No one disputes the facts: i.e. that very few minorities have achieved partnership at the top law firms in the country. But the explanation for this reality is hotly disputed. A law professor at UCLA has ignited passions with a study that concludes that hiring practices are to blame (i.e. that in an effort to open up door for more minorities, law firms relax their academic standards when making offers to minority candidates.)
According to an article in today’s NY Times (free subscription required), many dispute his findings and attribute the lack of minority partners to a lack of mentoring and a system of assigning work which leaves minority associates at a disadvantage. Others point to the fact that top minority lawyers are being recruited heavily by corporations for in-house counsel positions. Whatever the explanation is, it is clear that recruiting minorities out of law school is by itself insufficient to create long term diversity at a firm. Firms need to invest in cultivating minority talent long after the recruiting process is over.