“Are Attractive People Better Lawyers?” was the title of a recent post on the Above the Law blog. What prompted the question was a quotation from an unnamed hiring “professional” who acknowledged that she would write “This person is attractive” on an applicant’s cover letter before forwarding it to law firms. In her experience, “whether they admit it or not, many employers feel that having pretty female employees will reflect well on their firm.” To which one Above the Law editor responded: “So pretty people have an advantage in the world. D’uh.”
Yet while this is not exactly breaking news, it is surprising to note the extent of the advantage. My recently released book, The Beauty Bias, reviews a cottage industry of studies finding that attractive individuals are more likely to be viewed as intelligent, likeable and good. They are also are more likely to be hired and promoted and to earn higher salaries. Law is no exception. In a famous study, “Lawyers’ Looks and Lucre,” economists Jeff Biddle and Daniel Hamermesh estimated that attractiveness may account for as much as a 12% difference in attorneys’ earnings.
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