[UCLA law professor Richard] Sander relies too heavily upon grades as predictors of law firm performance. All of us know scores of brilliant law students who turn out to be terrible lawyers — because they lack social skills, common sense, etc. These people go on to become law professors.
If you’d like to read an entire article devoted to this rather banal proposition — namely, that partnership decisions aren’t based on how well a lawyer did back in law school — click here.*
So Jonathan Glater’s Week in Review piece may not be terribly interesting or amusing. But check out some of the reader comments on Adam Liptak’s original article; a few are real winners. Like this one:
I am sixty years old, and have gone to Law School with Blacks and think the proiblem is simple.
Blacks have lower standards for being accepted at law schools…. Then, while in Law School, my impression was that less was expected oif [sic] Black students while in Law School. Finally, when they are recruited, they are recruited to fill a quota or some diversity goal at the firm or company.
Blacks for a variety of reasons have not had the cultural background to develop as fully as they one day will….
Those Blacks — with whom we are quite familiar, since we went to Law School with them — just don’t have the “cultural background” to succeed in Biglaw. Clients and judges have such a hard time understanding Ebonics….**
* Yes, we’re being a bit glib. There’s an issue of causation versus correlation here. Obviously partners aren’t picked because they did well back in law school (which is the straw man that Glater’s piece knocks down).
But law school performance may correlate with certain skills that ARE the basis for partnership decisions. Professor Sander cites research showing a correlation between law school grades and how long lawyers remain at a firm. This in turn correlates with how many lawyers make partner, given the usual “up or out” system at most big firms. (But ATL is not the ideal forum for getting down into the academic weeds on this subject, so we will stop here.)
** We are NOT saying that anyone who subscribes to Professor Sander’s theory — which is supported by a wealth of research and data — is “racist.” We just think this particular commenter expressed himself rather inelegantly, that’s all.
Straight ‘A’ Student? Good Luck Making Partner [New York Times]
Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms [New York Times]
Earlier: How Long Will It Take…