In response to the plummeting minority enrollments at University of California law schools, San Francisco’s top attorneys issued an ultimatum Wednesday. Representatives from 50 leading law firms and San Francisco’s Bar Association said they would no longer hire UC graduates unless the school admits more students of color.
The group criticized UC because minority enrollment at Berkeley, Davis and Los Angeles law schools dropped to almost nothing after the UC system ended its affirmative action program.
Attorney James Brosnahan asked if the UC Board of Regents intended “to tell the legal employers in the Bay Area that they will not be graduating minority lawyers in any great numbers any more?” Lawyer Steve Dunham said “A profession that doesn’t reflect the citizens it serves doesn’t work. We need diversity. Clients demand it, and the law firms must respond.”
The group delivered a “Statement of Commitment” to the law school deans on Tuesday, saying that they would increase recruiting and interviewing at schools with diverse applicant pools.
UC Regent Ward Connerly disapproved of the lawyer’s actions. “If you really want to hire a certain number of blacks, Latinos and people from Mars, employers should go out and give them scholarships when they’re still in grades K-12, so the kids can become competitive,” he said.
Lindbergh Porter, Jr., who is president-elect of the San Francisco bar and an African-American, said admissions committees should stop relying so heavily on test scores and grades. “We have to look at the individual to see who would make a good lawyer. When we hire attorneys, we rarely look at the indexes of how they scored. We as employers interview and look at the whole person.”