Law: Sorority Racist?



Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right it’s racist but it’s sorority racist.

“We like you Rhonda but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is but things are changing.

– Chris Rock, the Oscars

Some law firms hide behind the label of “fit” to mask racism. This racism may be conscious or unconscious. Either way, “fit” is used to justify discrimination. The way sorority girls use “fit” to sort out potential sisters during rush. I should know. I used to be in a sorority.

The statistics on race reveal that racism or a covert form of racism, like “sorority racism”, is at play. In the article “Women and Minorities at Law Firms by Race and Ethnicity – An Update“, The National Association for Law Placement presented the numbers for minorities in American law firms:

For instance, among all employers listed in the 2013-2014 NALP Directory of Legal Employers, just 7.10% of partners were minorities and 2.26% of partners were minority women. Moreover, many offices report no minority partners at all. And, in fact, although the most recent information shows that minority representation among associates as a whole has increased for three years in a row after declining from 2009 to 2010, a more detailed look reveals that the lion’s share of the increase has been and can continue to be attributed to an increase in Asian associates. Meanwhile, representation of Blacks/African-Americans among associates has slid for four years in a row.

Table 1. Women and Minorities at Law Firms in 2013 &mdash Nationwide by Type of Attorney

% Minority % Minority Women Total % % Women Total % % Women Total % % Women
Partners 49,785 7.10% 2.26% 2.67% 0.91% 1.78% 0.60% 1.99% 0.54%
Associates 45,808 20.93 11.29 10.48 5.64 4.10 2.43 3.82 1.89
Counsel 10,287 8.14 3.69 3.49 1.69 1.82 0.77 2.14 0.92
Staff Attorneys 2,392 22.0 14.38 8.36 5.31 7.57 5.39 4.01 2.47
Other Attorneys 1,877 12.63 7.09 4.37 2.45 2.61 1.86 3.36 1.76

Figures are based on 1,127 offices/firms covering a total of 110,149 lawyers.

Do the statistics reveal “sorority racism” at play? Is there any other way to interpret the numbers?

My critique of the article is that it does not reveal the demographics of law students to measure attrition. However, I note that in the United States the Bar exam is the gatekeeper, whereas in Canada it is the law schools.

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