Monday, July 19, 2010
America’s legal professoriate does not appear to be particularly diverse. Recent studies have revealed that a majority of law professors are male, Caucasian, and attended law school at one of only a handful of law schools. To date, however, no scholars have examined one of the potentially most influential characteristics of new law professors who play an important role in shaping the law – their political ideology. Utilizing a unique dataset, this explorative study begins to remedy that deficiency by empirically measuring the political ideology of entry-level candidates to law schools between 2005-2009.
Using regression analysis, we find no statistically significant relationship between political ideology and prestige of hiring, although we identify a very large discrepancy between the proportion of new professors that can clearly be identified as liberal or conservative and those whose ideology is less clear. We argue that this discrepancy indicates either unequal hiring patterns or an academic environment at law schools that is less than conducive to openness and free debate. Further research is needed to test these hypotheses and to identify a remedy that will increase the intellectual diversity of American law schools, with ripple effects on the development of law in the United States and in the world.
(Hat Tip: Danny Sokol.)
- ABA Journal, Researchers Who Studied Newly Hired Law Profs Found 52 Liberals, 8 Conservatives
- Above the Law, Liberal Bias in Legal Education: Does it Exist? Does it Matter? An ATL Debate
- Inside Higher Ed, Law School Hiring Leans Left, Study Finds
- National Law Journal, Study: Law School Hiring Skews Liberal, but Liberals Don't Get All the Key Jobs
- Volokh Conspiracy, Questions About a New Study on Political Diversity in Law Schools
- Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Study: Not All Law Profs Are Liberals (But Most Are)