Last year we wrote about how diversity is lacking in all aspects of the legal system. Now, a new study shows that Asian American law students and lawyers have it much worse in some ways. The study, which was sponsored by Yale Law School and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, concludes that Asian Americans are underrepresented in the ranks of judges, law firm partners and United States Attorneys. This is even though Asian Americans are overrepresented as both law students and associates in large law firms.
Asian Americans and Asian immigrants to this country have suffered from overt legal discrimination in the past, from the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that suspended immigration from China, to the infamous internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two. Indeed, as late as 1922, the Supreme Court ruled that Japanese immigrants were not “free white persons” who were even eligible to become citizens. For all these reasons and more it is both impressive that Asian Americans have made such inroads into the lower levels of the legal profession and tragic that they are still struggling to get to the top.
As studies like this show, for people of color it is not always enough to succeed in school, even in the lower levels of their career. There are often intangible barriers to access that exist even after getting a foot in the door. That is why Liberty and Access for All exists: to guide individuals from underrepresented communities through this minefield so everyone can be represented at all levels of society.
Please support our programs so we can help prepare the Asian American legal elite of tomorrow and render this study a historical artifact of a less inclusive time.