Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Are Asian-American Lawyers Too Nerdy to Get to the Top?

NAPABAThe Careerist, Asian American Lawyers: Still Too Nerdy to Get to the Top?, by Vivia Chen:

Asian Pacific American ... lawyers are dweebs. In other words, APAs have a reputation of working their tails off, which gets them to the right law schools and the right firms. But then what happens? They get stuck because they lack that je-ne-sais-quoi to get to the next level. (Asian Americans make up only 2.5% of all partners in the Am Law 200.) ...

[H]ow do most tiger cubs fare? Not so well, according to the panelists, which included Javade Chaudhri, GC of Sempra Energy; Wilson Chu, partner at K&L Gates; Don Liu, GC of Xerox Corporation; Linda Lu , associate GC of Allstate Inc.; Larry Tu, GC of Dell; and me. ... 

The upshot of the discussion: Emphasizing high academic achievement is myopic because it overlooks the soft skills that propel people to the top ranks. "Like I tell my daughter," said K&L Gates's Chu, "it's just as important to know how to read people as it is to know how to read books."

[T]here was quite a bit of chest-pounding about whether the fixation on academic excellence is making Asian Americans into ideal associates who can't morph to leaders. Are APAs too deferential to authority and too quiet about blowing their own horn? The audience said yes.

But the problem is that Asians just can't help themselves when it comes to academic obsession.

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What a childish and idiotically provocative thesis. I'm so tired of journalists trolling their audience for attention. Disgraceful.

Posted by: anon | Nov 26, 2011 9:57:38 AM

Geeks usually are people who do not like change of any kind, or anything that annoys them much and detracts from their mission.

They also tend to be happy with what they have once they settled into a routine, as long as it's good enough and life works fine, why change it?

Regards the statistical bias, it may just be that many Asian geeks choose law over IT/engineering because of family expectation. There is no shortage of geeks of any nationality/race/etc though, and usually, they don't run the world but ensure that it works as everyone expects it to... 8():

Geekness is directable to some extend -- if Frank Zappa had never know that music exists he would have excelled at something else, this kind of drive can only be directed(a little), but not contained (and that's a good thing!) And their mission can also be addictive, just because it's called 'work' and is (usually) wholesome it doesn't mean that it does not engulf a persons' mind totally. Do you think that Fisher ever stopped thinking about chess in some way? Or course not, that kind of thought stream in the mind is like a tinnitus, it never stops once it's up an running. So hot-housing does define the direction early on and it's a factor to consider -- geeks usually start to get hooked young onto their mission in life.


@anon: there is no shame in being interested in the intricacies of other cultures at all, it's a good thing because it teaches. And if Asians were not different to Black people we would not use different terms to identify them.

It's good we're all that different, it's humanities one big strong point :) You just have to get over the idea that anyone is a better human being because they excel at something, why be envious of the admirable?

Posted by: Hexe Froschbein | Nov 26, 2011 12:13:27 PM

Stuff like this is fun for a while, but it can have some nasty results, there's a country in Europe than ran into trouble over stereotypes like this (begins with a G . . . )

Posted by: mike livingston | Nov 27, 2011 2:11:53 AM