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When I wrote about the dearth of blacks among the new partnership classes in Big Law a few weeks ago, I asked firms and individuals to ping me about any new black partners out there who escaped my radar. The good news is that more than a handful of people responded, so I now have a few more additions to this rarefied list.

Without further ado, here are the latest unicorns:

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer: 16 new partners, of which 10 (!) are women, including Raqiyyah Pippins, who is African-American.

Drinker Biddle & Reath: Nine new partners, comprised of five women and four men, including David Williams, who’s African-American.

Jenner & Block: 12 new partners, representing 75 percent racial diversity or women, including Keisha Stanford, who’s African-American.

Nixon Peabody: 12 new partners, representing 60 percent racial diversity or women, including John Marti and Ed Campbell, who are African-American.

Shearman & Sterling: eight new partners, including three women and an African-American (Derrick Lott).

Thompson Coburn: Seven new partners, including four women and two people of color, Felicia Williams and R. Nelson Williams, who are both African-Americans (same surname but unrelated).

And let’s not forget that Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which I covered in my original post about black partners, promoted a black woman Nnedinma C. Ifudu Nweke this year. (Akin has six black partners at the firm—three men and three women—which makes it rather exceptional.)

So does this list make you more optimistic about the state of black lawyers? Well, I don’t think anyone can use the word “optimistic” to describe the state of affairs, although it’s not quite as bleak as it might be. For one thing, it’s encouraging that black women represent about 50 percent of elevations among blacks in this limited sampling. For another, it’s a relief to see that these new partners are spread across a broad range of practice areas, including corporate, rather than predictable low-price practice areas like labor and employment (more on that in my next post).

What’s discouraging, though, is how puny this list of new black partners is. I asked headhunters, lawyers and colleagues—but finding black associates who ascended to partnership at major firms was like searching for a tropical bird in the dead of winter. (There were a number of firms that told me that they’ve made lateral hires of black partners, including Irell & Manella).

That said, the year is still young. Perhaps Big Law will surprise us all.

 

vchen@alm.com

Twitter: @lawcareerist.