what does that mean? in reference to the comment about making partner.
The thing one must remember is that high performing African Americans (especially males) are VERY, VERY much in demand. The number one black retention problem at the Chicago NALP250 firm I am summering at is the blacks who hold their own often get better offers from the clients they work on. These corporations also have trouble attracting quality black candidates. The question becomes:
Do I stay on as a senior associate or do I take the Fortune 500 job where I will be in charge of North American legal affairs and make an extra $100,000 a year? Well, it's obvious which spot a lot of people will take.
This was the exact issue that happened to two fourth year black associates this summer (one female, one male). I witnessed it with my own eyes. The thing is, you could tell these two were going to be partners if they stuck with the firm, but they could make a huge jump without waiting four more years. As much as the firm wants to retain blacks, they will not offer them more money than their white counterparts and they sure as hell won't shorten the partner track.
The lack of black partners has more to do with poaching than it does underperformance by blacks. The recruitment is another issue. If you are top 20% out of Georgetown as a black (especially a black male) you are going to be able to write your own ticket. All of the firms will be dying for you, the corporations will all be dying to get you, prestigious government jobs will give you a chance.
If you are a black student, from a top school and have an adequate performance on the job...The world is yours.
Take my post as you want, but I believe this is how it is. Even if you struggle in school, you will still land a nice job (you are going to a great school). However, once at the firm, you will need to hold your own in order to stay on partner track. With that said, I fully believe it is easier as a black to become a partner. the reason is because of the dearth of blacks. The number of blacks entering law school is actually decreasing, and this makes blacks a more scarce commodity.
There is absolutely no doubt that a high performing black will have better exit options than a similarly performing white. I wouldn't worry about the relative lack of blacks in partner positions. Some of, even a lot of, this issue has to do with blacks getting poached.
One word of advice, make friends with the black partners. They will more than likely take you under the wing and tell you how to go about getting the important work, and as a result you'll become a more marketable attorney.