How execute You Know If Law School Hiring Committees Are Serious About Diversity?
How Do You Know If Law School Hiring Committees Are Serious About Diversity?
Hello, Diversity and Inclusion Committee members,
It’s time once again to discuss diversity in academic hiring. Rather than pay lip service, I thought it would be useful to figure out whether hiring committee cares about diversity or not. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell.
Here’s some things that I personally would love to know to determine whether law school hiring committees give a care about diversity, apart from their own promises:
The alma mater of people interviewed for each position.
Demographic data (gender, race, socioeconomic status) for each candidate.
Listed position (curricular need, “best athlete,” legal writing, clinical).
Data regarding the overall candidate population within each slot. More specifically, what’s the relevant applicant pool look like, as compared with the overall applicant pool in the faculty appointments register.
At the school level, some accountability. That might mean random screening of the applicant pool/faculty appointments register by independent reviewers. If candidates appear missed, explanation by the committee about why apparently qualified was looked over.
Data on search terms used by the hiring committees in searching FAR. Some claim to read every FAR form. Data would include what those committee members are searching for when they read those FAR forms. Also, data on interview rounds and flybacks including school, race, and gender.
Data about long-term trends in hiring at the university at large versus the law school. Just to see how far off the law school is.
To assure equity, data about what information was communicated to each candidate about the position. Was there a script used by every faculty member on the committee?
Job talk equity. Was there a standard format? Was it communicated to the candidate? Was it communicated to the faculty?
Was faculty feedback on job talks disaggregated in a score sheet, or where aggregate scores used?
We do know some of this data. We know who was hired. But that doesn’t tell the story of the search itself, or the biases that may be at play in those hiring committees. It doesn’t tell the story of the overlooked and ignored in the hiring process. Such data collection might be quite helpful in not only monitoring school hiring practices, but also informing potential candidates of the less transparent obstacles they face.
I’m curious to see what results we would discover. Perhaps, some law schools will prove stunningly elitist or otherwise seem to magically find uniquely homogenous pockets of legal scholars. Perhaps others will be quite diverse in all types of hiring, except for tenure-track faculty.
Do I think we will ever see that level of transparency? No. Not at all.
Which is funny. Because law schools seem to like to share data about their incoming students. They seem very keen to proudly display how diverse their student body is, how many different countries they come from, how many different and diverse skills and educational experiences they bring to the table.
It’s just that such enthusiasms stop when faculty hiring is the focus, particularly when it comes to tenure-track faculty hiring.
LawProfBlawg is an anonymous professor at a top 100 law school. You can see more of his musings here. He is way funnier on social media, he claims. Please follow him on Twitter (@lawprofblawg). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.