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Ivan Wang is an attorney for McKool Smith law firm in Austin. He says he has never faced challenges as a minority and that his firm gives equal opportunities to all races. Yet, he is one of only two minority attorneys at the firm.

McKool Smith received a D on the 2007 law firm report card presented at a press conference Thursday at the Travis County courthouse.

The report card, issued by minority lawyers' groups, gave a letter grade to the top 25 law firms in Austin based on the number of minority attorneys, minority partners and minority law clerks involved with each firm.

"What we ask of the law firms is very simple," Paul Ruiz, recruiting chairman of the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, said in a statement. "Even though the percentage of minorities in Texas is well over 50 percent, we are asking Austin law firms to meet the threshold of the percentage of minority attorneys who are licensed to practice law in Texas, which, according to the Texas State Bar, is 15 percent."

Any law firm with a minority representation of 15 percent received an A on the report card, Ruiz said.

According to a report released by the State Bar of Texas, Hispanics make up 7 percent and African Americans make up 4 percent of the total number of State Bar Attorneys in Texas in 2007.

The Brown McCarroll firm received the highest grade, an A, with more than 24 percent of their attorneys being minorities, according to the report card. Five of the 24 firms on this year's report card failed.

Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody improved from a grade F in 2000 to a C in 2007, according to a diversity progress report released with the report card.

Paul Saenz, a Hispanic shareholder at Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, said the firm had formed a diversity committee and implemented improvements in their hiring process to develop more diverse candidate pools since their 2000 report card grade.

Having minority attorneys at law firms is important for representing all communities and businesses and to take advantage of all market segments, Saenz said.

Law professor Daniel Rodriguez said that teachers and administrators work on encouraging minority law students to succeed in the profession and stay energetic in their pursuit to find their first job.

Rodriguez also said the small number of minority law professors at elite schools and at senior levels makes it hard to relate and identify to the backgrounds of the minority students in their classes.

According to the 2004 census report, white male attorneys make an average of $17,000 more than their Hispanic male colleagues and $46,000 more than their black male colleagues.

Law student Yuridia Caire said she does not personally feel discriminated as a minority in the UT School of Law, but said she notices many law firm's Web sites show very low numbers of minority attorneys and partners.

"Many law firms all over say they are dedicated to increasing minorities, but in the end, their actions are not what they are saying," she said. Caire is a vice president of the Chicano and Hispanic Law Students' Association and said she notices that many law firms hold study sessions with the group and then do not end up hiring the students.

The Chicano and Hispanic Law Students' Association is dedicated to helping law students in the law school process and improving their bar scores, Caire said.

According to the UT Statistical Handbook, of the 1,427 enrolled law students at UT in 2005, 230 were Hispanic and 77 were black. In 2000, there were 126 Hispanic and 33 black law students out of the 1,406 enrolled.

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