That Greatest of Academic Concerns: Insufficient Diversity

by George Leef

A recent Chronicle article covers a recent symposium on that most horrific of problems, an inadequate level of diversity. The focus of this particular symposium was insufficient diversity in the legal profession. A revealing quotation: “Our profession is among the least diverse in the country,” said Conrad A. Johnson, a panelist and clinical professor at Columbia. “If we maintain the current status quo, we will find ourselves falling further and further behind if our goal is to obtain parity with the general population.”

Why should that be a goal of law schools or of the legal profession? If someone wants a good estate-planning attorney, he doesn’t care about the ancestry of the best estate planners he might choose, much less the diversity of the whole legal profession. The law profs who fret about “parity with the general population” have a central-planning mentality that’s common among academics, but is completely irrelevant to decisionmakers in the real world.

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