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April 29, 2014


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That is grim. And plainly unfair. I think the only way to effectively combat this type of bias is to reduce or eliminate affirmative action. That way, there will be (or should be) no doubt that the minority that has passed the requisite tests is equivalent to his/her peers.

I personally don't mind a moderate advantage in admission for underrepresented minorities, but the real world consequence is that they are never given a fair opportunity to prove that their work is of equal value.

Perhaps AA should take the form of increased financial aid rather than qualification standards.

Former Editor

I do wonder if this is, to some extent, a reflection of the sample group rather than a more generalizable finding. I can't seem to find the underlying data, which would be helpful. Things like firm size, location of the firm (i.e., are the firms in NYC or Dallas or a geographic mix), age of partner, etc. might have significant impact on the outcomes.

I would also be interested in seeing if the results are replicable in other sectors (e.g., DA's offices).

Jeff Harrison

I think we need some standard deviations to fully appreciate this. In any case, I think the opposite result would happen if law professors did the grading.

I'd also be interested in the outcome of the same experiment only with half being identified a graduating from a high end school and half for an much lower range school. I suspect the institutional authority of the higher ranked school would be higher rankings for the writing.

This makes me wonder if being white is a form of institutional authority.


JM, Your argument would imply that there should have been no bias in Jim Crow days, when there was no question that a minority at Yale was at least as qualified by the numbers as anyone else. But I do not think it is true that there was less stereotyping then. Jack


"This makes me wonder if being white is a form of institutional authority."

Uhhh, yeah....

Jeff Harrison

Actually CHS, my thought was that the evaluation was not a function of overt racial animus but an assumption about what one would expect along the lines of hiring only hiring the privileged to be law professors. And, if it is, who are law professors worried about some institutional authority but not other forms.


Does not matter. The phrase works by itself.

Prof. S

Is anyone bothered by the fact that the subjects of the experiment were deceived? If this were academic research, I doubt it would pass IRB review and if a lawyer misrepresented a material fact to a third party, wouldn't said lawyer be subject to discipline?

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