30.10.07

THOUGHT OF THE DAY. Courtesy Candace de Russy at Phi Beta Cons.

Some law students at Stanford are meting out “diversity report cards” to top law firms, ranking them by how many female, minority and gay lawyers they have hired.

Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a research group that supports colorblind policies, is of course right in calling this grading exercise harmful. “Diversity is all too frequently a code word,” he said, “for preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex, or lower standards, or being opposed to assimilation.”

Is the job market for new associates so buoyant that law students can engage in such behavior? In the 1960s, the criterion many newly minted lawyers used for accepting employment was whether or not the firm offered pro bono opportunities, defined in those days as being able to use company time to obtain draft deferments for high schoolers or expanded welfare benefits for chronically unemployable people.

Picking up Mr Clegg's observation: just once I'd like the diversity advocates to spell out precisely their trade-off between quality and inclusiveness. (If there is no such trade-off, there ought be no controversy over hiring for diversity.)

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