Law firms and the downside of 'aggressive racial preferences' Here is a devastating statistic on racial preferences: Blacks account for only 1 or 2 percent of law students with high grades, yet they make up 8 percent of lawyers hired by large law firms. Why are blacks hired by the large firms at four to eight times the rate that their marks seem to warrant? Because the understandable pressures to hire more black lawyers result in offers to many blacks who understandably cannot keep pace with the faster-track competition. Young black lawyers leave big firms at two to three times the rate of whites. Those who stay are often consigned to grunt work that their bosses think they can handle. Richard Sander, a UCLA law professor, wrote a piece in 2004 in the Stanford Law Review showing how racial preferences backfire against black students. Now, according to Stuart Taylor Jr., the excellent legal columnist at National Journal, Sanders has written another strong article on the subject to be published soon in the North Carolina Law Review. Taylor writes: "Many capable African-Americans experience frustration and failure because racial preferences thrust them into elite settings where they compete with whites with far better qualifications." Sander's forthcoming piece will be titled "The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm." The paradox is that "aggressive racial preferences" at the law-school and law-firm level tend to undermine the careers of blacks and thus cause the failure of the whole preferential system. The core of the problem is the small number of blacks who emerge from high school with strong academic skills. Taylor writes that at least 46 percent of black lawyers at large firms had law-school grade-point averages below 3.25, compared with 14 percent of whites. At law schools, preferences ensure that black students are clustered near the bottom of their classes, with only 8 percent ranking in the top half. Sander and Taylor acknowledge that bias may play some role at large law firms but cannot account for the high rate of failure. Taylor writes: "Why would the same firms that use aggressive racial preferences to bring in minorities then turn around and discriminate against them?" Taylor reports that 56 percent of black lawyers at large firms admitted thinking that their race or ethnicity had been relatively important in winning them job offers. This is significant because testimony at a hearing in Washington yesterday seemed to point generally in the opposite direction. David Bernstein, law professor and outstanding legal blogger at Volokh Conspiracy, reports that he and Sander expressed concerns that many "diversity" candidates at law schools "have no idea regarding the extent of the preferences they receive or how they might affect their chances of successfully completing law school and passing the bar exam." The Civil Rights Commission is conducting hearings on a proposed and wayward American Bar Association policy that would in effect require law schools to use racial preferences in admission or risk the loss of their accreditation. Another pressure for more preferences leading to more weak admissions and more failure.