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More Proof That Diversity Matters at Law Firms

Last month, I posted here about legal scholars who oppose affirmative action in law schools because some studies show that many minority students who are accepted under reduced standards do poorly or even flunk out.  The recent article Minority Partner Paradox  (e-report, 6/21/06) has fueled this debate, reporting that minorities who are accepted through affirmative action are often marginalized at law firms and wind up leaving.

That situation will change soon, however.  Because as the New York Times article Pushed by Clients, Law Firms Step Up Diversity Efforts (7/20/06) reports, large firms are going to need to hire minority and women candidates to meet their corporate clients' demands.

According to the article, about 100 companies, including American Airlines, Boeing and General Motors, have signed onto a pledge to increase diversity.   Moreover, the corporations don't just want trophy diversity lawyers; they now insist that women and minority lawyers function as part of the team.  Some companies are particularly serious about their commitment -- for example,  Wal-Mart went so far as to drop two law firms because of lack of diversity in the ranks.

Just as corporate America is demanding law firms with diverse attorneys who serve as more than figureheads, law firms will soon demand that law schools provide them with a pool of qualified, diverse attorneys.   And just as law firms are listening to their customers (corporate clients), law schools must listen to one set of customers, i.e., the law firms who hire law students.    If there's a demand for quality minority candidates, as the NYT article suggests, law schools better start making  sure that minority students succeed, so they can take advantage of the demand for diversity in the law firm workforce. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 21, 2006 at 06:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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