Study Finds a Racial Disparity in the Perception of Fairness During the Tenuring Process at the Nation’s Law Schools

A new study supported by the American Bar Association and the Law School Admission Council has found a racial disparity in the perception of fairness during the tenuring process at American law schools. The study, authored by Katherine Barnes of the University of Arizona and Elizabeth Mertz of the University of Wisconsin, surveyed tenured law professors from across the nation. Some 77 percent of these law professors stated that they believed the tenuring process at their law school was fair. But only 65 percent of minority law professors thought the process was fair.

Minority women were the least satisfied. Only 54 percent thought that the process was fair.

About half of the total respondents stated that they thought the tenure review process was “easy.” But only 29 percent of minority respondents agreed. More than 60 percent of the minority women disagreed with the assertion that the tenure process was easy.

It must be noted that all respondents to this survey successfully navigated through the tenure process. It is quite probable that many of those who were denied tenure also doubted the fairness of the process.

The study, entitled “Is it Fair? Law Professors’ Perceptions of Tenure,” will appear in the Journal of Legal Education. It can be downloaded by clicking here.