Maria Antonieta Grasso, Partner, published an article in ABA Journal, reflecting on a staggering statistic put out by a recent ABA study: Only 2% of equity partners at large law firms are women of color—a number that hasn’t changed in the past 20 years.
Having emigrated to the U.S. at age four with her parents, Maria grew up in poverty and was raised mostly by her Salvadoran mother who couldn’t speak, read, or write English. Drawing from her experience, Maria now mentors students at Centro Legal de la Raza’s Youth Law Academy in Oakland, CA, where she helps them see it’s possible to beat the odds—her success being proof.
In the article, Maria shares her experiences coming up as a minority woman attorney. She reveals how her challenging background helped shape who she is today, and how having the support and encouragement of her Boxer+Gerson mentors was essential to her success. No less important, working at Boxer+Gerson—a firm that treats everyone with respect and recognizes their contributions—were key to her growth and continued happiness.
The ABA study cited that minority female lawyers leave firms because they fail to create cultures where contributions are recognized. To overcome this, Maria’s advice is simple: Respect your lawyers, assign engaged mentors, and create a culture of recognition.
For a deeper dive into Maria’s story, we invite you to read the article: How law firms can increase diversity among equity partners
This article was first published in the ABA Journal online on September 10, 2020.