For Immediate Release: June 18, 2012
Media Contact: Jennifer Bowles • 951.826.8480 • jennifer.bowles@BBKlaw.com
RIVERSIDE, Calif. _ Best Best & Krieger LLP ranked 15th among the nation's most racially diverse law firms, with nearly 20 percent of its attorneys hailing from minority backgrounds, according to The American Lawyer's annual Diversity Scorecard, published in the magazine’s June issue.
BB&K, with 200 attorneys in nine offices in California and Washington D.C., placed in the Top 20 for the fifth year straight. In all, 233 of the nation’s largest and highest-grossing firms responded to this year’s survey, placing BB&K’s No. 15 ranking in the top 6.5 percent.
Eric Garner, BB&K’s managing partner, said he was very pleased with the results of the Diversity Scorecard, which also placed the firm ninth overall for the highest percentage of minority partners.
“We believe that our continued presence in the Top 20, and our highest ranking yet, reflects the firm’s longstanding commitment to diversity, which we believe is essential to foster the kind of creative solutions our clients need in 2012,” Garner said.
BB&K clients includes cities, counties, public agencies, water and school districts, companies and individuals.
The survey showed:
- BB&K’s percentage of minority attorneys, at 18.5 percent, or 35 attorneys, is nearly five percent higher than the national average of 13.6 percent.
- Of the 195 attorneys at BB&K, 15 are Hispanic-American, 15 are Asian-American, four are African-American and one is of mixed race.
- The percentage of BB&K’s minority attorneys who are partners, at 14.4 percent, rose more than 2 percent from the year before and was the ninth highest overall.
One of those partners, Gene Tanaka, sits on the firm’s executive committee and is managing partner of the Walnut Creek office. Another partner, Marco Martinez, is managing partner of the firm’s Irvine office.
Tanaka, who is Japanese-American, said the firm has always been welcoming to attorneys from diverse backgrounds.
“In my 27 years at BB&K, I can honestly say that my race has never been a consideration or issue,” he said. “I frankly do not think anyone really thought about it professionally or socially. I cannot imagine any better treatment by a group of people.”
Tanaka said shortly after he arrived at the firm, BB&K’s partners appointed him to lead an ad hoc committee to consider diversity and, as a result, the firm adopted a policy in the early 1990s to encourage diversity based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation before many other firms.
In 2008 and 2009, BB&K ranked 19th in the Diversity Scorecard; 17th in 2010; and 19th last year.
Last year, BB&K launched a scholarship/fellowship program for a law student from a diverse background. The program offers the recipient a paid summer associate position for two summers during law school in addition to a $7,500 scholarship once the program is completed. The program’s current recipient, Leo Li from Loyola Law School, will be working in the firm’s Riverside and Ontario offices for his second summer this year. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Li is on track to graduate in 2013.
According to American Lawyer, large firms slightly reduced their percentage of minority attorneys to 13.6 percent. The magazine editors said they weren’t too worried about the slight dip from 13.9 percent from the year before because the editors tweaked the methodology for the latest survey to include full-time equivalent numbers for the entire calendar year. That meant that part-time attorneys were prorated in their statistics.