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Law Students: Traditional Notions
Building a Better Legal Profession (really?)
Of course, we all know that while a good number of the people who are admitted to Stanford Law are really, really smart, some of them are going to end up being fairly useless. For example, take the Stanford students behind Building A Better Legal Profession, a supposedly "national grassroots organization" dedicated to "reforming the legal profession" (which seems to mean not making corporate lawyers work so hard, and increasing diversity among associates and partners at BigLaw firms).
My main critiques:
1) You are not "grassroots." You are enrolled at Stanford Law.
2) BigLaw is not "the legal profession." Less than 10% of lawyers work in the AmLaw 100. Only a Stanford student would think that their rarified air was "the legal profession."
3) Poor, poor corporate lawyers. I am amazed by some law students' passion. Even during their first year, many students are active in organizations that advocate on behalf of the poor, or work for political candidates, or lobby on behalf of equality under the law. That is why I am completely unimpressed by people who are dedicated to making life easier for corporate lawyers from elite schools. You're gonna get paid almost 200K (with bonuses) your first year.... quit yer whining. Nobody cares.
4) Cross-register for a statistics class: The group posts "rankings" of law firms based on their supposed performance on a number of indicators. At the moment, they seem to only focus on diversity rankings, and made a big splash in the media when they released these rankings over the summer. I'll admit, increasing diversity in corporate law firms is somewhat more worthwhile than the general "better legal profession" schtick, but if you are going to rank firms, make sure you know what you are talking about.
For example, one of their main statistical analyses is measuring the "female opportunity gap" between associates and partners. Presumably, this ranking is offered to show how poorly a firm performs at promoting women. But the statistical method is flawed. I doubt the percentage of female partners vs. the percentage of female associates is in any reliable way correlated to a firm's willingness to promote women (there are many other factors intervening, not least of which is what percentage of associates that are promoted to partner regardless of gender). For example, look at Baker and McKenzie in Northern California. They have far and away the highest percentage of female partners (32.7%) and are a close second in highest number of female associates (60.7%, behind Morgan Lewis' 61.6%). But, they rank 6th, right behind Skadden, which has 28.6% female associates and 16.7% female partners!
Since these clowns decided that weighing the amount of female partners against the amount of female associates somehow would serve as a proxy for whether a firm was doing a good job of promoting women, if anyone actually gave a hoot about these rankings, the best way to improve your ranking would be clear: decrease the amount of women you hire as associates!
Of course, not much should be expected when you describe your ranking methodology as cut, paste and rank. But, you guys go to Stanford: even if you are in law school and thus innumerate, you are embarrassing Sergei and Larry. If you spent half the time on your analysis than you apparently did on taking artistic photos of yourselves and making a ruckus in the press (in my opinion, seems more about self-promotion than anything else), maybe your rankings would have some degree of relevancy. If you are going to make a public claim that your rankings should mean anything whatsoever, then you must rank responsibly.
5) Capitalization. You are law students. Learn to use capital letters. Yes, I know you don't have to and law firms will still slobber all over you in hopes that someday one of your classmates will give you work, but try to pretend that you are serious people.
UPDATE: And look at that curve! BABLP ranks firms by quintiles and applies the standard A through F rating, with A's going to the top quintile and F's to the bottom quintile. Coming from students at the law school with perhaps the most grade inflation of them all (a whopping 3.4 median), isn't that a bit harsh?
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