Minority Issues

For the past eight years, the National Association of Women Lawyers has tracked women’s progress at the 200 largest firms in the nation by comparing their careers and compensation with similarly situated men. We snidely remarked last year that reviewing the most recent report was like “drinking a fifth of gin, then watching Requiem For A Dream: it’s really freaking depressing.”

Keeping that in perspective, we — perhaps over-optimistically — thought that in a year’s time, Biglaw firms would have realized that women have a rightful place in this profession, and deserve to be treated as fairly and as equally as their male counterparts. We were clearly and painfully delusional.

Sure, the percentage of female equity partners rose from 15 percent to 17 percent, and that’s great. But we’ve found out that an “unprecedented” number of Biglaw firms refused to participate in the survey. Was it because they’re sick of surveys, or was it because firms “are generally less interested in the subject of advancing women lawyers and/or are hesitant to share, even on an anonymous and confidential basis, statistics that show that their women lawyers lag behind their male counterparts”?

Let’s find out….

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It started with “Team Sander.” In November, we told you that some students at UCLA Law School started wearing T-shirts in support of UCLA law professor Richard Sander, whose scholarship is racially divisive. Some people argued that the shirts were not racially motivated, and even some of my colleagues argued that they needed to “know more” about the intentions behind the shirts before they started calling people racist.

Well… now we know more, and “racist” seems like the only appropriate way to describe at least some students at UCLA Law. Now the question becomes: does the law school administration give a crap?

Read on for the disturbing allegations….

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A tipster sent in a flyer of a Valentine’s Day giveaway being sponsored by a black law students association, and honestly, I hope the BLSA was set up. Seriously, it would be better if racist white people promoted this event as a way to troll black people than if actual black people thought this would be a good idea.

In fact, screw it, that’s the frame I’m going with. New headline: Black Law Students Trolled By Racists On Valentine’s Day…

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* According to Justice Kagan, Justice Ginsburg “is responsible for eliminating sex discrimination from American law.” Whoa, that’s a nice thought, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves with wishful thinking. [New York Law Journal]

* After handing out pink slips staff, Heenan Blaikie lawyers sat down and voted to dissolve the Canadian firm’s partnership and wind up its business. It’s kind of like Dewey, but with maple syrup! [Legal Post / Financial Post]

* Jack W. Butler, the bankruptcy bigwig who managed to negotiate the American Airlines / US Airways merger, will leave his home at Skadden Arps after 23 years and head to Hilco Global. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Vermont Law School has partnered with several historically black colleges and universities in order to put warm bodies in empty seats promote the expansion of racial diversity in the legal profession. [VT Digger]

* David Savner, a corporate partner at Jenner & Block, recently donated $1 million to his alma mater, Northwestern Law, to fund a high-tech classroom. It must be nice to be rich. [Crain's Chicago Business]

* The ABA Journal wants to know what the “oddest” elective course you ever took in law school was. If you took a “Law and _____” class and didn’t get an “A,” you should hang your head in shame. [ABA Journal]

Amy Chua

As opposed to Chinese Tigers robotically assembling Apple products, isn’t it more wondrous to behold the specter of two Chinese-Jewish Ivy League law ­professor/successful author Hybrid Tigers who’ve fashioned Yale student research (from a 2008 project) into a dull but probably lucrative book? Such are the rewards of our American meritocracy.

Sandra Tsing Loh, writing in the New York Times Book Review about The Triple Package (affiliate link), the new book by Professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School.

(Additional highlights from the review, after the jump.)

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Law is not an especially racially diverse profession. More than 93 percent of partners are white, and less than two percent are black, according to 2013 statistics from NALP. A little over four percent of associates are black. A single African American lawyer argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the entire OT 2012. By contrast, African Americans account for approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Perhaps you think these statistics reflect persistent, pervasive race bias, even hatred. Perhaps you worry, as I do, that many good potential lawyers are excluded from the profession by a combination of obstacles that disproportionately affect the black community. Or perhaps you think many African Americans are just too damned smart to board the sinking ship that you think is the American legal world’s “New Normal.”

For purposes of present discussion, let’s say that, ceteris paribus, increasing the number of black lawyers would be good. How should law school admissions policies promote this goal?

Last Friday, Elie wrote about a Daily Caller article revealing plans at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law. The plans involved faculty discussion of a new admissions program designed to recruit more black law students. Elie decried the article, lauded the proposed program, and suggested that it was not unconstitutional. Dan Greenberg, quoted in both the DC article and Elie’s, responded.

I agree with Elie that the DC article was lousy — poorly researched, misleadingly written, and blatantly inflammatory. I agree with Dan Greenberg, however, that UALR’s proposal almost certainly would not withstand the strict scrutiny analysis required of race-based admissions programs.

What is so wrong with admissions policies like this one? Even if we agree that encouraging and including more black law school applicants is a good thing, there are fairer, constitutionally permissible ways to achieve that goal without relying on ham-fisted race-based criteria. Ironically, we need look no further than the text of the LEAP proposal itself to see an example….

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Amy Chua: return of the Tiger Mother.

That’s the question that occurred to me after reading the interesting New York Times profile of Amy “Tiger Mother” Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld. In advance of the February 4 release of Chua and Rubenfeld’s new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (affiliate link), the Times decided to profile this pair of prominent professors at Yale Law School.

The Times article contains some interesting new tidbits — including, for example, the elite Ivy League college that just admitted Chuafeld’s youngest daughter….

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Amy Chua: return of the Tiger Mother.

Merely stating the fact that certain groups do better than others — as measured by income, test scores and so on — is enough to provoke a firestorm in America today, and even charges of racism. The irony is that the facts actually debunk racial stereotypes. There are some black and Hispanic groups in America that far outperform some white and Asian groups.

– Professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School, in a New York Times essay based on their new book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (affiliate link).

(Is the book “racist”? Let’s discuss, after the jump.)

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Regardless of what you think about affirmative action, can we at least agree that it is a complicated issue? Can we at least agree that the vagaries of constitutionally permissible racial conscious admissions programs are subtle? Is it too much to ask that when reporters try to get the public to freak out about affirmative action proposals, they at least read the proposals first?

The Daily Caller got a hold of an affirmative action story yesterday, and they totally blew it. They’ve got a juicy headline: “Will public law school push affirmative action in secret?” And they’ve got a really crazy hook: “[The law school] would allow [disadvantaged minorities] to study a different curriculum and take different tests than other students pursuing the same studies.”

Well damn, if a law school was pushing a secret plan to allow minorities to take different tests than everybody else at the law school, that would be outrageous! And unconstitutional! And generally horrible.

Good thing that’s not at all what any law school is contemplating…

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The New Yorker recently published a profile of President Barack Obama, written by David Remnick. Eighteen pages and approximately 17,000 words long, it’s the sort of long-form journalism many of us yearn for in a blighted age of listicles and blurbs and click-bait articles the titles of which sound more like threats than topics of meaningful discussion.

In the piece, the President says:

“There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues [ . . . ] You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government—that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable—and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments. But what’s also true, obviously, is that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there. And so I think it’s important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there’s some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans. The flip side is I think it’s important for conservatives to recognize and answer some of the problems that are posed by that history, so that they understand if I am concerned about leaving it up to states to expand Medicaid that it may not simply be because I am this power-hungry guy in Washington who wants to crush states’ rights but, rather, because we are one country and I think it is going to be important for the entire country to make sure that poor folks in Mississippi and not just Massachusetts are healthy.

When the President draws a connection between contemporary advocates of limited government and the vicious history of American apartheid, the public is wont to think that this connection is accepted truth. He sets a new starting point for discourse, a new baseline for measuring the claims of his political opponents. He leads the average citizen to think that there’s no argument needed for these conclusions . . . even though an actual argument is definitely called for to support accusations of this sort.

Nevertheless, he might be onto something. No. Seriously…

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