Blanck, P., Hyseni, F., & Wise, F. (2021). Diversity and Inclusion in the American Legal Profession: Discrimination and Bias Reported by Lawyers with Disabilities and Lawyers Who Identify as LGBTQ+. American Journal of Law & Medicine, 47(1), 9-61. doi:10.1017/amj.2021.1
Purpose This article is part of an ongoing body of investigation examining the experiences of lawyers with diverse and multiple minority identities, with particular focus on lawyers with disabilities; lawyers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (“LGBTQ+” as an overarching term); and lawyers with minority identities associated with race and ethnicity, gender, and age. The focus of this article is on discrimination and bias in their workplaces as reported by the lawyers experiencing it.
Methods We employ survey data from the first phase of this investigation, gathered from the survey responses of 3590 lawyers located across all states in the United States and working in most types and sizes of legal venues. The data were collected between 2018 and 2019, before the 2020 pandemic. We estimate differences across three categories of discrimination reported—subtle-only discrimination, overt-only discrimination, and both subtle and overt discrimination. We estimate the nature and magnitude of associations among individual and organizational variables, and we use multinomial logistic regression to illustrate relative risks of reports of discrimination for intersecting identities.
Results As compared to non-disabled lawyers, lawyers with disabilities show a higher likelihood of reporting both subtle and overt discrimination versus no discrimination. Similarly, lawyers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (“LGBQ”) show a higher likelihood of reporting both subtle and overtdiscrimination, and subtle-only discrimination, as compared to lawyers who identify as straight/heterosexual. Women lawyers and lawyers of color are more likely to report all three types of discrimination. In general, younger lawyers are more likely to report subtle-only discrimination when compared to older lawyers. Lawyers working at a private firm are less likely to report all types of discrimination, while working for a larger organization is associated with a higher relative risk of reporting subtle-only discrimination versus no discrimination.
Conclusions The current study represents a next, incremental step for better understanding non-monochromatic and intersectional aspects of individual identity in the legal profession. The findings illustrate that primary individual and multiple minority identities, as identified by disability, sexual orientation, gender, race/ethnicity, and age, are associated with reports of discrimination and bias in the legal workplace.