See You in Court

LAW SCHOOL DISCRIMINATION SUIT:

LAW students will be law students. After failing to win the immediate hiring of additional minority and female professors at Harvard Law School, the students in the Coalition for Civil Rights took the Law School to court. In order to defeat the lawsuit, the administrators must show that the criteria by which they make hiring decisions are directly necessary qualifications for employment and are not simply independent variables that unfairly discriminate against minorities.

It is a novel approach that will focus debate on what qualifications the Law School should seek in its hiring. Is counting the number of prestigious law review articles unfair because alternative modes of scholarship are not represented in such journals? Are such "objective" measures relevant to teaching ability or future scholarship?

The Law School's recent record of minority and female hiring has been excellent: six of the last 12 appointments have been minorities or women. But the overall figures are still skewed. Law School officials attribute the disparity to its inability to find "qualified" minority and female scholars. Student activists have long responded that the Law School's definition of "qualified" is skewed.

The lawsuit is a creative way of focusing attention on this underlying, but crucially important, dispute.