Clerkships so white

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Clerkships so white

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:20 pm

I'm trying to understand something. Without it turning into a dumpster fire, as so many threads about race become.

The latest ABA data shows that 27% of law students are racial minorities. At top schools, where students are more likely to clerk, the number tends to be higher. Harvard, for example, has 32% minority enrollment, according to its 509.

All told, I interviewed with five judges and twenty clerks. Out of the twenty clerks, only three were people of color (two of them were clerking for one judge; three judges had no POC clerks whatsoever). There was only one black clerk.

Why the disparity?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:38 pm

There are a whole bunch of possible reasons:

- your sample isn't representative (I don't think this is actually true, but as with lots of stuff about clerking we're working with anecdotes)
- the argument gets made that people tend to hire people who look like they do, and the federal judiciary is still overwhelmingly white (as a corollary to this: my anecdote is that a lot of the non-white clerks I've known clerked for non-white judges)
- on the whole judges aren't as committed to diversity as schools are (and/or don't have the same incentives to care; no one is tracking demographics of clerkship hires, and judges are set for life so don't have to answer to anyone)
- mismatch theory: some people argue that the URM boost results in (at least) AA law students disproportionately ending up in the bottom of their law school classes, which would tend to depress minority hiring, given the importance of grades in the hiring process (I'm imprecise here because I think the studies focus on AA, and LSN etc. suggest that the boost is greatest for AAs, but I'm not sure if the studies address other minority groups).
- minority students are less interested in clerking (not convinced by this one, either, although to the extent minority students in top schools come from more disadvantaged backgrounds than white students - which is of course another huge generalization - it's possible at least some are less interested in delaying a biglaw salary to clerk)
- to the extent it's not captured by the above: racism

Edited to add: no, the OP probably doesn't need to be anon, but I'm not going to out someone who's talking about their own interviews.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:49 pm

Another possibility is ideological sorting: there are relatively more clerkship spots for conservative law students (who tend to be white). Minority law students are competing for fewer clerkship spots and have more competition for those spots.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:55 pm

Interesting Nony + anon @ 10:49. All of these sound very plausible. I would like to think that sophisticated federal judges understand the value in diversifying the profession, but may just be rose colored glasses.

FWIW the judges I interviewed with seemed pretty liberal, or at least down with liberal clerks. All dem president appointees, and all okay with my (very left-wing) resume. So I would have expected far more POCs.

A couple more possibilities
-Few POC clerks to begin with, so less appealing for POCs to clerk. Lack of pathway etc.
-Homogenous clerks a function of lack of diversity in academia (i.e., fewer POCs enter legal academia, so fewer clerk. Maybe a factor on the margins)

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:07 pm

re: diversity and academia - I think the causation would go the other way around, fewer POC clerks --> fewer POC in academia. There are a lot of reasons for clerking that have nothing to do with academia and a lot of people clerk who aren't interested in academia. I also think academia is probably more interested in diversity (although there is still a pipeline issue and fewer POC in the upper ranks).

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby rpupkin » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW the judges I interviewed with seemed pretty liberal, or at least down with liberal clerks. All dem president appointees, and all okay with my (very left-wing) resume. So I would have expected far more POCs.

During Justice Ginsburg's confirmation hearing back in 1993, she had to deal with the embarrassment of the revelation that she had hired only white clerks during her thirteen years on the DC Circuit.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby jd20132013 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:42 pm

Hasn't she still never hired a Black or Latino clerk ?

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nothingtosee
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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby nothingtosee » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:04 pm

jd20132013 wrote:Hasn't she still never hired a Black or Latino clerk ?



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_J._Watford

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby Interficio » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Another possibility is ideological sorting: there are relatively more clerkship spots for conservative law students (who tend to be white). Minority law students are competing for fewer clerkship spots and have more competition for those spots.


I feel this post so hard when it comes to the legal profession. So many slots for conservative students relative to their numbers, not mention awesome FedSoc network

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:23 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:FWIW the judges I interviewed with seemed pretty liberal, or at least down with liberal clerks. All dem president appointees, and all okay with my (very left-wing) resume. So I would have expected far more POCs.

During Justice Ginsburg's confirmation hearing back in 1993, she had to deal with the embarrassment of the revelation that she had hired only white clerks during her thirteen years on the DC Circuit.


When she talks in public about the sexism she faced, she often tells this story about having worked for a firm back when she went to law school. At the end of the summer, after having done a good job, she was told the firm did not want her because they already hired a black woman, which according to the firm, as she seemed to have said at one point (if I recall right), was even better than hiring her since they could check of both race and gender for diversity. I wonder if that experience led her to both fight sexism as much as she does and carry some grudge about racial diversity boost in hiring.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby jd20132013 » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:22 am

nothingtosee wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:Hasn't she still never hired a Black or Latino clerk ?



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_J._Watford

Good catch

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby lolwat » Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:30 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:There are a whole bunch of possible reasons:

- the argument gets made that people tend to hire people who look like they do, and the federal judiciary is still overwhelmingly white (as a corollary to this: my anecdote is that a lot of the non-white clerks I've known clerked for non-white judges)
- mismatch theory: some people argue that the URM boost results in (at least) AA law students disproportionately ending up in the bottom of their law school classes, which would tend to depress minority hiring, given the importance of grades in the hiring process (I'm imprecise here because I think the studies focus on AA, and LSN etc. suggest that the boost is greatest for AAs, but I'm not sure if the studies address other minority groups).


Most inclined to agree with these two theories as a very general matter, although I might revise the first more broadly to "people tend to hire people who are like them" - not necessarily just "look like."

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:32 am

Overwhelming number of clerks I've met have been white (with the occasional Asian-American). They also overwhelmingly self-ifentify as "liberal." And this is on liberal circuits. It is a problem; I'm not sure how to solve.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby jd20132013 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:26 am

one way would be to stop the charade that there's not a sufficient pool because there aren't enough black applicants in the top 5 percent of their T6 classes, as if a top 30 percent person at Harvard or Columbia can't do everything a top 5 percent can do

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby Bach-City » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:31 am

.
Last edited by Bach-City on Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby runinthefront » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:37 am

jd20132013 wrote:one way would be to stop the charade that there's not a sufficient pool because there aren't enough black applicants in the top 5 percent of their T6 classes, as if a top 30 percent person at Harvard or Columbia can't do everything a top 5 percent can do

It's not really a charade, though. Individual judges just don't have diversity committees or the like. I'm sure many (considering they're mostly white, and mostly men) don't even think about the serious dearth of POC law clerks in the field.

The judges just get to decide what they think makes a good applicant. Many want top X% students from Top X schools because they actually do believe that a "top 30 percent at Harvard or Columbia can't do everything a top 5 percent can do." I don't think that's an unfair assumption, but that discussion has been hashed out in another thread.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby hdivschool » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:04 pm

FWIW, here are the executive boards of the ACS chapters at Harvard and Yale:

https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/acs/our-or ... the-board/
http://www.acsyls.org/current-student-board.html

Of the 40 or so people, only 1 appears to be black or latino/a.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby curry1 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:31 pm

This problem goes beyond "mismatch theory" etc. A study recently put out by YLS suggests that Asians at top schools get fed clerkships at less than 1/2 the rate of white applicants - and they certainly come in with equivalent entering stats (LSAT etc.) It's farcical to claim this is all because of federalist society domination. One possible explanation for some of the discrepancy for Asian-Americans applicants is that the typical image of a litigator is a white man, and Asians might self-select towards transactional practices where clerkships are of less use. However, there has to be some discrimination --implicit or otherwise. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... ePages.pdf

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:44 pm

curry1 wrote:This problem goes beyond "mismatch theory" etc. A study recently put out by YLS suggests that Asians at top schools get fed clerkships at less than 1/2 the rate of white applicants - and they certainly come in with equivalent entering stats (LSAT etc.) It's farcical to claim this is all because of federalist society domination. One possible explanation for some of the discrepancy for Asian-Americans applicants is that the typical image of a litigator is a white man, and Asians might self-select towards transactional practices where clerkships are of less use. However, there has to be some discrimination --implicit or otherwise. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... ePages.pdf

Where did anyone claim this? People have already raised the other points you made. (But I agree that mismatch theory doesn't fit for Asian-Americans and the numbers are disturbing.)

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby rpupkin » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:53 pm

curry1 wrote:This problem goes beyond "mismatch theory" etc. A study recently put out by YLS suggests that Asians at top schools get fed clerkships at less than 1/2 the rate of white applicants - and they certainly come in with equivalent entering stats (LSAT etc.)

I hesitate to wade into this topic based on anecdotal observation, but I've noticed—based on reviewing clerkship applications—that Asians are not well represented among the top students at the top law schools. I'm sure you're right that Asians enter law school with equivalent undergrad GPA/LSAT stats but, for whatever reason, white students appear to disproportionally get the top grades in law school classes.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby lolwat » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:08 pm

I think it's silly to claim there "has to be" discrimination. There very well may be, but there are always a million factors that have nothing to do with discrimination, too.

As far as I can remember years ago in law school and during my clerkship, my anecdotal experience tracks that of rpupkin's. I'm Asian and got a fair number of clerkship interviews once I fixed my shitty first semester GPA, and my school isn't one that places terribly well in clerkships despite being a t20. Other asians didn't even seem to be gunning for clerkships -- or even in a position to be doing so. We weren't a competitive bunch discussing grades all the time but the people on LR and those whom I knew were in the top 10% (LR had a grading on component so it was also an indicator of at least 1L grades) were overwhelmingly white people.

And while I wasn't the primary clerk reviewing applications during my clerkships, once we sorted the apps down based on a general criteria (top 10% in class at a generally good school -- with some occasional outlier of top 1% at low ranked school or whatnot), I don't think any Asians made it to our list even for interviewing. Nor did we ever discuss diversity at all; we just wanted to look for who the best (and perhaps also interesting) people would be on paper given our judge's criteria which had nothing to do with race. We ended up hiring a bunch of white people and one minority applicant who was at the top of their class at a lower ranked school (i mean literally the top 1 student).

And remember how professor calls go so far in clerkship hiring? There's kind of another layer that goes simply beyond paper credentials. If schools/profs disproportionately recommend white people or whatever. But that could also be a function of who actually takes the time to go make these connections with profs. I know it certainly took a while before I learned how important those connections could be.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby sanzgo » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:16 pm

curry1 wrote:This problem goes beyond "mismatch theory" etc. A study recently put out by YLS suggests that Asians at top schools get fed clerkships at less than 1/2 the rate of white applicants - and they certainly come in with equivalent entering stats (LSAT etc.) It's farcical to claim this is all because of federalist society domination. One possible explanation for some of the discrepancy for Asian-Americans applicants is that the typical image of a litigator is a white man, and Asians might self-select towards transactional practices where clerkships are of less use. However, there has to be some discrimination --implicit or otherwise. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... ePages.pdf


entering stats are hardly indicative of LS performance. a better study would be to compare asian-american applicants with top grades/top schools applying to clerkships with caucasian applicants with top grades/top schools applying to clerkships. even then, it's hardly perfect b/c getting clerkships is more than just about grades, the sample size may be too small to make any reasonably conclusive statistical result, etc.

like you said, i've noticed asians tend to self-select towards transactional practices but that's anecdotal, of course.

personally, my thoughts on this is that there is some discrimination by select judges but it's in no way a considerable barrier to attaining a clerkship as a POC. just look at the profile of a typical judge: white male in his 50-60s. when judges don't have anyone to answer to and they're hiring someone they're gonna have to be close with for an entire year and they pride themselves in being "above politics", you think they give a shit about improving diversity by hiring POC? it's not even necessarily about hiring the most qualified person; they're just going to pick the person they like the most out of the qualified people.

the ways in which you can make someone like you are infinite and often out of your control. if you're applying to a male judge and you're a very attractive Asian female applicant (who's qualified i.e. top school/top grades), your skin color is no longer a disadvantage and could actually be a boost, esp to judges like Kozinski (don't ask me how i know this). i'm sure you've heard of all the studies like how resumes with black/foreign-sounding names have a disadvantage, how male interviewers tend to ding attractive male applicants more often than they do non-attractive male applicants, etc. the point is, there are way too many factors and in the end and what matters the most is whether the judge LIKES you, which hardly depends only on race. basically, don't worry about it.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby curry1 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:55 pm

sanzgo wrote:
curry1 wrote:This problem goes beyond "mismatch theory" etc. A study recently put out by YLS suggests that Asians at top schools get fed clerkships at less than 1/2 the rate of white applicants - and they certainly come in with equivalent entering stats (LSAT etc.) It's farcical to claim this is all because of federalist society domination. One possible explanation for some of the discrepancy for Asian-Americans applicants is that the typical image of a litigator is a white man, and Asians might self-select towards transactional practices where clerkships are of less use. However, there has to be some discrimination --implicit or otherwise. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... ePages.pdf


entering stats are hardly indicative of LS performance. a better study would be to compare asian-american applicants with top grades/top schools applying to clerkships with caucasian applicants with top grades/top schools applying to clerkships. even then, it's hardly perfect b/c getting clerkships is more than just about grades, the sample size may be too small to make any reasonably conclusive statistical result, etc.

like you said, i've noticed asians tend to self-select towards transactional practices but that's anecdotal, of course.

personally, my thoughts on this is that there is some discrimination by select judges but it's in no way a considerable barrier to attaining a clerkship as a POC. just look at the profile of a typical judge: white male in his 50-60s. when judges don't have anyone to answer to and they're hiring someone they're gonna have to be close with for an entire year and they pride themselves in being "above politics", you think they give a shit about improving diversity by hiring POC? it's not even necessarily about hiring the most qualified person; they're just going to pick the person they like the most out of the qualified people.

the ways in which you can make someone like you are infinite and often out of your control. if you're applying to a male judge and you're a very attractive Asian female applicant (who's qualified i.e. top school/top grades), your skin color is no longer a disadvantage and could actually be a boost, esp to judges like Kozinski (don't ask me how i know this). i'm sure you've heard of all the studies like how resumes with black/foreign-sounding names have a disadvantage, how male interviewers tend to ding attractive male applicants more often than they do non-attractive male applicants, etc. the point is, there are way too many factors and in the end and what matters the most is whether the judge LIKES you, which hardly depends only on race. basically, don't worry about it.


Is this a joke? While lsat +gpa combo is not super predictive for individuals, it is for large groups (i.e Asian Americans). If we picked a top school that published honors graduates, I'm quite sure we would find a close match between the percentage of AA's enrolled and those with "top" grades - despite anecdata in this thread to the contrary. Another factor that might influence the perceived lack of Asian Americans in clerkships is that international students might be disproportionately Asian and counted as Asian American. International students would be unlikely to apply for fed clerkships regardless of grades, because they wouldn't be paid for their work.
Last edited by curry1 on Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:55 pm

.

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Re: Clerkships so white

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:02 pm

curry1 wrote:
sanzgo wrote:
curry1 wrote:This problem goes beyond "mismatch theory" etc. A study recently put out by YLS suggests that Asians at top schools get fed clerkships at less than 1/2 the rate of white applicants - and they certainly come in with equivalent entering stats (LSAT etc.) It's farcical to claim this is all because of federalist society domination. One possible explanation for some of the discrepancy for Asian-Americans applicants is that the typical image of a litigator is a white man, and Asians might self-select towards transactional practices where clerkships are of less use. However, there has to be some discrimination --implicit or otherwise. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... ePages.pdf


entering stats are hardly indicative of LS performance. a better study would be to compare asian-american applicants with top grades/top schools applying to clerkships with caucasian applicants with top grades/top schools applying to clerkships. even then, it's hardly perfect b/c getting clerkships is more than just about grades, the sample size may be too small to make any reasonably conclusive statistical result, etc.

like you said, i've noticed asians tend to self-select towards transactional practices but that's anecdotal, of course.

personally, my thoughts on this is that there is some discrimination by select judges but it's in no way a considerable barrier to attaining a clerkship as a POC. just look at the profile of a typical judge: white male in his 50-60s. when judges don't have anyone to answer to and they're hiring someone they're gonna have to be close with for an entire year and they pride themselves in being "above politics", you think they give a shit about improving diversity by hiring POC? it's not even necessarily about hiring the most qualified person; they're just going to pick the person they like the most out of the qualified people.

the ways in which you can make someone like you are infinite and often out of your control. if you're applying to a male judge and you're a very attractive Asian female applicant (who's qualified i.e. top school/top grades), your skin color is no longer a disadvantage and could actually be a boost, esp to judges like Kozinski (don't ask me how i know this). i'm sure you've heard of all the studies like how resumes with black/foreign-sounding names have a disadvantage, how male interviewers tend to ding attractive male applicants more often than they do non-attractive male applicants, etc. the point is, there are way too many factors and in the end and what matters the most is whether the judge LIKES you, which hardly depends only on race. basically, don't worry about it.


Is this a joke? While lsat +gpa combo is not super predictive for individuals, it is for large groups (i.e Asian Americans). If we picked a top school that published honors graduates, I'm quite sure we would find a close match between the percentage of AA's enrolled and those with "top" grades - despite anecdata in this thread to the contrary. Another factor that might influence the perceived lack of Asian Americans in clerkships is that international students might be disproportionately Asian and counted as Asian American. International students would be unlikely to apply for fed clerkships regardless of grades, because they wouldn't be paid for their work.


So I also assumed this would be the case, but it didn't bear out in my graduating class at a T14. Every single person that made order of the coif in my graduating year was white (to the best of my knowledge and i personally know all the people). There were asians and other POC who clerked (some for great judges) but every single person who graduated coif was white.




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