Question re: minority applicants

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Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 2:55 am

I am interested in applying to a boutique civil lit firm in a very large, diverse metro area (Think of downtown NYC, LA, SF etc) because they got the hook ups with all the cool high profile cases. The founding partner is well known among local politicians and business people. However, I noticed that all 30 or so attorneys and all staff members are all white (no Jewish either). Of course I am not implying that there's any purposeful exclusion of minorities because I don't know, but this demographic seemed a little odd compared to the diverse neighborhood it is located. I also noticed that the founding partner's children are also partners in the firm. Both of these factors make me feel a little uneasy to apply as a minority applicant. Am I thinking too deep into it or do I have a reason to skip this firm?

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:05 am

not just boutique firms, but even bigger firms are like that too

partner diversity is drastically low compared to associate diversity for basically every firm in the nation
minorities dont make partner often for many reasons like implicit bias, client bias, etc

however, i would think the firm notices that having its staff look like the insides of a nabisco original premium box is not a good look so they might really be thrilled to have you

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 4:08 am

Pretty much every biglaw firm lacks diversity compared to the city that it's located in.

I'm a minority who has worked in a couple of biglaw offices - one very diverse, one not particularly diverse. Although I can't say that I felt incredibly discriminated against at the more homogeneous firm, I know others in similar situations grumbled that they felt like they weren't always being given equal opportunities. My gut, and I really don't have much to base this on, is that it would be less of a problem at a true boutique where you actually have a chance to overcome biases and there may be less groupthink. But it could go both ways.

I don't think it's unreasonable to consider it as a factor, but I wouldn't cancel it off my list completely just because no one looks like you.

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 4:14 am

If you see several familial relationships that are apparent are the firm directory there are likely many more you don't see.

I would be hesitant about joining this firm unless you fit perfectly within the same socioeconomic culture as the partners. That is not to say a minority employee would be purposefully discriminated against but if there are multiple family members as partners it is safe to assume that there are family friends etc. at the firm. It's not necessarily a race thing but a "one of us" or an "in crowd" thing.

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:23 pm

I quickly scanned personnel photos at my firm just for s&g (well over V50, has more than 6 offices, including some in DC/NYC/etc.); there are 14 black legal professionals of any kind (associate, of counsel, partner). I don't get the sense that this is uncommon (unfortunately).

The thing I'd be more worried about is perhaps the fact that kids of the partner have become partners; maybe they're fully qualified, but it could also mean that only in-crowd people get partner there/that it'll be difficult-to-impossible for you to make partner there if you don't already have a connection to the partners there. So I wouldn't worry about race per-se, but the "legacy partnership" thing would be a red-flag, to me.

karl.jackson

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby karl.jackson » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:33 pm

I think you are thinking to deep. I would not base my decision on whether or not to apply to a firm on the relationship between partners or between partners and associates. It may indicate your chances on getting the job. Furthermore, as a minority applicant you have a different perspective to bring to the table, so you will add value to any team. Do not count yourself out of a job because you are a minority. You either meet the standard academically or work product wise or you do not.

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 2:03 pm

karl.jackson wrote:I think you are thinking to deep. I would not base my decision on whether or not to apply to a firm on the relationship between partners or between partners and associates. It may indicate your chances on getting the job. Furthermore, as a minority applicant you have a different perspective to bring to the table, so you will add value to any team. Do not count yourself out of a job because you are a minority. You either meet the standard academically or work product wise or you do not.


i dont think it's as that simple. not every firm values diversity or diverse opinion. There are stories here on TLS where partners even refuse to shake hands with racial minority applicant after an interview. Also your case is truly an exception and it should not be generalized.

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
karl.jackson wrote:I think you are thinking to deep. I would not base my decision on whether or not to apply to a firm on the relationship between partners or between partners and associates. It may indicate your chances on getting the job. Furthermore, as a minority applicant you have a different perspective to bring to the table, so you will add value to any team. Do not count yourself out of a job because you are a minority. You either meet the standard academically or work product wise or you do not.


i dont think it's as that simple. not every firm values diversity or diverse opinion. There are stories here on TLS where partners even refuse to shake hands with racial minority applicant after an interview. Also your case is truly an exception and it should not be generalized.


Yeah I second this; I do think people should always apply for jobs they want, even if they think they won't get them for some intangible reason (like racism), unless it would be too burdensome to do so. But to act like everyone values diversity, or to act like hard work and good work product is all that's ever important, is a bit naive and idealistic. OP isn't ovethinking things for noticing the discrepancy and worrying if there may be a potential issue.

bk1

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Re: Question re: minority applicants

Postby bk1 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Pretty much every biglaw firm lacks diversity compared to the city that it's located in.

I'm a minority who has worked in a couple of biglaw offices - one very diverse, one not particularly diverse. Although I can't say that I felt incredibly discriminated against at the more homogeneous firm, I know others in similar situations grumbled that they felt like they weren't always being given equal opportunities. My gut, and I really don't have much to base this on, is that it would be less of a problem at a true boutique where you actually have a chance to overcome biases and there may be less groupthink. But it could go both ways.

I don't think it's unreasonable to consider it as a factor, but I wouldn't cancel it off my list completely just because no one looks like you.

+1

Also, what's the harm in applying and checking it out (if you get an interview)? If you don't like the place after the interview you can always decline (if you get an offer).



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