Law firms and the downside of 'aggressive racial preferences'
Here is a devastating statistic on racial preferences: Blacks account for only 1 or 2 percent of law students with high grades, yet they make up 8 percent of lawyers hired by large law firms.
Why are blacks hired by the large firms at four to eight times the rate that their marks seem to warrant? Because the understandable pressures to hire more black lawyers result in offers to many blacks who understandably cannot keep pace with the faster-track competition. Young black lawyers leave big firms at two to three times the rate of whites. Those who stay are often consigned to grunt work that their bosses think they can handle.
Richard Sander, a UCLA law professor, wrote a piece in 2004 in the Stanford Law Review showing how racial preferences backfire against black students. Now, according to Stuart Taylor Jr., the excellent legal columnist at National Journal, Sanders has written another strong article on the subject to be published soon in the North Carolina Law Review. Taylor writes: "Many capable African-Americans experience frustration and failure because racial preferences thrust them into elite settings where they compete with whites with far better qualifications."
Sander's forthcoming piece will be titled "The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm." The paradox is that "aggressive racial preferences" at the law-school and law-firm level tend to undermine the careers of blacks and thus cause the failure of the whole preferential system. The core of the problem is the small number of blacks who emerge from high school with strong academic skills.
Taylor writes that at least 46 percent of black lawyers at large firms had law-school grade-point averages below 3.25, compared with 14 percent of whites. At law schools, preferences ensure that black students are clustered near the bottom of their classes, with only 8 percent ranking in the top half.
Sander and Taylor acknowledge that bias may play some role at large law firms but cannot account for the high rate of failure. Taylor writes: "Why would the same firms that use aggressive racial preferences to bring in minorities then turn around and discriminate against them?" Taylor reports that 56 percent of black lawyers at large firms admitted thinking that their race or ethnicity had been relatively important in winning them job offers. This is significant because testimony at a hearing in Washington yesterday seemed to point generally in the opposite direction. David Bernstein, law professor and outstanding legal blogger at Volokh Conspiracy, reports that he and Sander expressed concerns that many "diversity" candidates at law schools "have no idea regarding the extent of the preferences they receive or how they might affect their chances of successfully completing law school and passing the bar exam."
The Civil Rights Commission is conducting hearings on a proposed and wayward American Bar Association policy that would in effect require law schools to use racial preferences in admission or risk the loss of their accreditation. Another pressure for more preferences leading to more weak admissions and more failure.
As we have already established time and time again, Richard Sander is not a credible source of information - Especially on the topic of race relations in the legal profession. This cat makes a living out of writing articles that paint black law students in the worst light possible.
Where to begin...
1) Sander's use of statistics are about as accurate as the cat who counted the first million man march.
2) Blacks only make up 1 to 2% of law students with high grades? This is a complete misuse of statistical data. Let's start with the fact that blacks only make up 7.5% of all law students in the United States.1
3) The term "High Grades" usually refers to 3.5 GPA and up, not 3.25 GPA, but we'll accept Sander's definition for argument's sake.
4) Generally speaking, Law schools stick to a strong "B" curve which places 15% of the class in the "A" range (top of the class), 15% in the "C" range (bottom of the class) and the remaining 70% in the middle.
5) Statistically speaking, if we were to distribute every black student evenly across the grading spectrum, from "C-" to "A+", following the "B" curve 15% of us should be in the top, 70% of us should be in the middle, and 15% of us should be in the bottom.
6) Again, statistically speaking, 15% of black students (and all students for that matter) should be in the top, or as Sanders refers to it, should have "High Grades." Last time I checked, 15% X 7.5% = 1.125%. In other words, to insinuate Black students only acount for a small amount of students with "High Grades," as Sanders does here, is a misuse of statistical data and a misrepresentation of the facts. We're supposed to be
1 to 2% of the students with "High Grades" you friggin genius. That's how the curve works.
7) Lastly, I don't think I even need to dig up much data beyond nalpdirectory.com in order to prove that Black people do not comprise 8% of ANY law firm (outside of Johnnie Cochran's or Willie Garry's firms of course). Is this dude serious? Black people only make up 4% of ALL lawyers, from Big Law to Public Interest. 4% Sanders. 1, 2, 3, 4. That's it.
8.) And while we're on the topic of 8...even if we did make up 8% of all lawyers hired by Big Law...Sanders is complaining about this? Are we to understand that 8% is too high? That still means we don't
make up 92% of all lawyers hired by Big Law. 92%
9) And (again, preaching to the choir) lest we forget, a substantial amount of white law students are hired by big law all the time irrespective of grades - aka family connections. Write an article about that.1.
Law School Admissions Council Data shows that 100,604 students applied to law school for the 2004-2005 term, of which, aprox. 48,000 were accepted; of the 48,000 approx. 3600 were black students.