October 30, 2007

Stanford Law grades employers

The New York Times has a column about an effort by students at Stanford Law School to grade prospective employers on their diversity.Apparently not many firms did that well. They looked at gender, racial, and sexual diversity.I have a couple of issues with this.First of all, Stanford Law's students might be diverse, but these students are all studying in one of the whitest areas in the US from a faculty that is not setting setting any example with its diversity. I don't know about you, but I don't tend to take my advice on diversity from residents of Menlo Park and Palo Alto (both are about 75% white in a state that is about 48% white).Second, I find it ironic that the students have chosen such a strict grading scheme. Perhaps they might want to average around a 3.4 (the highest among their peers) like their professors do in their classes. Then everyone would do a lot better.Third, the article floats the idea that this diversity committee is considering not allowing firms to come interview that score poorly. I'm not sure why they think isolating the firms that aren't diverse is the best way to create diversity. I mean, I could go off on this, but this is really just the the ROTC issue all over again, except even dumber, because the firms aren't even actively discriminating.Now, I'm not trying to be an apologist for discrimination. If there is discrimination going on in these firms then it should be stopped. But, it is silly to just assume that a lack of diversity is because of discrimination. That is a fine hypothesis, but it's one you should test before going the paternalism route. Especially when the competitive nature of the market for lawyers probably makes the luxury of discriminating quite costly.