Study: Law Faculties Short on White Christians, Republicans

Karen Sloan, National Law Journal, March 24, 2015

The demographic groups most underrepresented on law faculties include white Christians and Republicans, according to research by Northwestern University School of Law professor James Lindgren.

His working paper, “Measuring Diversity: Law Faculties in 1997 and 2013,” challenges the notion that women and minorities are underrepresented in teaching the law. Those groups actually have made significant gains, he said.

But viewpoint diversity did not improve. For example, 59 percent of lawyers in 2013 identified as white Christians, and that group comprised nearly 57 percent of the working population. Yet white Christians made up just 34 percent of law professors.

Republican men comprised 23 percent of both the working population and lawyers, but only 10 percent of law professors.

Conversely, Lindgren found that women were slightly overrepresented on law faculties compared to the pool of lawyers—nearly 36 percent of professors but only 32 percent of lawyers. Women overall accounted for 45 percent of the working population.

“In proportional terms, the most underrepresented large group in law teaching is female Republicans, which are at only 5 percent of parity with the working population and 9 percent of parity with the lawyer population,” Lindgren (left) wrote.

“On law faculties there are about 10 times as many Jewish women as Republican women, though in the full-time working population there are 24 times as many Republican women as Jewish women.”

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“After four decades of hiring to make law professors more representative of American society, law faculties are probably less representative ideologically than they have been for at least several decades,” Lindgren wrote in his paper.

Essentially, the increase in women and minority law professors has boosted the percentage of left-learning faculty, Lindgren concluded. At the same time, white faculty members are largely Democrats when the white population is skewing Republican.

Lindgren argues that law schools should take a broader view of faculty diversity, rather than focus solely on racial and gender groups that historically have been discriminated against.

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