When I started law school in 2001, the Dean told us that my class was the first to be made up of more than fifty percent women. Yet two decades later, women and people of color are still mistaken for secretaries, court reporters, assistants, and even criminal defendants.
In addition to helping remind people that the woman or person of color they encounter in a law office is an attorney, too, I also want to help showcase the diversity of our profession for the next generation.
According to a 2020 report by the American Bar Association, only 37% of practicing attorneys are women, despite higher numbers in entering classes at the nation's law schools. That number has been stagnant since at least 2017.
The numbers for minority membership are, in the ABA's words, "even more sobering." Only 5% of lawyers are African American, another 5% are Hispanic, and only 2% are Asian. These numbers have been static for a decade or more. Native American lawyers make up less than .5% of the profession.
The intersections of these groups is even worse. While a photo project like this may not do much to move the needle, I believe this: Representation matters. Seeing someone who looks like you pursuing a profession helps make the idea that you can do it too more real. And we need that.
I started the project during the COVID-19 pandemic. The photoshoots were all done remotely, using Apple's FaceTime technology to allow me to photograph attorneys all over the country while travel was restricted. As the country re-opens, I hope to be able to get back in the studio to create more work in person.