March 23, 2015

JIM LINDGREN LOOKS AT LAW FACULTY DIVERSITY: The most over-represented groups in law teaching compared to working lawyers: minorities and women. The most under-represented group in law teaching compared to working lawyers: white males.

This is no big surprise, but he’s got a lot of data. Excerpt:

Table A is a shortened version of Table 17 in the Measuring Diversity paper. It ranks groups from the most over-represented to the most under-represented in law teaching compared to working lawyers, ranked by the absolute percentage above or below parity. By that measure, all ethnic minorities combined are the most over-represented group in law teaching (19.9% of professors compared to 14.2% of lawyers). That corresponds to about two extra minorities on a typical law faculty of forty. Next are African Americans (5.3% over-represented), followed by females (3.5% over-represented, only about one extra women on each faculty of forty). As the ratio column shows, there are over twice as many African-American law professors as their percentages among working lawyers would suggest.

The most under-represented ethnic or gender group in law teaching compared to working lawyers is non-Hispanic white males, who are about three faculty short of parity. If, however, a faculty were to do targeted hiring of only white males without firing any current faculty, they would need to hire seven white males on every faculty to reach parity. To reach parity for non-Hispanic whites overall, every law faculty of forty would have to hire nineteen whites. The third most under-represented group by absolute percentage differences is males overall (3.5% short of parity).
In terms of race and gender, law faculties are now as diverse as the English-fluent, full-time working lawyer population of a similar age. To make further progress on this front, perhaps one should focus more on ethnic and gender equity within the leadership of law faculties and on diversifying the population of working lawyers to widen the pool from which professors are drawn. Moreover, traditional diversity hiring of women and ethnic minorities does not necessarily lead to a diversity of viewpoints — and regarding political views, usually leads in the opposite direction.

If as a society we are to engage in social engineering, we need to pay more attention to realities and to think more critically about what we are actually accomplishing. We should study our success with affirmative action to learn how it can be exported to other fields, but we should also study our failure to promote diversity of viewpoints to learn how to reverse it. Now that the important work of race and gender integration has succeeded on law school faculties — with the traditional affirmative action groups now matching or exceeding their percentages in the broader lawyer population — the next step should be to desegregate law schools politically.

Indeed. This is something that state legislatures should look at.

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