ILNews

Legal profession lags in diversity as compared to other professions

Jennifer Nelson
December 11, 2013
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Minority employment in the legal profession has grown significantly slower as compared to certain medical and business professions, according to a study released by Microsoft Corp.

The computer software giant commissioned the study to compare the rates of diversity in comparable professions: accountants and auditors; financial managers; and physicians and surgeons. These professions have similar requirements as the legal community such as broad education or licensing requirements.
 
Between 2003 and 2012, the percentage of underrepresented minorities – African-Americans and Hispanics – who are attorneys grew only 0.8 percent. The percentage of underrepresented minorities who worked as financial managers grew nearly six percent from 2003 to 2012. The percentage of doctors, as well as auditors and accountants, also saw larger increases over that same nine-year period as compared to the lawyers.

The percentage of underrepresented minorities in each of these professions lags behind the national workforce. In 2012, people of color made up nearly one-third of the labor force. According to the study, the gap between diversity in the legal profession and diversity in the U.S. has worsened over the past nine years.

“Unless the legal profession makes faster progress, it will miss the dynamism and creativity that diversity brings to other fields. We risk failure in having a profession that is as diverse as the country we serve – a prerequisite for healthy legal service for a democracy,” said Brad Smith, general counsel & executive vice president, legal & corporate affairs at Microsoft.

The study questions why careers in medicine and business have less of a diversity gap than the law. It points out there are no national scholarships on the scale of the medical and business fields and license passage rates are significantly higher in the medical fields.

The study suggests that financial support should be provided to enable all students to adequately prepare for the bar exam, and that bar prep be part of the standard law school curriculums.

“While many law firms, in-house legal departments and others helpfully are increasing development, mentoring and growth opportunities for under-represented minorities, evidence shows that we continue to lose out on the chance to recruit many promising professionals before they begin their career,” Smith said. “For example, the only national study of bar passage rates (LSAC, 1998) revealed that more than 20 percent of African Americans and more than 10 percent of Hispanic/Latino law students never passed the bar, compared to less than 5 percent of white law students. If African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos passed the bar at the same rate as whites (96.7 percent), this would have the same impact as increasing the number of African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos in law school by 18 percent.”

Smith calls on states to publish pass-fail rates broken down by ethnic background of the test takers.

Microsoft also suggests making alternative degrees available that are more flexible than full-time programs, as well as expand admissions criteria that consider attributes and experiences in addition to test metrics.
 

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  • As the article says
    Seems pretty straightforward to me, and quite in keeping with tyranny, American style: "The invitation stated in no uncertain terms that white people could not attend. It instructed recipients with the right skin colors to reply seeking the highly confidential date and time of the happy hour. The email did have some advice for white recipients, though. “If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that,” it read. Diversity and Equity Center staffer Karama Blackhorn, a multi-pierced woman with a long, thin braid, helped write the invitation. “That space is not for white people,” she told KING-TV. “That space is for people of color.” Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/12/taxpayer-funded-community-college-bans-white-people-from-staff-happy-hour/#ixzz2wQ06yQNA
  • keep movin snowflake
    Let's be honest what this phony word "diversity" means. It means "too many white guys." I wonder all you white guys that just see this and keep moving and never open your yaps to complain over this-- do you think that when you are out-voted, and out-gunned, and the big money is lined up against you, as surely is coming as your numbers dwindle, will anybody in the new "diverse" majority establish quotas for your or bother much to treat you fairly? Or will you have to keep paying and endless price for the oppression of yesteryears. Will the price keep on going up, the weaker and more chicken you get?
  • Quite the Diversity Officer
    So how many like this are pushing diversity politics in the Indiana judiciary and print journalism? http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/12/taxpayer-funded-community-college-bans-white-people-from-staff-happy-hour/2/
  • Diversify!
    We then maybe we just need to take things up a few notches to make diversity work as intended. Like this: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/12/taxpayer-funded-community-college-bans-white-people-from-staff-happy-hour/

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    1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

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    5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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