Law Schools

Race Cuts Both Ways in Law School Hiring, Study Says


A study by a 2009 Harvard Law School graduate concludes that minorities are more likely than whites to land law school tenure-track positions, but minorities are more likely to end up at lower-tier schools.

“In the realm of law school hiring, race appears to cut both ways,” according to a summary of the study by Ming Zhu, a litigation fellow with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.

The National Law Journal summarized the findings.

The study was based on 2004-05 data from a recruiting program sponsored by the Association of American Law Schools.

According to the study, law schools hired 21 percent out of 889 lawyers who applied for the positions. Asians were most successful, with almost 43 percent getting jobs, the NLJ account says. The numbers were about 29 percent for Latinos, 24 percent for blacks and 21 percent of whites.

The percentage of minority hires increased at the schools with the lowest prestige scores as determined by U.S. News & World Report.

The study offered several reasons why the more prestigious schools aren’t hiring many minorities, according to the NLJ story. The top schools might have fewer minority mentors, they may have “exhausted their need for minority hires,” or they may do so much lateral hiring that they don’t use the AALS process. Discrimination could also be a factor, the study said.

“Is affirmative action occurring within law school hiring?” Zhu wrote. “Is there racial discrimination within law school hiring? Based on the results of this study, the answer would seem to be yes to both questions.”

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