Thursday, October 11, 2007


(This is cross posted over at Concurring Opinions and repeats some of what I have written in prior Moneylaw posts.)

Did you ever notice that law school hiring seems to aim for not-all-that-diverse diversity? It reminds me of a friend who claims to love Thai food and then orders everything "extra mild." Does he like Thai food (as in embrace it) or does he simply embrace the idea of liking Thai food? It's like the question I often ask my classes: Can you have a preference for a preference?

How is this like faculty hiring for diversity? My, admittedly unofficial, view is that when hiring committees actually prefer candidates in this order:

White elite eduated male
White elite ed. female
African American ed. elite male
African Americna ed. elite female
White non elite female
White non elite male
African American non elite female
African American non elite female

The ranking is, no surprise, consistent with social comfort and, let's face it, given that there is no evidence that one group is better at law teaching than another and that law professors can "interpret" resumes to mean anything, social comfort plays a big role.

So, do law professors on average like the idea of embracing diversity or do they really embrace diversity? I think it's the former and it's not even close. They have a preference for a preference for diversity but the real preference is just not there.

So how would you recruit for actually diversity? No question in my mind that race is a big factor but how about these questions:

1. What was your father or mother's occupation?
2. How much school did your father and mother complete?
3. How much student debt have you accumulated?
4. How many people do you know at an Ivy League school?
5. Ever worked at McDonalds, washed cars, or bagged groceries?
6. Anyone in your family on welfare.
7. Has anyone in your family done time?
8. Ever been out of the US?
9. What is the difference between rigatoni and zitti? (oops, sorry this one accidently came over from a completely different list)

When and if law faculties get serious about diversity, let me know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your excellent questions acutely uncover dimensions of class experience that are almost never considered in faculty hiring. In fact, most faculty wouldn't even know what questions to ask, because they don't know what they never needed to know as charter members of the elite class.

10/13/2007 12:22 PM  

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