Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Here are first few paragraphs of an article dealing specifically with law school hiring practices:
Journal of Legal Education
March, 1992
Diversity Issue
Jeffrey L. Harrison [FNa1]
Copyright © 1992 by the Association of American Law Schools; Jeffrey L.
WESTLAW LAWPRAC INDEXLED--Law School & Continuing Legal EducationLHT--Hiring, Training & DevelopmentI telephoned an old friend the other day at another law school. "What's up?" I asked."Faculty retreat," he replied."Sorry to hear it. Any topic, or just a weekend of touchy-feely?""Serious business," he said. "The theme is 'Recruiting for Diversity.' One session on race, one on gender.""What about class--you know, poor and working-class candidates?""Are you kidding?" he responded. "Too important."This conversation and a recent article in which Duncan Kennedy writes that law schools, when hiring faculty, "should abide by the general democratic principle that people should be represented in institutions that have power over their lives" [FN1] explain the timing of this essay, but the idea is one I have thought about for years. The issue of faculty recruitment hits me and, I am sure, everyone else hardest in the fall when the AALS packets arrive. I go through the sketchy information on each form searching for candidates that would bring diversity to our faculty. I look for minorities, [FN2] but I also look for candidates with a solid blue-collar or working-class background. [FN3] I do this because I favor faculty diversity and believe it is defined too narrowly. Although I cannot support my claim with the sort of empirical evidence that would satisfy a social scientist (or those predisposed to disagree with the analysis that follows), [FN4] I have the distinct impression that people with working-class backgrounds are not found in our profession *120 in anything close to the same proportion as they are in society. [FN5] Further, current efforts to improve diversity are far too exclusionary to be responsive to what I believe to be a pervasive class bias. [FN6] Surely a truly diverse and representative faculty would include far more than a smattering of men and women who have grown up in a working-class culture.Those readers who have not rejected my position out of hand but remain skeptical may ask, "But what do those people offer?" I have two responses. First, this is the wrong question. It seems to have put things backwards. The burden of proof should be on those who favor the current deviation from democratic representation. The very question--"But what do those people offer?"--presupposes that those from privileged classes are somehow entitled to law teaching positions. Second, a great deal of evidence suggests that class has an impact on one's sense of justice, expectations, and self-esteem. [FN7] Class-based differences on matters of such fundamental importance offer tremendous potential for different perspectives in research and approaches to teaching. In many instances, an increase in class diversity would mean an increased likelihood that professors and students would have a common experiential base from which to work. [FN8] In addition, it would offer a "reality check" for law professors who have been sheltered from the wrong side of our lopsided economy. [FN9]The causes of the underrepresentation of this particular group in legal education include not only such societal filters as ignorant or indifferent teachers, parents, and guidance counselors, economic barriers, and a *121 learned lack of aspirations but also a faculty selection process that places no value on what working class people offer. [FN10] It is not that those who run our system of legal education have not read in their undergraduate textbooks about the impacts and injuries of class. They simply are unable or unwilling to consider this version of diversity as something that would enrich legal education.

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