Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Discrimination in Major Law Firms?

Interesting data is available showing the number of African, Asian, and Hispanic American lawyers and partners at 20+ major law firms. The common pattern is that the Partner/Lawyer ratio is much higher for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans than for Asian-Americans. An interesting question is why. Three possibilities:

1. The firms discriminate in favor of blacks and make them partner more often.

2. The firms discriminate against blacks, and hire them as associates less often.

3. The past decade has had a surge in the number of Asian-American lawyers, who aren't old enough to go up for partner yet.

This could use further study.

Later: See Steve Sailer. Apparently, if a group difference is more than 4/5, you can sue. That's easy here. You'd get statistical significance even for individual law firms. An interesting legal question, though, is whether you could sue an entire industry on behalf of an industry class-- sue 20 law firms on behalf of the denied Asian associates-- if all of the law firms had the same discrimination pattern, but non individually statistically signfiicant, but jointly highly significant.

Something amusing about the lawsuit is that the likely best defense can't be used. It is: "We make lots more blacks partner because we discriminate against them at the associate level and their average quality is a lot higher than for asians."

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