Why Women and People of Color in Law Still Hear “You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer”

From Harvard Business Review authored by Tsedale M. Melaku:

“There are certain unspoken rules of success in corporate America, not least of which is “looking the part.” That often means tailored suits, a certain range of coiffed hair styles, and other accoutrements or signals of success. In the legal field, a popular refrain directed at women and people of color is “You don’t look like a lawyer.” It’s the idea that the norms of success, ability, and competence are tied to looking a certain way — usually white and male.

As confirmed by a recent report from the National Association for Law Placement and a recent survey of diversity at 232 law firms by Vault and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, women of color and black women specifically continue to be significantly underrepresented, making up 8.57% and 1.73% of all attorneys, respectively. Law firms are overwhelming white and male despite efforts to recruit people of color from prestigious academic institutions. These candidates often go on to find their ambitions stunted by the unwelcoming landscape of corporate America.”

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