetings.

Senior associates are invited to apply to Pathways to Partnership by September 14, 2018. Application requirements are:

  • Current résumé.
  • Statement of interest describing why you should be selected for Pathway to Partnership (no more than 500 words in length).
  • Short statement from a partner/shareholder at your current firm stating that you are in the “zone” of partnership.
  • Email all materials in one pdf file to aaba.bayarea@gmail.com no later than 11:59 PM Pacific on September 14, 2018.

For questions, contact aaba.bayarea@gmail.com.

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