I had a small role in an event where Richard Sander (along with some other leading legal empiricists) presented a paper for the North Carolina Law Review's 2005 Symposium this last October, Empirical Studies of the Legal Profession. The finished written work of the Symposium is coming out soon, and Sander is already causing controversy for his theories. Sander gathers data that shows that Blacks are hired at large law firms at a higher rate than their class ranking and other credentials would predict and that Blacks are less happy and less likely to succeed once they are hired. Sander then theorizes that the paradox of aggressive hiring and unhappy Blacks once they are working at the firm is a result of mismatch. Not being published yet, I am not a liberty to discuss more details on his current thesis; however, he published a similar theory on law school admission and Black performance where he stated:
What I find and describe in this Article is a system of racial preferences that, in one realm after another, produces more harms than benefits for its putative beneficiaries. The admission preferences extended to blacks are very large and do not successfully identify students who will perform better than one would predict based on their academic indices. Consequently, most black law applicants end up at schools where they will struggle academically and fail at higher rates than they would in the absence of preferences. The net trade-off of higher prestige but weaker academic performance substantially harms black performance on bar exams and harms most new black lawyers on the job market. Perhaps most remarkably, a strong case can be made that in the legal education system as a whole, racial preferences end up producing fewer black lawyers each year than would be produced by a race-blind system. Affirmative action as currently practiced by the nation’s law schools does not, therefore, pass even the easiest test one can set. In systemic, objective terms, it hurts the group it is most designed to help.
I am undecided on this issue but thought that I should post it here for some discussion; in part because I had a small part in it, but also, it was posted about on the US News and World Reports blog