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Author Topic: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'  (Read 10896 times)

Miss P

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2006, 11:05:21 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.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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queencruella

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2006, 11:11:02 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.

Miss P

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2006, 11:12:46 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.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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Lurking Third Year

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2006, 11:27:12 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.

shaz

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2006, 12:33:40 AM »
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. 
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dbgirl

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2006, 04:35:15 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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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).
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dbgirl

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2006, 04:40:11 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 ...
When you have somebody dying because they are poor and black or poor and white or because of whatever they are ... that erases everything that's great about this country.

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shaz

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2006, 07:52:57 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.   
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cui bono?

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #28 on: June 24, 2006, 08:42:43 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.   
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...  I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word - -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

cui bono?

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Re: Law Firm 'Aggressive Racial Preferences'
« Reply #29 on: June 24, 2006, 08:49:36 AM »

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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.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...  I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word - -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King