Ballard Spahr partner Stephanie L. Franklin-Suber, who served as Philadelphia’s city solicitor when Edward G. Rendell was mayor, said the city’s law department for decades had white men as solicitors. In recent years, however, there have been around 10 city solicitors from diverse backgrounds, she said.

"Diversity really starts at the top," Ms. Franklin-Suber said. "If the administration generally has opportunities for women and for minorities to have high-ranking positions, then that is going to filter down through the various departments."