Asian-Americans are underrepresented in influential legal jobs, study says

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Goodwin Liu

California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu. Office of the Governor of California

Asian-Americans make up more than 5 percent of the U.S. population, and an even greater percentage of law students. They are well-represented among the nation’s lawyers. But they are underrepresented among the top ranks of the legal profession, according to a new study.

The study was conducted by Yale Law School students and California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, the Associated Press reports.

Asian Americans “have a foot in the door in virtually every sector of the legal profession,” Liu told AP. “The question now is how wide that door’s going to swing open for them.”

The AP article and a prior story by Yale Law School summarize the findings. They include:

• Out of 94 U.S. attorneys, three were three Asian-Americans. Among about 2,500 elected state prosecutors, four were Asian-Americans.

• Only 26 active Article III judges are Asian-Americans, making up about 3 percent of the federal judiciary. Two percent of state trial and appeals judges who were surveyed were Asian-American.

• Asian-Americans are the largest minority group at major law firms, but they have the highest attrition rates and the lowest ratio of partners to associates.

The study included a survey of more than 600 Asian-American lawyers. More than 80 percent of the respondents said they experienced implicit bias in the workplace.

Respondents reported that those in the legal profession considered Asian-Americans to be hardworking and responsible, but they were not associated with qualities of empathy, creativity or assertiveness.

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