How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

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How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:19 pm

As a white guy, I generally have not been one to post about these kind of topics (partially because, until recently, it hasn't been on my radar and partially because I've always been worried that I'd stick my foot in my mouth). That being said, the recent series that the National Law Journal released about diversity in clerkship hiring struck me (see coverage/summer here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/vol ... fc2d2106c4). After reading it, I spoke with the head of my clerkship office and they showed me some even more alarming numbers. On the SCOTUS, CoA, and District Level, Black, Hispanic, and Asian students are significantly less likely to get clerkships. (Note: I know that there is a thread discussing diversity in clerkship hiring in general, see viewtopic.php?f=34&t=280779, but I think this is an important enough topic and that the numbers are striking enough that we can dedicate more than one thread to the nuances of the issue).

As most (if not all) of us know, clerkships are incredibly valuable, especially for a young lawyer. Beyond affording one a different/presumptive level of respect, clerkships give lawyers (again, especially young lawyers) access to groups (at firms) and divisions (in government) that are, for all intents and purposes, closed to those who did not clerk--think appellate groups/staffs/divisions.

Of course, there are a variety of reasons why clerkships are so homogenous--e.g. grades, RAing, TAing, publications, personal relationship with professors). But the numbers of minority clerks have been so consistently low, that it is about time that we stop shrugging our shoulders and saying: "Well, there could be countless reasons for the low number of minority clerks." It's a lame way to handle this problem. Instead, we need to isolate the most likely culprits of the "countless reasons" and figure out how best/most fairly to address it.

I have tried my best to isolate law review leadership and, as imperfect as my methodology was, I have aimed to see 1) racial/ethnic/gender diversity among law review leadership and 2)the extent to which law review leadership predicts clerkship access. Needless to say, there are factors that correlate with leadership (getting on law review means that you have likely done well in your first year and that too is an indicator of probability of landing a clerkship), but if we compare just the folks on law review, we have a better chance of accounting for some of those other variables.

Again, after speaking with my clerkship office, they noted that law review improves an individuals chances of landing a clerkship in the four following levels: (1) getting on to law review significantly improves one's chances of getting a clerkship, (2) attaining a named position on law review (Articles Editors, Note Editor, etc) further improves one's chances of getting a clerkship, (3) securing a leadership position on law review again increases the chances that an individual will be able to get a clerkship (though it is up for argument to what extent), and (4) getting elected to be President/EIC of Law Review substantially improves one's chances of landing a clerkship.

These positions are selected by fellow law reviewers (whether that is the exiting class or the law review as a whole). Law reviews have improved over the past several years at incorporating diversity in their general membership selections (e.g. adding personal statements and, for some, even adding diversity as an explicit consideration factor). It does not appear, however, that that improvement has been reflected in the selection of leadership, which is surprising if you consider that the number of minorities and women have increased as a result of general, diversity efforts.

President/Editor-In-Chief in the T4 Law Reviews Race, Gender, Clerkship Breakdown

Yale
White: 17 Black: 1 Hispanic: 0 Asian 2 Men 13 Women 7 Clerkship 18

Stanford
White: 17 Black: 1 Hispanic: 1 Asian 1 Men 14 Women 6 Clerkship 13

Harvard
White: 16 Black: 1 Hispanic: 1 Asian 2 Men 14 Women 6 Clerkship 17

Chicago
White: 18 Black: 0 Hispanic: 0 Asian 2 Men 15 Women 5 Clerkship 19

Columbia
White: 9 Black: 1 Hispanic: 1 Asian 9 Men 9 Women 11 Clerkship 18

One should note that Asians do not do well with clerkships, but every Asian who was editor-in-chief of a T4 law review, attained a clerkship. This might suggest that law review leadership has at least some counteractive effect on clerkships.

Columbia has done well with gender diversity and Asians also do well there. But, like all of the schools except for Harvard (President Obama), Columbia has had 0 black men serve as editor-in-chief. The four black, T4 editors-in-chief in the past 20 years have all been black women (one at every school except for Chicago). There have only been three hispanic people to serve as editor-in-chief of a T4 law review in the past 20 years, two of whom were men and the other of whom was a woman. The split is pretty even among Asians male and female editors-in-chief, with slightly more male Asians serving at the top spot. White men dominate most of the editors-in-chief lists, with white women trailing behind; I didn't even both going beyond 20 years because after that it is essentially all white men.

I am not advocating for affirmative action in the selection of law review Presidents/EICs, but I do think it is important that we do not fool ourselves: law review President/EIC/Amind/Exec/Editorial Board selections are largely popularity contests. Whether we know it or not, or like to admit it or not, our decisions for President/EIC/and our Boards carry a lot of weight.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dabigchina
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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby dabigchina » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:28 pm

I have nothing to add, except you seem to have repeated several paragraphs.

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jbagelboy
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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:33 pm

In my experience applying for and reviewing federal clerkship applications, as well as interviewing candidates coming off clerkships, only your (1) and to a lesser extent (4) are really important for clerkship applications. Which is to say, being on the premier law review/journal is important, and if you make EIC that stands out as a boost, but really no one who matters gives two shits about notes editor or managing editor or “senior” edit or whatever else.

In broad strokes, you’re absolutely right: there’s a painful lack of diversity in elite clerkships. And much of it is absolutely systemic: white male profs writing and grading exams, writing letters of recommendation to write male judges. The stylized bullshit performance metrics don’t help; but they happen to be how judges evaluate candidates. The magna cum laude at HLS released last year showed a distressing disparity between men and women and an absurd disparity between white/asian and other minorities relative to their general population at the law school. I do question your methodology, because I don’t think law review—and especially the minutae of particular law review positions—is of much significance. Still, an important issue in the profession.

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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:19 am

jbagelboy wrote:In my experience applying for and reviewing federal clerkship applications, as well as interviewing candidates coming off clerkships, only your (1) and to a lesser extent (4) are really important for clerkship applications. Which is to say, being on the premier law review/journal is important, and if you make EIC that stands out as a boost, but really no one who matters gives two shits about notes editor or managing editor or “senior” edit or whatever else.


(1) and (2) are about the same from my perspective, but I tend to think of (3) as a boost in reviewing applications. It isn't a game changer, but between similarly qualified applicants it makes a difference. Otherwise nothing to add.

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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby Hikikomorist » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:28 am

jbagelboy wrote:In my experience applying for and reviewing federal clerkship applications, as well as interviewing candidates coming off clerkships, only your (1) and to a lesser extent (4) are really important for clerkship applications. Which is to say, being on the premier law review/journal is important, and if you make EIC that stands out as a boost, but really no one who matters gives two shits about notes editor or managing editor or “senior” edit or whatever else.

In broad strokes, you’re absolutely right: there’s a painful lack of diversity in elite clerkships. And much of it is absolutely systemic: white male profs writing and grading exams, writing letters of recommendation to write male judges. The stylized bullshit performance metrics don’t help; but they happen to be how judges evaluate candidates. The magna cum laude at HLS released last year showed a distressing disparity between men and women and an absurd disparity between white/asian and other minorities relative to their general population at the law school. I do question your methodology, because I don’t think law review—and especially the minutae of particular law review positions—is of much significance. Still, an important issue in the profession.

With blind grading, I'm not sure why the bolded would have a significant impact.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:14 am

You could argue that white male profs will tend to prefer answers like theirs would be. Not sure how far I’d argue exam answers are gendered/racialized, but it’s possible.

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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby jbagelboy » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:26 am

FWIW, I would put more weight on the relationship-driven aspect of successful clerkship applications and the tendency of an overwhelmingly white male faculty to gravitate toward white male students. Letters, emails, phone calls, and generally having people supporting you are a big deal. Grading is a different ballgame. There may be some structural issues inherent in how exams are prepared, but that's going a bit out on a limb. There are other elements of performance that are not blind graded, especially in 2L/3L. More likely explanations for 1L grade disparities are input values such as LSAT scores, but that's wading into the sort of discussion that's generally discouraged here

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Re: How LR EIC/President Selections Affect Clerkship Diversity

Postby lolwat » Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:22 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:You could argue that white male profs will tend to prefer answers like theirs would be. Not sure how far I’d argue exam answers are gendered/racialized, but it’s possible.


True, but I don't think a young white male going into a law school classroom necessarily has an inherent advantage in knowing how to answer a question the way an old white male professor likes. By the time everyone gets to law school, especially one of the top ones, they've already generally gone to a good college and done well there.

FWIW, I would put more weight on the relationship-driven aspect of successful clerkship applications and the tendency of an overwhelmingly white male faculty to gravitate toward white male students. Letters, emails, phone calls, and generally having people supporting you are a big deal.


This seems likely, yes.

I am not advocating for affirmative action in the selection of law review Presidents/EICs, but I do think it is important that we do not fool ourselves: law review President/EIC/Amind/Exec/Editorial Board selections are largely popularity contests. Whether we know it or not, or like to admit it or not, our decisions for President/EIC/and our Boards carry a lot of weight.


LR board membership is a popularity contest, but how do people get on LR to begin with at those schools? If LR membership itself is mostly white and mostly male, then it probably makes a lot of statistical sense why the vast majority of EICs are also mostly white and mostly male.




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