What Could Disrupt Diversity in Law? The Economy, Stupid.

diversity“It ain’t happened yet, and that’s what intuition is.” – Kanye West

In the 1997 movie The Devil’s Advocate, Al Pacino’s character (aptly named John Milton) asks Keanu Reeves’s character (Kevin Lomax), “Did you know there are more students in law school than lawyers walking the Earth?” With an estimated average of 44,000 students graduating per year, there are six new lawyers battling for every job. In 1971, there was one lawyer for every 572 Americans. By 2000, there was one lawyer for every 264 Americans. The legal sector tripled between 1970 and 1987, but has grown at an average annual inflation-adjusted rate of only 1.2% since 1988. Perhaps the recent drop in law school attendance will improve this ratio (if the demand remains unaffected). How will the “new normal” affect diversity in Biglaw and the legal industry in general?

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‘The Gilded Age of Biglaw’: Biglaw Culture Breeds Big Bonuses, But Little Diversity

“To whom much is given, much is tested / Get arrested, guess until he get the message” –Kanye West

upset asian lawyer

In his 1936 DNC Renomination Speech, Franklin Delano Roosevelt pronounced, “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”  From the Great Depression to World War II; from The Great Gatsby to Pearl Harbor; from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boomers; and from Generation X to the Millennials, it is damn near impossible to comprehend everything FDR’s generation has been through and witnessed. It is no wonder why Tom Brokaw named FDR’s contemporaries as the “Greatest Generation.”

There is much progress to be made in our society to be sure, but over the last 100 years we have endured so much, learned so much, and have evolved into a much more civil society. Growing up, I remember my dad was always watching Peter Jennings.

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