NAMWOLF Reports Lack of Diversity in Legal Spending by Various New York Government Agencies

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Nearly $10 million spent on outside legal counsel by some of the state's largest public agencies in 2006 -- but not one minority -- or woman-owned law firm was used.

To have spent nothing on a single law firm, owned by a minority or woman, is emblematic of what seems to be taking place nationwide, and it is very difficult to find a legitimate reason for such a gross disparity.

The National Association of Minority- and Women-Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), the nation's leading advocate for equity in law firm retention practices, will announce details of a glaring report on the spending pattern of New York State's public entities. While agencies in the report spent more than $9.5 million on outside legal services in 2006, none of those dollars went to a law firm owned by a minority or woman.

Agency                Total Spent on Outside Law Firms    Amount Spent on Minority- or Woman- Owned Law Firms
Port Authority of
New York and
New Jersey                         $7,443,280.00                $0
New York State
Thruway Authority             $1,500,947.10                     $0
New York State
Energy Research and
Development Authority             $653,314.16                    $0
Total                                         $9,597,541.26                $0

"According to my research, there are no statutes governing diversity of State spending to include minority- and women-owned law firms. And, I plan to propose legislation that will require both state authorities and their vendors to improve diversity in their hiring practices across the board," said New York State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), an active member of the Committee on Authorities, which oversees spending and management of State authorities. Assemblyman Scarborough held a legislative press conference regarding research findings with NAMWOLF on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 10:30 a.m. on the steps of New York's City Hall.

NAMWOLF's New York State report is the first in a series of report cards the organization will release during the coming year. Future reports will cover practices in and around the nation's 10 largest cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, Miami and Washington, D.C.

"Our research on outside counsel retention practices of New York State's government agencies reveals a shocking lack of commitment to working with women- and minority-owned law firms," said Emery K. Harlan, co-founder and chairman of the board of directors for NAMWOLF. "To have spent nothing on a single law firm, owned by a minority or woman, is emblematic of what seems to be taking place nationwide, and it is very difficult to find a legitimate reason for such a gross disparity."

NAMWOLF's Third Annual Meeting and Law Firm Expo will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City. NAMWOLF members, partners and corporate sponsors will further discuss the report and other issues surrounding diversity in the legal profession.

In-House Counsel may register for NAMWOLF's Third Annual Meeting and Law Firm Expo by Saturday, Oct. 20, visit http://www.namwolf.org or call 414-277-1139.

About NAMWOLF
The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (http://www.namwolf.org) was founded in June 2001. Headquartered in Milwaukee, NAMWOLF is a national trade association that advocates for increased use of minority and women-owned law firms by major corporations and public entities throughout the United States.

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Shelley Pfaendler

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