The Diversity Committee is off to a great start. The committee is doing a “deep dive” into the results from last year’s WSBA member survey. The statistics are fascinating. For instance, just looking at employment settings, WSBA members over 40 years old are almost equally likely to be in solo practice as opposed to group practice (25% in each), with government employment a distant third at 15%.
On the other hand, while about 25% of women and sexual orientation minorities are in group practice, government employment runs over 20% in both groups, with solo practice under 15%. The pattern is not the same for racial minorities. About a third of racial minorities are in group firms, with both government and solo practice under 15%.
I find it interesting that women and minorities both are less likely to choose solo practice than attorneys as a whole (around 20%) and attorneys over 40. I don’t know whether this is a result of cultural choice, perceived barriers, or some other explanation altogether, but it raises questions about the accuracy of the conventional wisdom that attorneys in these groups are being “forced” into solo practice by the unavailability of law firm jobs. I look forward to more information from our consultants.
The Budget and Audit Committee met with the CPA firm that did this year’s audit. We were pleased to learn that the accountants found no issues with our books. We also reviewed last year’s budget now that the books are closed on the fiscal year. Because of the cuts made in the wake of the referendum, we were significantly under budget as to personnel costs and were able to carry forward a somewhat larger cushion to offset the lower dues during the current fiscal year. Last year’s decisions were difficult, but it is clear that the cuts have resulted in a fairly stable financial situation for the next few years.
We’ll be heading to Olympia next week for our Board of Governors meeting on Thursday, January 17. I want to remind you that all board meetings are open to the public so I encourage you to attend if you are interested. The agenda and meetings materials will be posted this Friday on the WSBA website. If you should have any questions or comments prior to the meeting, please feel free to email me, MicheleRadosevich@dwt.com.