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Stanford Student's Website Pressures Firms To Improve Diversity

Publication Date: 
December 03, 2007
Source: 
Lawyers USA
Author: 
Justin Rebello

Professor Michele Landis Dauber, advisor to a Building a Better Legal Profession ( www.betterlegalprofession.org), a student group that recently quantified the diversity of law firms in major markets, is quoted in Lawyers USA:

According to Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor and faculty advisor for the project, the website's growing popularity is changing the dynamics between students and employers during on-campus interviews.

"It's a radically altered terrain, in that the burden is shifted to the employer to explain these rankings to the student," said Dauber.

After speaking with a partner from a major firm that scored poorly on the site, Dauber learned the firm was preparing for its on-campus interviews with an emphasis on diversity days and events as promotional resources.

...

"Before, if a young woman was interviewing with a prospective firm, she might want to ask how many women are associates and partners at that firm, and if they worked part-time to have kids. That question itself is discrediting. It pretty much lets the employer know you're going to have kids."

Dauber added the site allows a student to cross-reference if a firm is really as diverse as it claims.

"If you have an on-campus interview and the firm sends three black partners, the student leaves with the impression the firm has a lot of diversity. Now, you can check the website and see they have three black partners and that's all of them. It creates scrutiny on whether [the firm] is living up to its professed aims."

...

"Boston scores the absolute worst on racial diversity," said Dauber. "Half the Boston firms have no black partners. You wonder how they see their roles in the community. Harvard Law has one of the largest black [student] populations, so they can't blame it on a pipeline issue."