Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: poochy95 on June 22, 2006, 03:01:52 PM

Title: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: poochy95 on June 22, 2006, 03:01:52 PM
This is my first post, and I found this article interesting:
 http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/leoblog/archives/060620/law_firms_and_the_downside_of.htm (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/leoblog/archives/060620/law_firms_and_the_downside_of.htm)

I have no intentions of inciting an online debate, but I could care less.  Actually, post some acerbic diatribes; online fights of all partisanships humor me.  I also want to pop my "type-of-tree-that-George-Washington-chopped-down," for an online post.  This article is from Tuesday's U.S. News Online.  Thank you for your time. Nowwwww fight.
Title: Re: 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 22, 2006, 03:07:20 PM

you know this'll start a fight  8)
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 22, 2006, 08:36:02 PM
This is my first post, and I found this article interesting:
 http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/leoblog/archives/060620/law_firms_and_the_downside_of.htm (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/leoblog/archives/060620/law_firms_and_the_downside_of.htm)

I have no intentions of inciting an online debate, but I could care less.  Actually, post some acerbic diatribes; online fights of all partisanships humor me.  I also want to pop my "type-of-tree-that-George-Washington-chopped-down," for an online post.  This article is from Tuesday's U.S. News Online.  Thank you for your time. Nowwwww fight.


u didn't have to delete though.   :-\
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mivida2k on June 23, 2006, 01:45:40 PM
(http://www.law.ucla.edu/images/123619822005richard_sander.jpg)


Sander has been working on questions of social and economic inequality for nearly all of his career.  He was born in Washington, D.C., but spent most of his childhood in small towns in northwest Indiana.  After earning a B.A. in Social Studies at Harvard, Sander in 1978 joined the federal Vista program and worked for a small neighborhood housing group on Chicago's south side.  While organizing tenant unions and building receiverships, he was deeply impressed with the work of the South Shore Bank, an experimental, community-development bank owned by churches and foundations.  Sander secured funding from three federal agencies and, with the Woodstock Institute, completed the first detailed study of the bank.  South Shore Bank was widely imitated as an instrument for community revitalization in other urban areas over the next two decades.

Sander attended graduate school at Northwestern University from 1983 to 1988, earning degrees in law (J.D., 1988) and economics (M.A. 1985, Ph.D., 1990). In an his law review comment and his dissertation, Sander sought to understand why fair housing laws had seemingly produced widespread integration in some American metropolitan areas, but very little integration in most.  During much of this period, Sander served on the board of the Rogers Park Tenants Committee, and worked on the election effort and subsequent transition team of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

In 1989, Sander joined the faculty of the UCLA School of Law. During this period, he continued his work on housing segregation, but also pursued two new interests:  the reasons behind the American legal profession’s explosive growth since the mid-1960s, and the structure and effects of law school admissions policies.  With Kris Knaplund, he published in 1995 the first comparative evaluation of academic support programs used in legal education.  After California voters approved Propostion 209 in 1996 – banning the use of race in various government programs, including admissions at the University of California – Sander successfully argued for the adoption of class-based preferences in the law school’s admissions, and published a study on the results of this experiment in 1997.

During the 1990s, Sander was involved in several Los Angeles civic initiatives.  He served as President of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California from 19984 to 1996; founded the Fair Housing Institute in 1996, and helped the City of Los Angeles design and implement in 1997 what was, at the time, the nation's most ambitious living wage law.  Sander also persuaded regional authorities to develop outreach programs that sharply increased local usage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, generating tens of millions of dollars annually for LA's poorest working families.

Sander was one of seven UCLA faculty members and staff who launched the Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, which created a distinct curriculum aimed at public interest students.  From 1998 to 2004, Sander helped to steer the "After the JD" study, the first national panel study of law school graduates.  In 1998-99, Sander and others at the School of Law launched the Empirical Research Group (ERG), an entity designed to help faculty members undertake ambitious empirical projects and introduce more quantitative and methodological sophistication into their policy-related work.

In 2004, Sander published a comprehensive study of affirmative action in American law schools, focusing particularly on the ways in which large preferences imposed unexpected but substantial costs on their intended beneficiaries.

Sander teaches courses in Property, Quantitative Methods, Urban Housing, and Policy Analysis.  He is married to astrophysicist Fiona Harrison, and has a son, Robert.  He lives in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

More information about Sander and his research is available at the faculty webpage: http://www.law.ucla.edu/sander/
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 23, 2006, 01:47:19 PM
(http://www.law.ucla.edu/images/123619822005richard_sander.jpg)


Sander has been working on questions of social and economic inequality for nearly all of his career.  He was born in Washington, D.C., but spent most of his childhood in small towns in northwest Indiana.  After earning a B.A. in Social Studies at Harvard, Sander in 1978 joined the federal Vista program and worked for a small neighborhood housing group on Chicago's south side.  While organizing tenant unions and building receiverships, he was deeply impressed with the work of the South Shore Bank, an experimental, community-development bank owned by churches and foundations.  Sander secured funding from three federal agencies and, with the Woodstock Institute, completed the first detailed study of the bank.  South Shore Bank was widely imitated as an instrument for community revitalization in other urban areas over the next two decades.

Sander attended graduate school at Northwestern University from 1983 to 1988, earning degrees in law (J.D., 1988) and economics (M.A. 1985, Ph.D., 1990). In an his law review comment and his dissertation, Sander sought to understand why fair housing laws had seemingly produced widespread integration in some American metropolitan areas, but very little integration in most.  During much of this period, Sander served on the board of the Rogers Park Tenants Committee, and worked on the election effort and subsequent transition team of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

In 1989, Sander joined the faculty of the UCLA School of Law. During this period, he continued his work on housing segregation, but also pursued two new interests:  the reasons behind the American legal profession’s explosive growth since the mid-1960s, and the structure and effects of law school admissions policies.  With Kris Knaplund, he published in 1995 the first comparative evaluation of academic support programs used in legal education.  After California voters approved Propostion 209 in 1996 – banning the use of race in various government programs, including admissions at the University of California – Sander successfully argued for the adoption of class-based preferences in the law school’s admissions, and published a study on the results of this experiment in 1997.

During the 1990s, Sander was involved in several Los Angeles civic initiatives.  He served as President of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California from 19984 to 1996; founded the Fair Housing Institute in 1996, and helped the City of Los Angeles design and implement in 1997 what was, at the time, the nation's most ambitious living wage law.  Sander also persuaded regional authorities to develop outreach programs that sharply increased local usage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, generating tens of millions of dollars annually for LA's poorest working families.

Sander was one of seven UCLA faculty members and staff who launched the Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, which created a distinct curriculum aimed at public interest students.  From 1998 to 2004, Sander helped to steer the "After the JD" study, the first national panel study of law school graduates.  In 1998-99, Sander and others at the School of Law launched the Empirical Research Group (ERG), an entity designed to help faculty members undertake ambitious empirical projects and introduce more quantitative and methodological sophistication into their policy-related work.

In 2004, Sander published a comprehensive study of affirmative action in American law schools, focusing particularly on the ways in which large preferences imposed unexpected but substantial costs on their intended beneficiaries.

Sander teaches courses in Property, Quantitative Methods, Urban Housing, and Policy Analysis.  He is married to astrophysicist Fiona Harrison, and has a son, Robert.  He lives in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

More information about Sander and his research is available at the faculty webpage: http://www.law.ucla.edu/sander/


well done- I read his crappy bio b4.  cant stand him
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mivida2k on June 23, 2006, 04:30:14 PM
Well I plan to interview him for my thesis.  Let ya know how that goes.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 23, 2006, 04:30:46 PM
Well I plan to interview him for my thesis.  Let ya know how that goes.

REALLY??  word i would love to be a fly on that wall!
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 05:45:55 PM
I don't know why I am deciding to take this flame seriously, but here are a few initial thoughts on Sander's new study.  (It's hard to make deeper arguments without reading the article, which isn't released yet.)

1. Where does Sander get the idea that LS grades are the best predictor -- or even a single very good predictor -- of performance as an attorney?  While I'm sure this is possible, I haven't ever read a study that suggests that grades alone account for law firm performance, and I think a lot of the things that make a good firm lawyer (networking, client relations, negotiation skills, relationships with superiors, grooming and etiquette), etc. have nothing to do with getting good grades.  (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that everyone who graduates in the top 2/3 or so of an elite LS class has the minimum requisite writing skills and legal know-how to push paper around correctly.)

2. How does he establish the link between grades and/or poor performance as attorneys and black attorneys' departures from the firms?  I can think of myriad alternate explanations (hypothetical) for leaving, e.g.:

a. Firms are inhospitable and racist places: there is an old boy's network in place that makes it hard to get good assignments, etc., and firm culture pretty much sucks for anyone who is not white and male (NOTE for Breadboy: this can be a matter of perception and still have an impact on black attorneys' feelings about their employment at the firm);

b. Due to racial and cultural biases, black attorneys receieve worse performance reviews/raises or are promoted to partnership later than white and other attorneys;

c. Due to racial and cultural biases, white attorneys are routinely rewarded for mediocre performance and  have little incentive to leave;

d. Black attorneys leave firms earlier or more often to become professors or take other desirable positions (perhaps even due partly to affirmative action in the academic and other employment markets);

e. Black attorneys leave to set out in solo practice more often than attorneys of other races for some reason;

f. Black attorneys leave to join public interest organizations more often than attorneys of other races.

3. Does Sander discuss the grades of white attorneys who leave the firms (and are they low?) and black attorneys who stay (are they high)?  Are the experiences of black attorneys with good grades substantially different from those with low grades?  Are the experiences of white attorneys with low grades similar to those of black attorneys with low grades?

4. If grades are really a factor in terms of people's making it up the law-firm track, bonuses, etc., are they a factor because of the performance and skills of the attorneys or because people who are likely to get good grades (good looking people, tall people, thin people, persistent people, people who know how to kiss ass, etc., etc.) the same people who are likely to receive positive affirmation -- not based on merit -- in the firm?

These are just my first-blush thoughts.  I'm sure there are other things that would really drive me crazy about this article if I could read it!

EDIT to add one more issue:

Sander's whole thing is about the supposed mismatch of black students to law schools where their "entry credentials" are lower than the average white student's "entry credentials."  His proposed remedy is to send black students to lower-ranked schools where their "credentials" are more mainstream, which he thinks will allow them to get better law school grades.  (I have written elsewhere about what bunk I think this is.)  Is he suggesting in this article that firms would do better to recruit students from these lower-ranked schools with better grades?  Otherwise, what is the reward to black students for choosing to go to lower-ranked school?  And who on earth thinks that Skadden and Cravath are or ever will be knocking the doors down at Seton Hall and Rutgers-Camden.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: shaz on June 23, 2006, 06:43:28 PM
(Sander himself, by the way, has a half-black son and is no conservative.)

LMFAO!!!





Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 06:44:36 PM
(Sander himself, by the way, has a half-black son and is no conservative.)

LMFAO!!!

"I have black friends!  I even made it with a black lady once!"  :D
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 23, 2006, 06:52:51 PM
LOL.  will def have to respond to this after I come back from my "outing"- hehe Miss P, wish me luck! :-*
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: shaz on June 23, 2006, 06:54:48 PM
how many slave masters have 'half-black sons?'

didn't strom thurmond have a half-black daughter?  

i bet there have been quite a few klan members that have sired half-black children. (just because you raped the mother, doesn't mean you're not the father.)  
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 23, 2006, 06:58:48 PM
LOL.  will def have to respond to this after I come back from my "outing"- hehe Miss P, wish me luck! :-*

You got it, my friend! ;)


New person!  damn I gotta get ready instead of procrastinating on here  Loook @ the time- haha i'm gonna b late.  :-\  :D

how many slave masters have 'half-black sons?'

didn't strom thurmond have a half-black daughter?  

i bet there have been quite a few klan members that have sired half-black children. (just because you raped the mother, doesn't mean you're not the father.)  

Dang, you kinda came a little hard on that one, dont u think?  I feel u tho.  Alright lemme get out of here.  BTW- the OP delted his account   
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: shaz on June 23, 2006, 07:01:00 PM
i thought my comment was well measured.  just wait until i get into a court room. 
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 07:08:41 PM
i thought my comment was well measured.  just wait until i get into a court room. 

I didn't think it was too harsh.  People need to realize that what a man does with his male private part has very little to do with what he thinks and does in the world at large.  The man has made narrowly construing questions so that they make black people look bad his mission in life.  I think that's racist, and I really don't say that lightly.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 23, 2006, 08:39:12 PM
I don't know why I am deciding to take this flame seriously, but here are a few initial thoughts on Sander's new study.  (It's hard to make deeper arguments without reading the article, which isn't released yet.)

1. Where does Sander get the idea that LS grades are the best predictor -- or even a single very good predictor -- of performance as an attorney?  While I'm sure this is possible, I haven't ever read a study that suggests that grades alone account for law firm performance, and I think a lot of the things that make a good firm lawyer (networking, client relations, negotiation skills, relationships with superiors, grooming and etiquette), etc. have nothing to do with getting good grades.  (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that everyone who graduates in the top 2/3 or so of an elite LS class has the minimum requisite writing skills and legal know-how to push paper around correctly.)


I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 08:43:13 PM
I don't know why I am deciding to take this flame seriously, but here are a few initial thoughts on Sander's new study.  (It's hard to make deeper arguments without reading the article, which isn't released yet.)

1. Where does Sander get the idea that LS grades are the best predictor -- or even a single very good predictor -- of performance as an attorney?  While I'm sure this is possible, I haven't ever read a study that suggests that grades alone account for law firm performance, and I think a lot of the things that make a good firm lawyer (networking, client relations, negotiation skills, relationships with superiors, grooming and etiquette), etc. have nothing to do with getting good grades.  (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that everyone who graduates in the top 2/3 or so of an elite LS class has the minimum requisite writing skills and legal know-how to push paper around correctly.)


I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.

It seems quite likely that law firms use grades as an index of certain qualities (dependability, timeliness, ability to prioritize/juggle responsibilities, etc.) that make good employees.  I would be interested, however, in knowing whether those with lower grades are actually less developed in these areas.  We are talking about people who scored just below the middle of the curve at T14 law schools.  I assume they are all generally functional people.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 08:51:59 PM
I assume they are all generally functional people.

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz: We're all generally functional people

LOL.  I meant that these baseline, "good worker" qualities -- the ones that probably have the most to do with grades --- are about their general functioning.  The other things -- their creativity, insight, client relationships, networking ability, communication skills, etc. -- that make them brilliant lawyers are less easily captured by grades.  I would assume.  Remember, my comments were very speculative, and I am open to hearing more ideas and/or evidence about the relationship between LS grades and performance at law firms.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 08:56:12 PM
i thought my comment was well measured.  just wait until i get into a court room. 

I didn't think it was too harsh.  People need to realize that what a man does with his male private part has very little to do with what he thinks and does in the world at large.  The man has made narrowly construing questions so that they make black people look bad his mission in life.  I think that's racist, and I really don't say that lightly.

I think his comments are as silly as those calling black republicans "uncle toms." The very idea that you’ve jumped to racism because you don't agree with his policy preferences and, in your view, "the man has made narrowly construing questions so that they make black people look bad his mission in life,” says something about your ability to understand the ideas of people you disagree with. “Fascist,” “racist,” “nazi,” and “bigot,” all have definite means. Stop using them to bludgeon others with the liberal equivalent of “evil.”


What does this tirade say about your "ability to understand the ideas of people you disagree with," Breadboy?  I am always respectful of you and I try to engage you in rational debate when we meet up, so I really don't know what you are talking about.

The notion that Sander is not racist because he sired a black child is ridiculous.  I was mostly responding to Shaz's explication of how stupid that is. 

It may have been more politic for me to say that I have been following Sander's work for a long time, and I find his studies so flawed and convoluted that my only explanation is that he has determined their outcome -- that affirmative action is unacceptable -- before really giving a hard look at the evidence.  Either that, or he's not very smart.  I would guess it's more the former.  I think that makes him guilty of having an anti-black bias.  Perhaps you disagree.  We can discuss that, but only if you drop the hysteria.

Before tonight, I have never called anyone (or their work) racist, fascist, evil, or Nazi on the boards.  Don't tell me to "stop" doing something I have never done.  I reserve this term for people and behaviors that I think are really consciously working to advance or perpetuate systemic racial inequality, and Sander is one of the few people I would ever use it on.  Thanks.

p.s. I didn't call him racist; I called his work racist. I think there's a difference.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 23, 2006, 08:58:24 PM
I don't know why I am deciding to take this flame seriously, but here are a few initial thoughts on Sander's new study.  (It's hard to make deeper arguments without reading the article, which isn't released yet.)

1. Where does Sander get the idea that LS grades are the best predictor -- or even a single very good predictor -- of performance as an attorney?  While I'm sure this is possible, I haven't ever read a study that suggests that grades alone account for law firm performance, and I think a lot of the things that make a good firm lawyer (networking, client relations, negotiation skills, relationships with superiors, grooming and etiquette), etc. have nothing to do with getting good grades.  (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that everyone who graduates in the top 2/3 or so of an elite LS class has the minimum requisite writing skills and legal know-how to push paper around correctly.)


I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.

It seems quite likely that law firms use grades as an index of certain qualities (dependability, timeliness, ability to prioritize/juggle responsibilities, etc.) that make good employees.  I would be interested, however, in knowing whether those with lower grades are actually less developed in these areas.  We are talking about people who scored just below the middle of the curve at T14 law schools.  I assume they are all generally functional people.

I think the idea is that there probably ARE students who, despite not doing as well, would perform just as well, if not better, than the students at the top of the class. But there's no easy way for firms to tell those students from the others who didn't perform well because they lack teh qualities firms are looking for.  Firms are generally very risk adverse in their hiring.  Between the fall recruiting process and of coruse the second year summer, firms spend a huge amount of money on recruiting, and they are just not willing to take any chances.

Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 09:05:21 PM
I don't know why I am deciding to take this flame seriously, but here are a few initial thoughts on Sander's new study.  (It's hard to make deeper arguments without reading the article, which isn't released yet.)

1. Where does Sander get the idea that LS grades are the best predictor -- or even a single very good predictor -- of performance as an attorney?  While I'm sure this is possible, I haven't ever read a study that suggests that grades alone account for law firm performance, and I think a lot of the things that make a good firm lawyer (networking, client relations, negotiation skills, relationships with superiors, grooming and etiquette), etc. have nothing to do with getting good grades.  (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that everyone who graduates in the top 2/3 or so of an elite LS class has the minimum requisite writing skills and legal know-how to push paper around correctly.)


I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.

It seems quite likely that law firms use grades as an index of certain qualities (dependability, timeliness, ability to prioritize/juggle responsibilities, etc.) that make good employees.  I would be interested, however, in knowing whether those with lower grades are actually less developed in these areas.  We are talking about people who scored just below the middle of the curve at T14 law schools.  I assume they are all generally functional people.

I think the idea is that there probably ARE students who, despite not doing as well, would perform just as well, if not better, than the students at the top of the class. But there's no easy way for firms to tell those students from the others who didn't perform well because they lack teh qualities firms are looking for.  Firms are generally very risk adverse in their hiring.  Between the fall recruiting process and of coruse the second year summer, firms spend a huge amount of money on recruiting, and they are just not willing to take any chances.

I think we're agreeing with each other.  Firms have chosen to relax their GPA standards for black attorneys.  Sander thinks this is irrational because they are hiring people who will be worse attorneys than applicants with higher grades.  His evidence for that is that black attorneys tend to leave the firms earlier than attorneys of other races.  My questions are (1) whether, instead, firms are making a rational calculation that it's worth looking more deeply (beyond grades) into the qualifications of black applicants in order to have a diverse staff (whether you think this is a valid goal is another question) and (2) whether the black attorneys are leaving for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills or performance.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: queencruella on June 23, 2006, 09:11:02 PM
I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.

With most biglaw jobs, the turnover is very high in the early years. Setting a grade cutoff is the easiest and cheapest way to weed out applicants, even if it doesn't necessarily allow in all the people who would be successful. At the end of the day, law firms probably have some sort of formula of expected turnover and as long as they are meeting their numbers, they are not going to change their strategy. It's still cheaper to have a lot of lower-paid first- and second-year associates than having a lot of fifth- and sixth-year associates who are really in it to become partners. I think lowering grade standards for African American applicants is really more an indication that the standards were rather arbitrary to start with and had no real relation to someone's work ethic and ability to succeed once they've reached the top schools. I tend to agree with the notion that the biglaw lifestyle is just not as amenable to lawyers wno are not white males.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 23, 2006, 09:12:46 PM
I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.

With most biglaw jobs, the turnover is very high in the early years. Setting a grade cutoff is the easiest and cheapest way to weed out applicants, even if it doesn't necessarily allow in all the people who would be successful. At the end of the day, law firms probably have some sort of formula of expected turnover and as long as they are meeting their numbers, they are not going to change their strategy. It's still cheaper to have a lot of lower-paid first- and second-year associates than having a lot of fifth- and sixth-year associates who are really in it to become partners. I think lowering grade standards for African American applicants is really more an indication that the standards were rather arbitrary to start with and had no real relation to someone's work ethic and ability to succeed once they've reached the top schools. I tend to agree with the notion that the biglaw lifestyle is just not as amenable to lawyers wno are not white males.

This is a much more concise and articulate way to put what I was trying say.  Thanks, queencruella.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Lurking Third Year on June 23, 2006, 09:27:12 PM
I don't know why I am deciding to take this flame seriously, but here are a few initial thoughts on Sander's new study.  (It's hard to make deeper arguments without reading the article, which isn't released yet.)

1. Where does Sander get the idea that LS grades are the best predictor -- or even a single very good predictor -- of performance as an attorney?  While I'm sure this is possible, I haven't ever read a study that suggests that grades alone account for law firm performance, and I think a lot of the things that make a good firm lawyer (networking, client relations, negotiation skills, relationships with superiors, grooming and etiquette), etc. have nothing to do with getting good grades.  (For the sake of this argument, I'm assuming that everyone who graduates in the top 2/3 or so of an elite LS class has the minimum requisite writing skills and legal know-how to push paper around correctly.)


I don't think anyone would seriously argue that grades are the sole predictor of law firm performance.  But, similarly, there's no question that large firm place huge emphasis on grades, and so they must have some predictive power.  Unless big firms are acting entirely irrationally, which is possible, but it seems unlikely.

It seems quite likely that law firms use grades as an index of certain qualities (dependability, timeliness, ability to prioritize/juggle responsibilities, etc.) that make good employees.  I would be interested, however, in knowing whether those with lower grades are actually less developed in these areas.  We are talking about people who scored just below the middle of the curve at T14 law schools.  I assume they are all generally functional people.

I think the idea is that there probably ARE students who, despite not doing as well, would perform just as well, if not better, than the students at the top of the class. But there's no easy way for firms to tell those students from the others who didn't perform well because they lack teh qualities firms are looking for.  Firms are generally very risk adverse in their hiring.  Between the fall recruiting process and of coruse the second year summer, firms spend a huge amount of money on recruiting, and they are just not willing to take any chances.

I think we're agreeing with each other.  Firms have chosen to relax their GPA standards for black attorneys.  Sander thinks this is irrational because they are hiring people who will be worse attorneys than applicants with higher grades.  His evidence for that is that black attorneys tend to leave the firms earlier than attorneys of other races.  My questions are (1) whether, instead, firms are making a rational calculation that it's worth looking more deeply (beyond grades) into the qualifications of black applicants in order to have a diverse staff (whether you think this is a valid goal is another question) and (2) whether the black attorneys are leaving for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills or performance.

Yeah, I agree with a lot of this.  I didn't mean to imply that I disagreed with everything you wrote, or even that I agree wiht Sanders -- I just didn't agree with the way you put your first argument about grades.  I def. agree that grades are used to screen applicants out of necessity; there just doesn't seem to be a way, or at least not a cost effective way, to screen for attributes that big firms value.  But I would disagree that grades are arbitrary, or that they don't tend to indicate a good work ethic, intelligence, etc.

As to your first point, I think this 100% the case.  At the firm where I spent my second year summer, a group of summers (myself included) attended one of the diversity committee's meetings and they were quite open that this was their intention.

As to the second, sure, no doubt many black attorneys are leaving for reasons that have nothing to do with skills or performance.  Most attorneys leave big firms for reasons that have nothing to do skills or performance.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: shaz on June 23, 2006, 10:33:40 PM
i thought my comment was well measured.  just wait until i get into a court room. 

I didn't think it was too harsh.  People need to realize that what a man does with his male private part has very little to do with what he thinks and does in the world at large.  The man has made narrowly construing questions so that they make black people look bad his mission in life.  I think that's racist, and I really don't say that lightly.

I think his comments are as silly as those calling black republicans "uncle toms." The very idea that you’ve jumped to racism because you don't agree with his policy preferences and, in your view, "the man has made narrowly construing questions so that they make black people look bad his mission in life,” says something about your ability to understand the ideas of people you disagree with. “Fascist,” “racist,” “nazi,” and “bigot,” all have definite means. Stop using them to bludgeon others with the liberal equivalent of “evil.”


my comment, silly?  wha?  i was commenting on the fact that one's choice in breeding partner has nothing to do with one's political leanings.  this was made quite clear by my later comment-pointing out extreme cases.  if you recall, the original article intimated that having a 'half-black son'=liberal. 

btw, i am a black republican.  and, i can smell a bigot from a mile away. 
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: dbgirl on June 24, 2006, 02:35:15 AM
What does this tirade say about your "ability to understand the ideas of people you disagree with," Breadboy?  I am always respectful of you and I try to engage you in rational debate when we meet up, so I really don't know what you are talking about.

Up to this point I’d agree with you. You’re a open to the ideas of others (albeit ideas phrased in the nicest possible terms), and I congratulate you for that.

Quote

The notion that Sander is not racist because he sired a black child is ridiculous.  I was mostly responding to Shaz's explication of how stupid that is. 

One could theoretically be a white racist, marry a black woman, and have a child with her, but I’d say that’s a rare occurrence, and especially unrelated to this situation.

Quote
It may have been more politic for me to say that I have been following Sander's work for a long time

What’s a long time?

Quote
and I find his studies so flawed and convoluted that my only explanation is that he has determined their outcome -- that affirmative action is unacceptable -- before really giving a hard look at the evidence.  Either that, or he's not very smart.  I would guess it's more the former.  I think that makes him guilty of having an anti-black bias. 

This is where I disagree with you the most. Do you understand the seriousness of the charge you raise? My least favorite thing about dealing with smart and somewhat partisan is they tend to come up with dichotomies like this. You’ve just said that if someone predetermines the outcome of a study and finds affirmative action to be unacceptable he is guilty of having an anti-black bias. Flawed and convoluted studies are one thing, that we can disagree about, but leaping to a charge of racism/anti-black bias is in this case similar to calling someone a witch, a communist, or a nazi.

Quote
Before tonight, I have never called anyone (or their work) racist, fascist, evil, or Nazi on the boards.  Don't tell me to "stop" doing something I have never done.  I reserve this term for people and behaviors that I think are really consciously working to advance or perpetuate systemic racial inequality, and Sander is one of the few people I would ever use it on. 

I’ll take your word on this.

Quote
p.s. I didn't call him racist; I called his work racist. I think there's a difference.

You’ve also charged him with having an anti-black bias and, depending on just what you meant, that could qualify.


Miss P,
Getting into these "discussions" w/Bboy will only leave you aggravated and exhausted (although you have more patience than I).
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: dbgirl on June 24, 2006, 02:40:11 AM
Miss P,
Getting into these "discussions" w/Bboy will only leave you aggravated and exhausted (although you have more patience than I).

My little lost puppy strikes again  ;)

Just trying to protect P from wasting too much energy ...
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: shaz on June 24, 2006, 05:52:57 AM

my comment, silly?  wha?  i was commenting on the fact that one's choice in breeding partner has nothing to do with one's political leanings.  this was made quite clear by my later comment-pointing out extreme cases.  if you recall, the original article intimated that having a 'half-black son'=liberal. 

Quote
Here’s the original quote:
Some individual black associates "are entirely able to perform as well or better than white associates," Sander says. But even these associates may get inferior training and assignments if -- as seems likely -- the "merit gap [is] reinforced and unfairly extended through stereotyping generalizations" about racial groups. (Sander himself, by the way, has a half-black son and is no conservative.)

1.   It doesn’t say that he’s liberal, just that he isn’t conservative
2.   It doesn’t say that his son has something to do with his politics
3.   While you’re right that simply having a black child doesn’t make you a non-racist, I’d have to say that it is almost insurmountably mitigating in this case.



hehehe!  lol!  when i wrote my comment i knew you would reply w/ 1 & 2.  sure it doesn't SAY, but it sure as heck implies.  i believe this article was from a periodical w/ a typically non-lawyer/law student audience.  i believe i made the conclusions the author was leading toward.   
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 24, 2006, 06:42:43 AM
Oh my this thread really taken off.  FYI- the OP deleted his account.  He sent me a few PMs as to the reason why (beforehand). 

Basically felt stifled on here- DONT shoot the messenger, I'm just telling ya'll.   
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 24, 2006, 06:49:36 AM

Quote
This is where I disagree with you the most. Do you understand the seriousness of the charge you raise? My least favorite thing about dealing with smart and somewhat partisan is they tend to come up with dichotomies like this. You’ve just said that if someone predetermines the outcome of a study and finds affirmative action to be unacceptable he is guilty of having an anti-black bias. Flawed and convoluted studies are one thing, that we can disagree about, but leaping to a charge of racism/anti-black bias is in this case similar to calling someone a witch, a communist, or a nazi.

I never understood this.  Why do ppl take such issue with the word racist?  I'm not trying to be difficult- I genuinely don't understand.   If someone truly demonstrates some racial bias, doesn't that reasonably lend itself to accusations of racism? For instance, if someone called me a racist, I don't think I could be offended since the charge would be so ridiculous.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 24, 2006, 09:25:45 AM
What does this tirade say about your "ability to understand the ideas of people you disagree with," Breadboy?  I am always respectful of you and I try to engage you in rational debate when we meet up, so I really don't know what you are talking about.

Up to this point I’d agree with you. You’re a open to the ideas of others (albeit ideas phrased in the nicest possible terms), and I congratulate you for that.

Quote

The notion that Sander is not racist because he sired a black child is ridiculous.  I was mostly responding to Shaz's explication of how stupid that is. 

One could theoretically be a white racist, marry a black woman, and have a child with her, but I’d say that’s a rare occurrence, and especially unrelated to this situation.

Quote
It may have been more politic for me to say that I have been following Sander's work for a long time

What’s a long time?

Quote
and I find his studies so flawed and convoluted that my only explanation is that he has determined their outcome -- that affirmative action is unacceptable -- before really giving a hard look at the evidence.  Either that, or he's not very smart.  I would guess it's more the former.  I think that makes him guilty of having an anti-black bias. 

This is where I disagree with you the most. Do you understand the seriousness of the charge you raise? My least favorite thing about dealing with smart and somewhat partisan is they tend to come up with dichotomies like this. You’ve just said that if someone predetermines the outcome of a study and finds affirmative action to be unacceptable he is guilty of having an anti-black bias. Flawed and convoluted studies are one thing, that we can disagree about, but leaping to a charge of racism/anti-black bias is in this case similar to calling someone a witch, a communist, or a nazi.

Quote
Before tonight, I have never called anyone (or their work) racist, fascist, evil, or Nazi on the boards.  Don't tell me to "stop" doing something I have never done.  I reserve this term for people and behaviors that I think are really consciously working to advance or perpetuate systemic racial inequality, and Sander is one of the few people I would ever use it on. 

I’ll take your word on this.

Quote
p.s. I didn't call him racist; I called his work racist. I think there's a difference.

You’ve also charged him with having an anti-black bias and, depending on just what you meant, that could qualify.

I don't know why it matters, but I have had my eye on Sander since he was conducting his first "study" in the early 2000s.  I think affirmative action is an important subject.

I'm not really interested in discussing the rest of this with you.  Why not debate the issues instead of my tactics, rhetoric, or character.  (Strangely enough, this is what you always ask others to do, and exactly what you have asked of me in your initial post.)  I have explained why I think the studies are flawed and convoluted.  Am I wrong?  The question of whether I slandered Sander is a red herring; it has nothing to do with the study or his article.

Also, I'm sorry if you think that Sander will be offended by one carelessly worded post of a pre-law detractor on a discussion board.  My guess is that he couldn't care less, but there you go.  Prof. Sander, if you are reading this, I didn't mean it. 
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: dbgirl on June 24, 2006, 11:59:42 AM
Off topic: Miss P - the new tar is nice.
What a unique skin tone you have  ;)
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: shaz on June 24, 2006, 12:08:19 PM
Off topic: Miss P - the new tar is nice.
What a unique skin tone you have  ;)

i'd just like to say the same for finally's new tar.   ;D
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 24, 2006, 12:28:39 PM
Off topic: Miss P - the new tar is nice.
What a unique skin tone you have  ;)

I am half extraterrestrial, obviously.  And I was trying to obscure things enough that it would be unrecognizable, of course. :)

i'd just like to say the same for finally's new tar.   ;D

Well, yeah, I mean... dang!  That's one fine earthling!
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: cui bono? on June 24, 2006, 02:12:12 PM
Off topic: Miss P - the new tar is nice.
What a unique skin tone you have  ;)

i'd just like to say the same for finally's new tar.   ;D

lol!   :-*

Off topic: Miss P - the new tar is nice.
What a unique skin tone you have  ;)

I am half extraterrestrial, obviously.  And I was trying to obscure things enough that it would be unrecognizable, of course. :)

i'd just like to say the same for finally's new tar.   ;D

Well, yeah, I mean... dang!  That's one fine earthling!

again check's in the mail!! :D  man am I the source of all thread'napping??   :D
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 24, 2006, 11:26:57 PM
I'm not really interested in discussing the rest of this with you.  Why not debate the issues instead of my tactics, rhetoric, or character.  (Strangely enough, this is what you always ask others to do, and exactly what you have asked of me in your initial post.) 
I asked this of you, because discussions where racism has been charged tend to go in one direction.

And so do discussions where "liberal namecalling" has been charged.  Can we move on?

Seriously, I take it back.  Let me stick to my original theses that this study sounds pretty weak to me and that reducing affirmative action will harm African Americans.  Let's talk about these things.  Maybe even just the former.

Quote from: Breadboy
Quote from: Miss P
I have explained why I think the studies are flawed and convoluted.  Am I wrong?
Yes.
Who what when where why how?  Do you have an argument here?

Quote from: Breadboy
One day, you'll be all grown up and your opinions, writings, and judgments of the character of others may well be taken very seriously.

I'm quite grown, thank you.  But I do appreciate the notion that someone will take me seriously some day.  If the past thirty or so years are any indication, though, I think you're sadly mistaken.  :D
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: dbgirl on June 24, 2006, 11:33:18 PM
I'm not really interested in discussing the rest of this with you.  Why not debate the issues instead of my tactics, rhetoric, or character.  (Strangely enough, this is what you always ask others to do, and exactly what you have asked of me in your initial post.) 
I asked this of you, because discussions where racism has been charged tend to go in one direction.

And so do discussions where "liberal namecalling" has been charged.  Can we move on?

Seriously, I take it back.  Let me stick to my original theses that this study sounds pretty weak to me and that I think that reducing affirmative action will harm African Americans.  Let's talk about these things.  Maybe even just the former.

Quote from: Breadboy
Quote from: Miss P
I have explained why I think the studies are flawed and convoluted.  Am I wrong?
Yes.
Who what when where why how?  Do you have an argument here?

Quote from: Breadboy
One day, you'll be all grown up and your opinions, writings, and judgments of the character of others may well be taken very seriously.

I'm quite grown, thank you.  But I do appreciate the notion that someone will take me seriously some day.  If the past thirty or so years are any indication, though, I think you're sadly mistaken.  :D

I take you seriously Miss P. You actually know what you're talking about most of the time ... as opposed to making up hypotheticals about things as you imagine them to be.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 24, 2006, 11:39:10 PM
I take you seriously Miss P. You actually know what you're talking about most of the time ... as opposed to making up hypotheticals about things as you imagine them to be.

Thanks, db. And likewise.   :)
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: nicknaylor on June 26, 2006, 05:13:22 PM
I was the original poster of this whole discussion thing.  As I have not yet had the time to peruse through Sanders’ full article (68 pages), I will restrain myself from adding any comments, for they will lack any form of cogency (plus my mom just called me and told me that I am mentally retarded).  BUT I want everyone to know that many of his articles, critiques of his articles (already including the firm-related one), and his rebuttals to critics can be found here:

http://www.law.ucla.edu/sander/ (http://www.law.ucla.edu/sander/)

Since his most significant articles range between 30-110 pages, I am expecting everyone on here to read them in full, along with any supplemental material, and then summarize it for me in exactly 16 pages (and then explain to me what my emotional reaction should be, or any other thoughts therein), for I am too lazy to read or think myself………plus you will help me circumvent staring at a bright LCD screen for hours, thus preventing the degeneration of my retinas.  Your work will pay off for me in the long run.  Trust me.  Thank you.  (I prefer formatting according to the Chicago Manual of Style: 15th Edition)  The winner of the best 16 page summary will win my daily planner, which will need to be replaced during the first week of August 2006 (academic format).
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on June 26, 2006, 05:15:58 PM
I was the original poster of this whole discussion thing.  As I have not yet had the time to peruse through Sanders’ full article (68 pages), I will restrain myself from adding any comments, for they will lack any form of cogency (plus my mom just called me and told me that I am mentally retarded).  BUT I want everyone to know that many of his articles, critiques of his articles (already including the firm-related one), and his rebuttals to critics can be found here:

http://www.law.ucla.edu/sander/ (http://www.law.ucla.edu/sander/)

Since his most significant articles range between 30-110 pages, I am expecting everyone on here to read them in full, along with any supplemental material, and then summarize it for me in exactly 16 pages (and then explain to me what my emotional reaction should be, or any other thoughts therein), for I am too lazy to read or think myself………plus you will help me circumvent staring at a bright LCD screen for hours, thus preventing the degeneration of my retinas.  Your work will pay off for me in the long run.  Trust me.  Thank you.  (I prefer formatting according to the Chicago Manual of Style: 15th Edition)  The winner of the best 16 page summary will win my daily planner, which will need to be replaced during the first week of August 2006 (academic format).


Heh-heh.  I am also partial to the Chicago 15th ed. so I'll do my best.

Thanks for linking to the article.  I've been waiting to read it and I'm glad it's public.  I hope to return with less speculative comments soon. 
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: nicknaylor on June 26, 2006, 05:43:13 PM
Dear Ms. P,
You are welcome.  Although I do enjoy reading speculative comments online, and in fact encourage them,  just remember that your 16 page paper must not contain any speculation.  Only facts.  Objective Facts.  Concrete Objective Facts.  And then of course your own opinions and any other further subjective speculations.  I wish I could print that article out, but I went over my print quota at school because I printed out 150 fliers of my roommate making out with this one skeezo he met at a bar.  She had about 37 years and 250 lbs to her name.  If only the summer print quotas were larger, I would have printed out many more fliers.

Sincerely,

nicknaylor
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: thorc954 on July 05, 2006, 09:01:15 PM
Okay, I read the sanders article. I think the important point is that at some time AA has to stop playing a role. It is used in undergrad, law school, and in love firms. If the person isnt as sucessful in undergrad and law school, when do you say enough is enough? when do you stop using race and racism as a reason for the person's inadequacies?  I strongly believe that minorities are given unequal grade school educations and in many cases dont have the access to the sat prep material. okay, fine. consider race/socio-economic condition in undergrad selection. Okay, after that, undergrad teaches effective writing skills. Maybe consider lower test scores on the lsat. After you have gone to law school you have had the opportunity to catch up. You either do terribly or you succeed. AA cant continue to play an influence in an individual's life indefinitely. Eventually, you must consider merit or undeserving people are hired outof quotas.  Granted, sandars research included some invalid and unsubstantiated points, but there was indeed some merit to his comments. 

oh, and i woulda used my print credits for the same thing.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: queencruella on July 05, 2006, 09:28:51 PM
I don't think that this is a case where AA gives "undeserving" candidates a chance. Presumably jobs at top firms go interview people from top law schools, and I think that realistically there isn't going to be a huge difference between the people who finish in the top 10% and the people who finish slightly lower at the same school. Setting grade/rank requirements is just a quick and easy way to weed out applicants, and anyone who has worked for a while knows that there's more to doing a job well than just knowing the material. To be "undeserving" I think that the people hired under the AA policy would need to have done terribly in law school, which does not seem to be the case.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Mr. Pink on November 29, 2006, 07:31:22 PM
tag
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Elephant Lee on November 29, 2006, 08:06:57 PM
I think the important point is that at some time AA has to stop playing a role. It is used in undergrad, law school, and in love firms.
Following the Sander trail here, and found this gem. Freudian slip! Which one of these posters was he lovin' on?
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mae8 on December 01, 2006, 12:15:00 AM
I don't think that this is a case where AA gives "undeserving" candidates a chance. Presumably jobs at top firms go interview people from top law schools, and I think that realistically there isn't going to be a huge difference between the people who finish in the top 10% and the people who finish slightly lower at the same school. Setting grade/rank requirements is just a quick and easy way to weed out applicants, and anyone who has worked for a while knows that there's more to doing a job well than just knowing the material. To be "undeserving" I think that the people hired under the AA policy would need to have done terribly in law school, which does not seem to be the case.

i have no idea why im getting into these conversations again but.... per the essentially undisputed data in the study the median black associate at large firms was 18th percentile. so if we're going to discuss this lets not waste our time talking about the qualification difference between top 10% and those "slightly lower." is 18th percentile undeserving? to me the sander conclusions all flow together quite well. even if the "old boys network" and any racism in firms was eliminated i dont see how people wouldnt expect disparate results based on huge differences in grades.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on December 01, 2006, 12:25:09 AM
I don't think that this is a case where AA gives "undeserving" candidates a chance. Presumably jobs at top firms go interview people from top law schools, and I think that realistically there isn't going to be a huge difference between the people who finish in the top 10% and the people who finish slightly lower at the same school. Setting grade/rank requirements is just a quick and easy way to weed out applicants, and anyone who has worked for a while knows that there's more to doing a job well than just knowing the material. To be "undeserving" I think that the people hired under the AA policy would need to have done terribly in law school, which does not seem to be the case.

i have no idea why im getting into these conversations again but.... per the essentially undisputed data in the study the median black associate at large firms was 18th percentile. so if we're going to discuss this lets not waste our time talking about the qualification difference between top 10% and those "slightly lower." is 18th percentile undeserving? to me the sander conclusions all flow together quite well. even if the "old boys network" and any racism in firms was eliminated i dont see how people wouldnt expect disparate results based on huge differences in grades.

I'm not sure why I'm getting into this again either.  Could you please tell me a bit more about why you think grades would be such a good index of the kinds of things that make a good young associate?  And if they are, to the exclusion of other factors (such as community service, leadership positions in student organizations, prestigious internships, quality of professors, bar prep course, etc.), then what would you think about law firms' expanding recruiting into lower-ranked law schools and HBCUs, but always focusing on the same top-tenth or top-third students? 

Also, have you seen any studies of how black attorneys with good GPAs/class ranks or white attorneys with low GPAs/class ranks fare relative to the black attorneys with low GPAs/class ranks?  If so, do they bear out your conclusion that there is a big gap between the 18th percentile HYS student and the 90th percentile HYS student, regardless of race?
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mae8 on December 01, 2006, 12:54:03 AM
I don't think that this is a case where AA gives "undeserving" candidates a chance. Presumably jobs at top firms go interview people from top law schools, and I think that realistically there isn't going to be a huge difference between the people who finish in the top 10% and the people who finish slightly lower at the same school. Setting grade/rank requirements is just a quick and easy way to weed out applicants, and anyone who has worked for a while knows that there's more to doing a job well than just knowing the material. To be "undeserving" I think that the people hired under the AA policy would need to have done terribly in law school, which does not seem to be the case.

i have no idea why im getting into these conversations again but.... per the essentially undisputed data in the study the median black associate at large firms was 18th percentile. so if we're going to discuss this lets not waste our time talking about the qualification difference between top 10% and those "slightly lower." is 18th percentile undeserving? to me the sander conclusions all flow together quite well. even if the "old boys network" and any racism in firms was eliminated i dont see how people wouldnt expect disparate results based on huge differences in grades.

I'm not sure why I'm getting into this again either.  Could you please tell me a bit more about why you think grades would be such a good index of the kinds of things that make a good young associate?  And if they are, to the exclusion of other factors (such as community service, leadership positions in student organizations, prestigious internships, quality of professors, bar prep course, etc.), then what would you think about law firms' expanding recruiting into lower-ranked law schools and HBCUs, but always focusing on the same top-tenth or top-third students? 

Also, have you seen any studies of how black attorneys with good GPAs/class ranks or white attorneys with low GPAs/class ranks fare relative to the black attorneys with low GPAs/class ranks?  If so, do they bear out your conclusion that there is a big gap between the 18th percentile HYS student and the 90th percentile HYS student, regardless of race?

ask your profs what they think is the difference between a great exam and a bad one. maybe they'll say it's random or maybe they'll say it demonstrates substantive differences ranging from ability to write effectively, work under pressure, or perform legal analysis. maybe it just tests the ability to jump through hoops and judge what an irrational prof wants, not unlike being able to judge what an irrational partner wants.

personally i do think grades are much more important in predicting success of a young associate than community service or leadership positions in student orgs.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on December 01, 2006, 07:46:47 AM
You're in law school, right?  Most of our professors here are humble enough to tell us that law school exams test a certain narrow range of skills, not ability to understand the law or function as a lawyer.  Indeed, they constantly say stupid things like "Grades are not very important" (Yalies!).  I'm sure this is, in part, a self-interested and cynical statement intended to shut down requests for grade changes and such, but I think there's plenty of truth to it.

On the other hand, sure, I can imagine that issue-spotting is a key skill for attorneys (though not for associates in their first several years of practice at biglaw firms, alas, since document review and such really don't require this kind of insight).  But unless you have one professor for more than one semester, in a typical exam-based class, you are not able to adjust to learn how to "jump through hoops and judge what an [s/he] wants" on the exam.  In the firm, one has much more time to learn, through both trial and error and (more important) a network of knowledgeable peers and superiors, how to please those senior associates and partners.  Being able to listen to social cues, accept criticism, and adjust one's behavior accordingly are all very different qualities than those that lead to superior performance on an issue-spotter.  And if you've ever read model student answers to law school exams, you know that the writing quality falls far short of that one might seek in a legal memo.

I'm not saying grades don't tell you something.  I'm saying that they may not tell you all of the things you need to know about someone before deciding to ask her to join your firm.  Again, I haven't seen any good research on this, and I'm always open to evidence that I am wrong.  I think looking at the data for other associates with poor grades and for black associates with good grades might help us sort this out.

Also, I'd be interested in your thoughts on whether top students at lower-ranked law schools might be better recruiting candidates for firms, since you seem to believe that the emphasis on GPA/class rank makes sense.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: redemption on December 01, 2006, 08:55:32 AM
i have no idea why im getting into these conversations again but....

I do.  :)
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: redemption on December 01, 2006, 08:59:23 AM
1. There is a much much smaller gap in performance when the exam is take-home [fact].

2. These take-home exams are more complex than 3-hr proctored exams [fact].

3. These take-home exams more closely approximate real lawyering [fact].
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mae8 on December 01, 2006, 10:57:32 AM
You're in law school, right?  Most of our professors here are humble enough to tell us that law school exams test a certain narrow range of skills, not ability to understand the law or function as a lawyer.  Indeed, they constantly say stupid things like "Grades are not very important" (Yalies!).  I'm sure this is, in part, a self-interested and cynical statement intended to shut down requests for grade changes and such, but I think there's plenty of truth to it.

On the other hand, sure, I can imagine that issue-spotting is a key skill for attorneys (though not for associates in their first several years of practice at biglaw firms, alas, since document review and such really don't require this kind of insight).  But unless you have one professor for more than one semester, in a typical exam-based class, you are not able to adjust to learn how to "jump through hoops and judge what an [s/he] wants" on the exam.  In the firm, one has much more time to learn, through both trial and error and (more important) a network of knowledgeable peers and superiors how to please those senior associates and partners.  Being able to listen to social cues, accept criticism, and adjust one's behavior accordingly are all very different qualities than those that lead to superior performance on an issue-spotter.  And if you've ever read model student answers to law school exams, you know that the writing quality falls far short of that one might seek in a legal memo.

I'm not saying grades don't tell you something.  I'm saying that they may not tell you all of the things you need to know about someone before deciding to ask her to join your firm.  Again, I haven't seen any good research on this, and I'm always open to evidence that I am wrong.  I think looking at the data for other associates with poor grades and for black associates with good grades might help us sort this out.

Also, I'd be interested in your thoughts on whether top students at lower-ranked law schools might be better recruiting candidates for firms, since you seem to believe that the emphasis on GPA/class rank makes sense.

our profs say the much the same things. nevermind that they would never have gotten their jobs if they were not top 10% but whatever. one of the profs here likes to tell a story about her worst exam where she gave a great analysis of a tertiary issue but completely missed the largest and clearly most critical issue. it was only one class so obviously she was able to make up for it in other classes but i would think if someone repeatedly fails to recognize the critical legal issue in a fact pattern they are missing some essential skills. maybe in a couple weeks we'll discover i dont have those skills, who knows.

about the "hoops" i think your response is well reasoned but at the same time everything i've heard is that it is important to learn exactly what a prof looks for in an exam, political beliefs, views on the legitimacy of specific theories, etc. these would seem to be important "skills." obviously the writing quality of a three hour exam is never going to approach that of a good memo but i would still think you'd see pretty significant differences between what a great writer puts together in that time and an average one.

i dont think we're in total disagreement by any means. i dont think grades are everything but i just know personally the classes where i expect the most trouble are ones where im less confident and less well versed in the materials. because of that im less likely to spot all the intricacies of the issues and write effectively about them. i dont think this is an illusory deficit.

just going off of the behavior of firms it would seem a top student at a ttt can compete with students from top schools. if a top ttt student can overcome the huge hiring biases of firms filled with t14 attorneys that seems evidence in itself that grades are predictive of some important measures. the top student at nyls is competing for many of the same jobs t6 students are, assuming of course they didnt transfer to cls which they could have done because schools also put this kind of importance on grades. schools accept transfers based almost entirely on grades, either this is irrational behavior on their part because grades dont measure memo writing skills or whatnot or they know from their experience that these people are more likely to do well at any school and become successful alums. obviously there is an inherent unfairness in the system that much like the lsat, magnifies exceedingly small differences like top 5% v. top 15% but if the discussion is about large gaps i think we're talking about substantive differences.

although he hasnt studied it extensively sanford posits that since smaller firms are less likely to have big grade gaps between white and black associates, minorities actually report similar satisfaction, partner contact etc. more study on this would be helful because we could better distill the effects of racism within firms from grade-ism.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: queencruella on December 01, 2006, 12:59:34 PM
Again, hiring practices are primarily economically motivated. Firms seek to hire minorities because clients are now demanding that they work with diverse legal teams instead of teams consisting entirely of white men. Top firms hire at top schools because they can get butts in the seats and waste as little time and money doing it. LEt's fact it, employee turnover is high for new associates, so companies choose to spend little hiring new associates and then take in other promising candidates as lateral transfers. Small firms tend to hire in a different fashion and hire new associates with the hopes that they will eventually become partners. They don't have the money to replace their whole staff every 3 years.

I really think that there is less of a difference among students at any one school than people assume. People who perform well in legal writing may not be at the top of the class or even near the top of the class in classes that are more test-based because other issues come into play like nervousness, time management, and editing skills. A great legal writer may be one who goes back and looks at his work a few hours or even a few days later, while that is not possible during other exams. I do think that if you are generally a poor legal writer, you will have trouble on exams that require a specific format, but lots of profs don't even care how you do it.  I think all law school transfer stats tell us is that people who perform well at one law school will be presumed to perform well in any law school- not that they're necessarily going to do better once they get out into the field.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mae8 on December 01, 2006, 01:29:54 PM
Again, hiring practices are primarily economically motivated. Firms seek to hire minorities because clients are now demanding that they work with diverse legal teams instead of teams consisting entirely of white men. Top firms hire at top schools because they can get butts in the seats and waste as little time and money doing it. LEt's fact it, employee turnover is high for new associates, so companies choose to spend little hiring new associates and then take in other promising candidates as lateral transfers. Small firms tend to hire in a different fashion and hire new associates with the hopes that they will eventually become partners. They don't have the money to replace their whole staff every 3 years.

I really think that there is less of a difference among students at any one school than people assume. People who perform well in legal writing may not be at the top of the class or even near the top of the class in classes that are more test-based because other issues come into play like nervousness, time management, and editing skills. A great legal writer may be one who goes back and looks at his work a few hours or even a few days later, while that is not possible during other exams. I do think that if you are generally a poor legal writer, you will have trouble on exams that require a specific format, but lots of profs don't even care how you do it.  I think all law school transfer stats tell us is that people who perform well at one law school will be presumed to perform well in any law school- not that they're necessarily going to do better once they get out into the field.
if anyone has evidence that minorities are disproportionately successful in legal writing please share. otherwise you're disputing objective evidence with baseless theories.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: queencruella on December 01, 2006, 01:37:40 PM
Again, hiring practices are primarily economically motivated. Firms seek to hire minorities because clients are now demanding that they work with diverse legal teams instead of teams consisting entirely of white men. Top firms hire at top schools because they can get butts in the seats and waste as little time and money doing it. LEt's fact it, employee turnover is high for new associates, so companies choose to spend little hiring new associates and then take in other promising candidates as lateral transfers. Small firms tend to hire in a different fashion and hire new associates with the hopes that they will eventually become partners. They don't have the money to replace their whole staff every 3 years.

I really think that there is less of a difference among students at any one school than people assume. People who perform well in legal writing may not be at the top of the class or even near the top of the class in classes that are more test-based because other issues come into play like nervousness, time management, and editing skills. A great legal writer may be one who goes back and looks at his work a few hours or even a few days later, while that is not possible during other exams. I do think that if you are generally a poor legal writer, you will have trouble on exams that require a specific format, but lots of profs don't even care how you do it.  I think all law school transfer stats tell us is that people who perform well at one law school will be presumed to perform well in any law school- not that they're necessarily going to do better once they get out into the field.
if anyone has evidence that minorities are disproportionately successful in legal writing please share. otherwise you're disputing objective evidence with baseless theories.

I'm not saying anyone's disproportionately successful- all I am saying is that there is a possibility that someone who is in a lower percentile may do well in legal writing but not on exams. I know people who have done quite well in legal writing but their grades generally aren't at the same level. It just seems like you are the one who is making baseless claims.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on December 01, 2006, 01:42:41 PM
if anyone has evidence that minorities are disproportionately successful in legal writing please share. otherwise you're disputing objective evidence with baseless theories.

Black students do not have to be disproportionately successful (relative to their share of the student population) in legal writing for what queencruella is saying to make sense.  Black students don't even have to be proportionally represented among top legal-writing students.  The point is simply that legal writing grades may be very different from grades in exam-based classes, and they may say more about one's ability to perform the tasks of a young associate at a big law firm.  I think redemption has posted some stuff about how racial disparities in grades go down significantly when people are not under time pressure and have opportunities for revision.  Perhaps she can help you out with the sociological research.  

More fundamentally, I don't see that anyone (including Sander himself) has shown that black associates leave because they are not qualified to do the work.  Is this really the issue?  

Finally, I find it curious that you are so willing to refer to qc's speculation as a "baseless theory" when all you have offered is your own insight that law school exams test (and therefore law school grades reflect) the most important skills for young associates.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on December 01, 2006, 01:43:13 PM
Oh, sorry, qc, I didn't see your post first.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: mae8 on December 01, 2006, 02:13:10 PM
if anyone has evidence that minorities are disproportionately successful in legal writing please share. otherwise you're disputing objective evidence with baseless theories.

Black students do not have to be disproportionately successful (relative to their share of the student population) in legal writing for what queencruella is saying to make sense.  Black students don't even have to be proportionally represented among top legal-writing students.  The point is simply that legal writing grades may be very different from grades in exam-based classes, and they may say more about one's ability to perform the tasks of a young associate at a big law firm.  I think redemption has posted some stuff about how racial disparities in grades go down significantly when people are not under time pressure and have opportunities for revision.  Perhaps she can help you out with the sociological research.  

More fundamentally, I don't see that anyone (including Sander himself) has shown that black associates leave because they are not qualified to do the work.  Is this really the issue?  

Finally, I find it curious that you are so willing to refer to qc's speculation as a "baseless theory" when all you have offered is your own insight that law school exams test (and therefore law school grades reflect) the most important skills for young associates.

this is actually what i said but ok. "i dont think we're in total disagreement by any means. i dont think grades are everything"
"one of the profs here likes to tell a story about her worst exam where she gave a great analysis of a tertiary issue but completely missed the largest and clearly most critical issue. it was only one class so obviously she was able to make up for it in other classes but i would think if someone repeatedly fails to recognize the critical legal issue in a fact pattern they are missing some essential skills."
"ask your profs what they think is the difference between a great exam and a bad one. maybe they'll say it's random or maybe they'll say it demonstrates substantive differences ranging from ability to write effectively, work under pressure, or perform legal analysis. maybe it just tests the ability to jump through hoops and judge what an irrational prof wants, not unlike being able to judge what an irrational partner wants.
personally i do think grades are much more important in predicting success of a young associate than community service or leadership positions in student orgs. "

point out where i said "law school exams test (and therefore law school grades reflect) the most important skills for young associates."

you're correct sander isnt necessarily saying anything about blacks not being able to do the work. he's talking about the quality of work they receive, mentoring opps, etc and how this may lead them to leave the firm- all based on the perception that they may be less likely to succeed. maybe partners are racist or maybe they're elitist with regards to incoming credentials. more likely they're both but what i got from the article was we shouldnt discount the possibility that partners and senior associates in a prestigewhoring profession will be inherently biased againt people not on lr, from lower schools, in the bottom half of the class etc.

i look forward to seeing the evidence that red apparently has.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on December 01, 2006, 03:04:42 PM
Let's not get off on the wrong foot.  I didn't mean to be obnoxious (at least not until I read "baseless theories"), and I apologize for overstating your (and perhaps Sander's -- though I have read the article, and I'm not sure) position about grades.

I think we got caught up in a red herring about qualifications, when the real issue is partners' perceptions of qualifications (which may be influenced by grades or by other things) and whatever other factors may lead to young black associates' leaving firms at a rate disproportionate to other groups.

you're correct sander isnt necessarily saying anything about blacks not being able to do the work. he's talking about the quality of work they receive, mentoring opps, etc and how this may lead them to leave the firm- all based on the perception that they may be less likely to succeed. maybe partners are racist or maybe they're elitist with regards to incoming credentials. more likely they're both but what i got from the article was we shouldnt discount the possibility that partners and senior associates in a prestigewhoring profession will be inherently biased againt people not on lr, from lower schools, in the bottom half of the class etc.

I don't think that this is all Sander is saying, but I do agree roughly that these perceptions (be they perfectly well-founded, racist, elitist, or anything else) may cause all sorts of disparate treatment within the firm that leads to black associates' dissatisfaction. 

Assuming, arguendo, that Sander is correct that treatment within the firm has something (a lot) to do with grades, it's a problem -- a racist problem -- if partners expect less of black associates because black associates on the aggregate have lower grades than white associates.  This is why I have consistently suggested looking at the experiences of non-black associates who were hired with poor grades and the experiences of black associates who were hired with grades in the firms' normal ranges.  These data could help us understand whether it is individual associates' grades or rather the perception of their grades based on their race that causes the disparate treatment. 

I tend to believe that recent anti-affirmative action work (like Sander's mismatch theory) exacerbates whatever irrational biases partners may have, whether those biases be against attorneys who enter with low grades or black attorneys.  It both elevates law school grading to a perfect science of merit and denigrates (pun intended, I guess) black law students at top schools.

Last, it's possible that rewarding grades at the expense of other achievements may be a way of replicating whatever racial biases exist in law school grades.  I do not know enough about this to comment much further, but, for instance, the smaller race gap in take-home exam performance may suggest that law schools should emphasize use take-home exams, and they do not.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: FossilJ on December 01, 2006, 03:11:13 PM
Woohoo!  BAFF for procrastination at work tonight!
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: FossilJ on December 01, 2006, 03:53:15 PM
This is where I disagree with you the most. Do you understand the seriousness of the charge you raise? My least favorite thing about dealing with smart and somewhat partisan is they tend to come up with dichotomies like this. You’ve just said that if someone predetermines the outcome of a study and finds affirmative action to be unacceptable he is guilty of having an anti-black bias. Flawed and convoluted studies are one thing, that we can disagree about, but leaping to a charge of racism/anti-black bias is in this case similar to calling someone a witch, a communist, or a nazi.


Oh, the ironies hidden in the depths of this board!  How did I miss this the first time around?  Thanks for the enlightenment, Dr. Dichotomy.

Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: FossilJ on December 01, 2006, 04:15:35 PM
Let's not get off on the wrong foot.  I didn't mean to be obnoxious (at least not until I read "baseless theories"), and I apologize for overstating your (and perhaps Sander's -- though I have read the article, and I'm not sure) position about grades.

I think we got caught up in a red herring about qualifications, when the real issue is partners' perceptions of qualifications (which may be influenced by grades or by other things) and whatever other factors may lead to young black associates' leaving firms at a rate disproportionate to other groups.

you're correct sander isnt necessarily saying anything about blacks not being able to do the work. he's talking about the quality of work they receive, mentoring opps, etc and how this may lead them to leave the firm- all based on the perception that they may be less likely to succeed. maybe partners are racist or maybe they're elitist with regards to incoming credentials. more likely they're both but what i got from the article was we shouldnt discount the possibility that partners and senior associates in a prestigewhoring profession will be inherently biased againt people not on lr, from lower schools, in the bottom half of the class etc.

I don't think that this is all Sander is saying, but I do agree roughly that these perceptions (be they perfectly well-founded, racist, elitist, or anything else) may cause all sorts of disparate treatment within the firm that leads to black associates' dissatisfaction. 

Assuming, arguendo, that Sander is correct that treatment within the firm has something (a lot) to do with grades, it's a problem -- a racist problem -- if partners expect less of black associates because black associates on the aggregate have lower grades than white associates.  This is why I have consistently suggested looking at the experiences of non-black associates who were hired with poor grades and the experiences of black associates who were hired with grades in the firms' normal ranges.  These data could help us understand whether it is individual associates' grades or rather the perception of their grades based on their race that causes the disparate treatment. 

I tend to believe that recent anti-affirmative action work (like Sander's mismatch theory) exacerbates whatever irrational biases partners may have, whether those biases be against attorneys who enter with low grades or black attorneys.  It both elevates law school grading to a perfect science of merit and denigrates (pun intended, I guess) black law students at top schools.

Last, it's possible that rewarding grades at the expense of other achievements may be a way of replicating whatever racial biases exist in law school grades.  I do not know enough about this to comment much further, but, for instance, the smaller race gap in take-home exam performance may suggest that law schools should emphasize use take-home exams, and they do not.

Bingo.  Grading is an imperfect system.  Basing "objective" reports on grading is problematic, in and of itself. 
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on December 04, 2006, 11:48:25 AM
I saw a few lurkers checking out this thread, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to register my disappointment that the anti-AA people on the board rather consistently come in and ask for a good-faith discussion of the issue but then never seem to pick up the ball themselves.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: obamacon on February 14, 2007, 06:59:11 AM
I saw a few lurkers checking out this thread, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to register my disappointment that the anti-AA people on the board rather consistently come in and ask for a good-faith discussion of the issue but then never seem to pick up the ball themselves.

I blame the public schools.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Miss P on February 14, 2007, 04:58:57 PM
I saw a few lurkers checking out this thread, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to register my disappointment that the anti-AA people on the board rather consistently come in and ask for a good-faith discussion of the issue but then never seem to pick up the ball themselves.

I blame the public schools.

A day late and a dollar short.
Title: Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
Post by: Astro on February 14, 2007, 05:17:02 PM
I saw a few lurkers checking out this thread, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to register my disappointment that the anti-AA people on the board rather consistently come in and ask for a good-faith discussion of the issue but then never seem to pick up the ball themselves.

I blame the public schools.

A day late and a dollar short.

 :D :D :D