This Week by the Numbers: Dismal Diversity Stats, Honey Buns and the Rise of the Machines

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1.9 percent

What diversity? In 2013, only 1.9 percent of partners at Am Law 100 firms were African-American, with black lawyers accounting for 3 percent in big firms overall. As for African-American women, the numbers were even bleaker: Black women accounted for one in every 170 partners in surveyed firms, according to data collected by the National Association for Law Placement. On the flip side, the percentages of other minorities in big law firms are (slowly) climbing. Asian-Americans lead the pack, representing 6.3 percent of big law lawyers and 2.7 percent of partners. Hispanics surpassed African-Americans for the first time, rising to 3.2 percent overall and 2.3 percent of partners. On the whole, the numbers are further proof that law firms have a long way to go to make good on their oft-stated commitment to creating a diverse workplace.


Eric Adams, a prisoner, claimed that he:

was denied due process in connection with a prison disciplinary proceeding, and that as a result, he was improperly ‘placed on a ‘bag meal’ for five days. As relief, he requested he be given extra meals for five days, or, alternatively, that he be given 30 honey buns (two for each meal) over a period of five days.

That’s right. Thirty honey buns in recompense for denial of due process. Alas for Adams, his petition was denied, and so he will also be denied baked goods.


The city of Chicago filed suit this week against five pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and the makers of OxyContin and Percodan. The city claims these drug companies campaigned to change public perception of their drugs to push consumer use, which resulted in an increase in addiction. Chicago seeks unspecified money damages and accused the companies of civil conspiracy, fraud and violations of city laws. “It’s time for these companies to end these irresponsible practices and be held accountable,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.


A Florida man went before the state Supreme Court this week seeking a reduction in his 80-year sentence for firing his gun in the air five times in an attempt to scare a group of men who he thought were flirting with him. Ronald Williams said that he never got out of his car, never aimed the gun at anyone and didn’t intend to harm the men. He was sentenced in 2010 under a statute that specified a mandatory 10-year sentence for using a gun during a crime, 20 years for shooting it and a life sentence if someone is shot. The trial judge in the case agreed with the government’s argument that he was bound to impose consecutive sentences, but expressed reservations, saying: “We have first-degree murder cases that people get less than this.” Some of the Florida Supreme Court justices considering the appeal also seemed conflicted about the statute. “It seems totally offensive, and I can think of other gross injustices. It’s a long sentence,” Justice Barbara Pariente said. “I don’t think anybody knew a guy who didn’t hit anybody was going to get 80 years.”


Five areas of the law currently “face encroachment” by computers, writes one Northwestern University law professor in the latest issue of City Journal. John O. McGinnis argues that e-discovery, the rise of computation in legal search, the automation of legal forms, the automation of briefs and memos, and legal analytics are all on pace to revolutionize the legal profession. Some of these changes, he warns, have already created new competition in the industry and, in turn, reduced lawyer incomes. Discovery is the realm “ripest for computational transformation,” McGinnis writes. The rise of “predictive coding” has supplanted traditional document review, shrinking a key profit center for law firms’ litigation groups. In that arena, computers definitely have the edge over overworked junior associates, McGinnis writes, since “fatigue, boredom and distraction reduce human accuracy, while machine intelligence works nonstop, with no lag in attention or need for caffeine or sleep.” Is it us, or does this have all the makings of The Terminator?


The verdict is in for the top 10 law schools with the best “social life.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the University of Florida is number one, and the University of Colorado at Boulder is number two (some things don’t change after college, you guys). Did your school make the cut?

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