Monday, October 29, 2007

Pushing the river

A group of law students at Stanford Law School has begun rating prominent law firms on their diversity. The group is called “Building a Better Legal Profession,” and they have an official faculty adviser, Michele Landis Dauber.

The article explains how the process works:

“Law firms in the top fifth received A’s, in the second fifth B’s, and so on. Overall grades were arrived at by averaging grades for partners and associates in five categories: women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and gay people.”

Now, you wouldn’t think that an absence of minorities by itself, without any evidence of discrimination, indicated anything definitively, would you? I mean, that would indict Iowa.

“This is 2007,” Professor Dauber said. “If you can’t find a single black or Hispanic partner, that’s not an accident.”

There you have it--any prominent law firm without a black or Hispanic partner did it on purpose.

The first sentence of the article tells you what this is really about: the market.

“A bunch of law students at Stanford have started assigning letter grades to their prospective employers, which pretty much tells you who holds the power in the market for new associates. It’s not easy to persuade new lawyers from the top schools to accept starting salaries of only $160,000.”

I mean, you need to pay back those loans somehow.

Supposedly, “a second-year student at Stanford recently turned down an offer from one firm as soon as he saw that it got an F on the diversity report card.”

Probably because he had a better offer somewhere else irrespective of the report card.


At 5:09 PM, Blogger Mair said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the proportion of minority lawyers to white male lawyers is pretty low. That means that it would be virtually impossible for every law firm to have a diverse number of associates. Thus, lack of diversity in a law firm is probably representative of the pool of possible lawyers. I could be wrong though.

Of course, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if prominent law firms were discriminating in their hiring practices. I actually wouldn't be surprised at all.


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