Law360, BigLaw Eyes HBCUs, But Rankings Mindset Still Prevails:
Last year's widespread cries for racial justice in the U.S. resulted in an outpouring of commitment from law firms both to the advancement of racial justice and to their own, internal diversity and inclusion efforts.
That appears to have translated into more BigLaw recruiting activities at some of the nation's six law schools [District of Columbia, Florida A&M, Howard, North Carolina Central, Southern, Texas Southern] within historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. But the interest appears to have been limited, and increased recruiting activity did not always translate into jobs.
Experts say most BigLaw firms are missing out as they eschew the HBCUs — with the exception of Howard University School of Law, the highest ranked among them — in favor of the handful of top-ranked law schools where they have historically recruited.
Jean Lee, president and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, says she has long publicly lamented large law firms' preoccupation with recruiting at only a dozen or so top-ranked schools.
"All of the talented Black lawyers do not reside in the top 5% of law schools," Lee said. "It's a missed opportunity."
According to Carmia Caesar, Howard Law School assistant dean of career services, most large law firms, including 48 of the 50 largest in the U.S. by revenue, regularly recruit at her school.
Nonexhaustive law firm-reported data collected by the National Association for Law Placement, primarily capturing large firms, showed that 88 firms reported recruiting at Howard during the most recent on-campus season, while no more than four reported recruiting at each of the remaining five HBCU law schools. ...
Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor William Henderson has researched what qualities make for successful law firm associates.
Henderson said he found that the prestige of the school an associate graduates from and their grades are far less important to their success than the quality of work they are handed once they are hired, as well as the power of the partner they work under.
Henderson suggests that law firms would be better served by not "fixating" on elite credentials and instead determining whether students have a strong interest in and passion for the firm's work.