The Volokh Conspiracy

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Race and Partnership Rates at Large Law Firms


Heather Mac Donald writes about this at the City Journal. The most striking data is on the average grade breakdown of incoming associates by race (which stems from what appear to be quite aggressive racial preferences in hiring), which comes from my colleague Rick Sander's The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm (2006); note that it is from the "After the JD" study of lawyers who joined the bar in 2000, though my sense is that not much has changed (at least as to blacks and whites) in law schools and law firms since then:

To the extent that grades measure legal ability—and I think they do to a considerable extent, though of course the two aren't perfectly correlated—it's not surprising that the disparity coming in would yield disparity in attrition and in partnership rates, though of course this doesn't preclude other possible causes for the latter disparity. For a response to Sander's article, see this piece by James E. Coleman, Jr. & Mitu Gulati.