The Labor Department Thinks It Can "Fix" The Lack Of Racial Diversity At Major Law Firms

On Wednesday of this week, a guy named Craig Leen — Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in the Department of Labor — showed up in Manhattan to hold a “town hall” meeting with representatives of major law firms. The event was covered at law.com here, and then commented on by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line here. The headline of the law.com piece is “Government Warns Law Firms of Consequences for Diversity Failures.” Mirengoff characterizes the DOL’s effort as “seek[ing] to impose a radical diversity agenda on law firms.”

The gist of Leen’s presentation was that you guys have a big problem here that you need to “fix,” or there will be consequences. From law.com:

Craig Leen . . . told industry representatives at a town hall meeting in New York that the scarcity of women and minorities at firms in leading roles has been noted by the office, and it will be taking a closer look. Leen said in a brief interview after the meeting that “there is evidence of low representation at law firms and financial firms, and our goal is to fix it and work with them to do so." . . . Leen said during Wednesday's meeting that the office looks at systemic issues, “and we are seeing serious issues.”

So what’s your game plan, Craig? The law.com article describes Leen making veiled threats of cutting off federal contracts for firms that don’t meet some unstated targets. He made these remarks to the right group, since there is no collection of people more filled with a deep sense of guilt over their success than major law firm leaders. On the other hand, since federal contracts are a very small part of the business of major law firms, the chance of Leen’s threat having any meaningful effect is about zero.

But more important, what are the “serious” and “systemic” issues that Leen claims to be seeing? . . .

Read More

Progressive Hypocrisy At The Highest Levels: The Case Of Paul Weiss

Progressive Hypocrisy At The Highest Levels:  The Case Of Paul Weiss

A core mission of this blog has been making fun of sanctimonious progressives who demand that others be forced to take actions and make sacrifices that the progressives themselves would never make in their own lives. The climate follies provide nearly infinite examples. Almost as many examples can be found in the realm of “diversity, equity and inclusion.” This week we have an example of a progressive icon at the very highest level caught with its pants down in “diversity” hypocrisy.  Oh, what fun!

Have you heard of the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, sometimes known just as “Paul Weiss”?  If you haven’t, you should have.  It is one of those New York-based firms at the very pinnacle of the U.S. legal firmament.  It has around 1000 lawyers and about 200 partners, plus or minus.  The firm represents a who’s who of corporate America in corporate transactions and litigation.  According to the American Lawyer, in 2017 the partners at Paul Weiss earned an average of over $4.5 million per head.  That is not a typo.  Expectations are that profits for 2018 will be up substantially.

In a post way back in June 2014 titled “Is Lack Of ‘Diversity’ At Big Law Firms A Crisis?” I summarized some of the strange history of the New York legal practice, particularly the long-time division of the profession into Jewish and non-Jewish firms.  From the late 19th through mid-20th centuries, thousands of Jews, many the children of recent immigrants, flooded into the legal profession, in numbers far exceeding their percentage of the overall population; but the then-prestigious “white shoe” firms nakedly discriminated against the Jews.  As a result, many Jews formed their own start-up firms, some of which then grew to become powerhouses by the late-20th century.  Today, many of these firms continue to have substantial pluralities of Jews in their ranks of attorneys, and even more so at the top levels of leadership. . . .

Read More

On Being Thankful On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  We are reminded of the importance of being thankful for the many blessings we have in life.  The most important blessings are the simplest and most basic:  family, and extended family; friends; the large traditional meal; the opportunity to support a family through hard work; a government that doesn't intentionally starve and imprison dissenters.

Have you noticed that the liberals and progressives have lost the ability to give thanks for these things?  Their world view seems to be a combination of guilt and self-loathing on the one hand, with hatred of those who disagree with them on the other.  Somehow these things so overwhelm the consciousness that thankfulness for the simple things, or for anything, just can't break through.  Can any reader find a single example of a progressive pundit this Thanksgiving giving unqualified thanks for the basic and simple things without then turning to the usual guilt, self-loathing, and hatred, let alone the self-flagellation over "white privilege," over "racism," over "sexism," over "homophobia," and on and on?

Let's take a little survey of the New York Times op ed columnists.  Most of them have chosen not to address the subject of Thanksgiving at all.  The ones who have border, as usual, on self-parody. The Krugman article is headlined "On Feeling Thankful But Fearful."  So, what are you thankful for, Paul?

I’m thankful to have had the privileges that went with being a white male, growing up and building a career during an era — perhaps temporary — in which open anti-Semitism had become socially unacceptable. To my shame, until recently I didn’t fully appreciate just how big those privileges were (and at a deep level I probably still don’t). I knew that racism and sexism were real and continuing, but was oblivious to just how vicious they were (and are). 

See what I mean?  And Paul, do you have any other qualifications you want to add to your "thanks"?

[E]very one of those good things is now very much under assault. . . .  White supremacists are, of course, making a big comeback thanks to encouragement from the top. . . .  So are anti-Semites, which is really no surprise to those who remember their history.  Even as old prejudices return, we’ve clearly entered a new age of politically potent anti-intellectualism. . . .  

Meanwhile, the even more strident Charles Blow has a column headlined "Thankfully Recommitting To Resistance" -- but, after the headline, I can't find the word "thanks" in the column at all.  It is an angry screed directed at the President, and unwilling to concede that he has done even one thing worthy of the slightest gratitude.  Sample:

Donald Trump, I thought that your presidency would be a disaster. It’s worse than a disaster. I wasn’t sure that resistance to your weakening of the republic, your coarsening of the culture, your assault on truth and honesty, your erosion of our protocols, would feel as urgent today as it felt last year. But if anything, that resistance now feels more urgent.  Nothing about you has changed for the better. You are still a sexist, bigoted, bullying, self-important simpleton.

If Blow has anything to be thankful for, you will not find it in this column.  So, does even one of the Times's columnists offer any genuine thanks for anything?  The closest is Bret Stephens -- but then, he is the house conservative.

If you want to find an example of someone actually counting his blessings, you're just going to have to go over to the right side of the political spectrum.  Among many examples, one of the best is the article from Deroy Murdock at National Review.  National Review has been known as among the "never Trumpers."  But this article gives credit where credit is due, even to someone the magazine has strongly opposed on many issues.  The headline is "This Thanksgiving, Thank Donald J. Trump."  There is a list of some 36 positive accomplishments of the Trump administration, on subjects ranging from the economy to foreign policy to civil rights to immigration.  Many of these things you would think the progressives would agree with.  For example, on the economy:

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all hit record highs on Tuesday. The Wilshire 5000 Index calculates that some $3.4 trillion in new wealth has been created since President Trump’s inauguration and $5.4 trillion since his election. Fueled by the reality of deregulation, expectations of lower taxes, and a new tone in Washington that applauds free enterprise rather than excoriate it, the economy is on fire.
  • Atop the second quarter’s 3.1 percent increase in real GDP, and 3.0 in 3Q, the New York Federal Reserve Bank predicts that 4Q output will expand by 3.8 percent. This far outpaces the feeble average-annual GDP growth rate of 1.5 percent on President Obama’s watch. Meanwhile, the IMF expects global GDP to rise by 3.5 percent this year. So much for a Trump-inspired “global recession.”

In the past I have expressed skepticism about crediting (or blaming) a President for economic performance of the economy starting on the day of his election or inauguration, since economic policy generally operates with a lag.  On the other hand, I think it is entirely reasonable to expect an economy to react more or less immediately to promises of deregulation and of tax cuts.  

In case you are not aware of it, note that Murdock points to a forecast put out by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, known as its "Nowcast."  This indicator tracks economic statistics day by day to give an early read as to how the economy is doing in the current quarter.  As of November 24 the New York Fed "Nowcast" for 4th Quarter GDP is at 3.7% increase (a 0.1% decline from a few days ago when Murdock wrote his article).  When combined with the 3.1% GDP increase in the 2nd Quarter, and 3.0% in the 3rd, there is no doubt that economic performance has dramatically improved on Trump's watch.  But then, Obama waged what I called (in August 2015) the "War On The Economy":

[T]hat war has many fronts, including: massive wasteful spending and debt accumulation; artificially suppressing cheap and reliable energy in favor of subsidizing expensive and unreliable energy; overregulation and endless phony prosecutions directed against anyone who dares to make too much money in a financial business; forcing people to overpay for wasteful health insurance (Obamacare); big tax increases; and more. . . .  I truly believe that Obama and his minions have no idea that there is any relationship between intentional suppression of economic activity by the government on the one hand and sluggish economic performance by the economy on the other. 

Murdock contrasts the economy's performance since Trump took office to Krugman's prediction on November 9, 2016 (the day after the election):

Now comes the mother of all adverse effects — and what it brings with it is a regime that will be ignorant of economic policy and hostile to any effort to make it work," Krugman wrote. "So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.

For two other examples, both from the right, of things that deserve your unqualified thanks, consider this article from Kurt Schlichter at Townhall, and this one from Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post.  Both lead with the same item:  Be thankful that Hillary Clinton was not elected President.

UPDATE, November 25:  You might have thought this was not possible, but my friends at Maggie's Farm have found someone who hates Thanksgiving even more than Krugman and Blow.  It's a guy named David Zirin, writing in The Nation on November 17.  Zirin works himself up into a purple rage over the fact that the NFL's Thanksgiving day game was being hosted in Washington by the Redskins.  Or, in The Nation, the "R*dskins."  They change the spelling because, in their world, the word "Redskins" is a "racial slur."  Excerpt:

Whether it’s a question of tin-eared insensitivity, or their own sick, private joke, Washington will be hosting the Thanksgiving game for the first time in league history. . . .  The NFL . . . of course has a team named after a Native American racial slur in the nation’s capital. That’s not news. What is news is that on Thanksgiving, for the first time in league history, this team in Washington will be playing host. That means as we finish our food . . .  and gather around the television to watch NFL football, a tradition only slightly less ubiquitous than pumpkin pie, the R*dskins slur— a name that exists only because of genocide and displacement—will have center stage. 

Bird Dog's comment is, "Oh for crying out loud."  Amen.

[For some reason, Squarespace is refusing to embed the link for The Nation article.  Here it is:  https://www.thenation.com/article/by-having-the-washington-rdskins-host-a-game-on-thanksgiving-nfl-owners-show-their-true-colors/.] 

Taboos So Powerful That They Completely Prevent Addressing The Issues

The big thing at Yale University this past week has been the issuance of the ultimate definitive report on the secular religion of the academia of today, "diversity, equity and inclusion" or "DEI."  (Funny name for the new religion.  In the old religion, the same word used to mean "of God.")  The Report is titled "Leadership in the Face of Change:  A Report From the Alumni Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion."  It seems to have been sent as an e-blast to all alumni -- otherwise, why would I have gotten one?

As you probably know, Yale, along with most other elite universities, adopted more or less explicit racial admission quotas way back in the 1960s.  OK, they never explicitly say that these are fixed quotas as far as I can find, but somehow the numbers for various ethnic groups seem to come out right around the same percent every year.  For blacks that figure is about 10%.  And yet, on a campus completely obsessed with issues of race and inclusion, something doesn't seem to be working. For example, there was that huge blow-up at Yale in October 2015, ostensibly over "safe spaces" and Halloween costumes.  But what exactly is the underlying problem?  The DEI Report clearly believes that these are the world's most important issues, but yet it is entirely lacking in specifics as to any causes.  The best they can come up with is a claim that there has been a "lack of focus" -- on the very issues as to which Yale has for decades been demonstrably not only focused, but obsessed:

Yale has long championed its commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, to building a faculty and student body that respect the multicultural reality of the world around us and a community where everyone feels valued and welcomed. But while these beliefs are laudable, they have not always translated into meaningful and lasting policy and action. In late 2015, students of color and their allies voiced their frustration that inequity on campus and a lack of focus by the administration on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) meant the university was falling far short of its ideals. 

If you somehow think that "lack of focus" explanation is less than plausible, you are not alone.  But in this Report, that nostrum is taken as gospel, and all recommendations for what to do next flow from it.  And the recommendations do flow, and flow, and flow.  Like:  

  • Commit to becoming a leader in DEI in the eld of higher education!
  • Engage young alumni and alumni of color!
  • Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all levels of AYA leadership!
  • Build a bridge between current and future alumni in tackling DEI issues!
  • Build infrastructure to continue to champion and implement DEI work!

Etc., etc., etc.  Funny, but there doesn't seem to be anything in that list that they weren't already doing and talking about endlessly for the last 50 years.  Might there perhaps be a few things about this subject that they are just not mentioning?

To get an answer to that last question, you'll just have to go somewhere that is not under the spell of the current academic taboos.  This Report is completely under the spell of the taboos, such that nothing that anyone might ever find remotely sensitive or discomforting can be mentioned, no matter how obvious the fact and no matter how important it might be to understanding the problem at hand.  

For example, could it be that by implementing a fixed quota of 10% blacks, Yale ends up with large numbers of blacks who find it difficult or impossible to compete academically with their classmates?  That's a question that must not be asked!  In an article in the current City Journal titled "Are We All Unconscious Racists?" , not focused specifically on Yale, Heather Mac Donald collects some relevant statistics on SAT scores:

From 1996 to 2015, the average difference between the mean black score on the math SAT and the mean white score was 0.92 standard deviation, reports a February 2017 Brookings Institution study. The average black score on the math SAT was 428 in 2015; the average white score was 534, and the average Asian score was 598. The racial gaps were particularly great at the tails of the distribution. Among top scorers—those scoring between 750 and 800—60 percent were Asian, 33 percent were white, and 2 percent were black. At the lowest end—scores between 300 and 350—6 percent were Asian, 21 percent were white, and 35 percent were black.

If every elite university wants to get about 10% blacks, and also wants to get all or nearly all of its students from the group scoring between 750 and 800 on the SATs, you can see how this is not going to work.  Somehow, four-fifths or so of the blacks at each institution are going to have to come from lower-performing groups, and therefore be highly likely to underperform.  The obvious consequence of the 10% quota is that the bottom of every class is going to be consist mostly of such candidates.  Once you realize that, is it any wonder that the supposed beneficiaries here turn out to be unhappy about the situation into which they have been thrown?

Our Yale DEI Report gives us no information on the relative SATs of black students admitted to Yale.  Nor does it give us any information on the academic performance while at Yale of the admitted blacks.  Nor does it give us any information on how many blacks major in "hard" subjects like math and science, versus medium subjects like history and English, versus dubious subjects like the "studies" departments.  Nor does it give us any information on the post-graduation success of black graduates in the job marketplace.  Nor can I find such data anywhere else.  Yale has these data.  It's just that the data are considered too sensitive for our delicate eyes.  The taboo on mentioning or discussing such things is complete.

But the problem is that you need to understand the issues before you can address them.  The fifty or so members of the committees who put this Report together were clearly way too "polite" to ask for anything that might make anyone uncomfortable.  OK, so go ahead and believe that what you identify as the problem of "diversity, equity and inclusion" can be solved by "committing to becoming a leader in DEI" and "building bridges between current and future alumni" and such.  Another fifty years of this, and nothing will have changed.

 

How Can You Identify White "Oppression" Or "Implicit Bias"?

Here we are multiple decades into the era of affirmative action intended to raise up racial minorities and women in education and in the workforce, and yet by reported statistics certain groups -- women, Hispanics, and particularly blacks -- continue to lag.  Indeed, by many such reported measures, the lags have not shrunk noticeably in all these decades.  Protesters from Black Lives Matter to Antifa to NFL players to various university students and faculties think they have identified the cause:  "oppression" by white males; or maybe, in a less harsh articulation, "implicit bias."  But does that hypothesis hold up to scrutiny?  And, if there is "oppression" or "implicit bias," how can you spot it?

On the subject of the racial gap, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has just come out with a lengthy analysis of the extensive literature on implicit bias, titled "Are We All Unconscious Racists?"   It is fair to call her highly skeptical.  Her fundamental point:  how could the explanation for black under-performance be "implicit bias" on the part of whites, when literally every major societal institution is explicitly engaged in some kind of affirmative action program intended to achieve the opposite?

[Blacks] are still not proportionally represented in the workplace, despite decades of trying to engineer “diversity.” You can read through hundreds of implicit-bias studies and never come across the primary reason: the academic skills gap. Given the gap’s size, anything resembling proportional representation can be achieved only through massive hiring preferences.  From 1996 to 2015, the average difference between the mean black score on the math SAT and the mean white score was 0.92 standard deviation, reports a February 2017 Brookings Institution study. The average black score on the math SAT was 428 in 2015; the average white score was 534, and the average Asian score was 598. The racial gaps were particularly great at the tails of the distribution.

Meanwhile, over in my own beloved legal profession, it's all one big guilt-fest over the failure of the profession to achieve percentages of women and minorities at all levels -- including partners of the largest and most profitable firms and lead trial lawyer roles in the most high-profile matters -- strictly in accordance with overall population ratios.  After decades of affirmative action, the percentage of women partners at major law firms remains under 20%, and the percentage of black partners under 3%.  "Implicit bias"?  Reacting to the failure of these numbers to move much over decades, the ABA in 2008 instituted its "Goal III":  to "Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity" in the profession.  In its most recent web page on the issue, the ABA lists no fewer than six big initiatives, bodies and commissions:  the Diversity and Inclusion Center; the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice; the Council for Diversity and Inclusion in the Educational Pipeline; the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities; and the Commission on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity.  But the numbers continue to move little if at all.    

As I pointed out in this post back in August, the problem with the "implicit bias" hypothesis in the law firm world is that there are several hundred major law firms, literally all of which claim that they are engaging in affirmative action in favor of women and minorities.  And literally all of them have in place a "diversity" bureaucracy (almost always staffed by people who are either female or minority or both) charged with achieving that goal.  Could it all be a big scam, orchestrated simultaneously by hundreds of seemingly independent entities?

And, even if you could believe that all these law firms are discriminating against minorities and women while loudly proclaiming they aren't, what about the formation of law firms?  After all, any given firm could, if it tried, discriminate in hiring.  But nobody can keep you from starting your own law firm and then trying to grow it.  All of the major commercial firms started from scratch, and remarkable numbers of the biggest and most profitable of them during my lifetime.  AmLaw Media compiles an annual list of the 200 largest and most profitable commercial firms;  here is one of their lists from 2016.  Of these 200 firms, how many were started by blacks?  The answer is zero.  But don't feel too bad, blacks.  How many were started by women?  Zero.  How many by Hispanics?  Also zero.  Was that "implicit bias"?  Or maybe, "oppression"?  If so, how did it work?  Who stopped these people from starting and building their own firms?  The same question could be asked as to firms in the technology business and, I suspect, numerous other fields.

Of course, for every white male who started one of these successful law firms, there were probably at least ten -- or maybe more like 50 -- who tried and failed at the effort to build a big and hugely profitable behemoth.  Some such start-up firms just remained small and marginal, while others failed entirely.  But in today's world, where all major law firms are practicing affirmative action for women, blacks, and Hispanics, why would any such person take the huge risk of striking out on their own and trying to make it big?  With affirmative action, the much easier, secure paycheck beckons.

From the University of North Carolina comes a story of affirmative action carried to its logical conclusion.  The NCAA has been investigating UNC for violations of its code of conduct, allegedly for providing its athletes with no-show, easy grade courses where the basketball stars can get an A without ever going to a class and then turning in one meaningless paper.  You won't be surprised to learn that the courses at issue are in the African American Studies Department.  But UNC has just been exonerated!  Its defense:  these were not special courses for athletes, but rather were courses available to all students.

In the bubble of today's higher education, the people who put this together apparently can't see that they are saddling the intended beneficiaries with an incredible handicap in life.  George W. Bush used the phrase "soft bigotry of low expectations."  The phrase seems to me a remarkable understatement.  How about "white oppression"?

Yet More "Diversity" Follies

Even as Google atones for its "diversity" sins by firing its one employee willing to speak honestly about the subject, we have a very similar morality play going on here in the New York legal profession.  We have just learned that New York lawyers or their clients or the judges or somebody have for decades been secretly conspiring to keep women from advancing professionally in the litigation sector.  Something must be done!

In July something called the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association, through a Task Force on Women's Initiatives, put out a big Report titled "Achieving Equality For Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in ADR."   The members of the Task Force are all women, headed by one Shira Scheindlin.  

Have you heard of Judge Shira Scheindlin?  Probably you have, but then, you probably also confuse her with Judge Judy Sheindlin, of TV fame, who is no relation.  Shira Scheindlin was a federal judge on the Southern District of New York from 1994 (appointed by Clinton) until last year, when she retired to go to a private law firm.  All federal litigators in New York heaved a collective sigh of relief.  She seemed to have been born angry.  There was no more unpleasant or difficult judge to appear before.  Her biggest claim to fame as a judge was her series of decisions in a case called Zubulake, in which she singlehandedly multiplied the cost of civil discovery nationwide by setting rules making it impossible to put any reasonable limits on retaining and reviewing thousands (sometimes millions) of emails.  She also regularly made highly ideological decisions that got herself reversed by the Second Circuit.  In one notorious opinion, in 2013 she declared the so-called "stop and frisk" program of the New York Police Department to be unconstitutional.  The Second Circuit reversed in a critical decision and, in an unusual move, removed her from the case.  She was unrepentant.  

So in her newfound retirement, Ms. Scheindlin turns her hand to excoriating the New York litigation community for its alleged sins of lack of "diversity," particularly as it concerns women.  The Report collects statistics, both in New York and nationwide, on the under-representation of women as lead litigators appearing in court in trials and appeals.  Examples:

The results of the survey are striking:  Female attorneys represented just 25.2% of the attorneys appearing in commercial and criminal cases in courtrooms across New York; female attorneys accounted for 24.9% of lead counsel roles and 27.6% of additional counsel roles; the most striking disparity in women’s participation appeared in complex commercial cases: women’s representation as lead counsel shrank from 31.6% in one-party cases to 26.4% in two-party cases to 24.8% in three- to-four-party cases and to 19.5% in cases involving five or more parties. In short, the more complex the case, the less likely that a woman appeared as lead counsel.  The percentage of female attorneys appearing in court was nearly identical at the trial level (24.7%) to at the appellate level (25.2%). The problem is slightly worse downstate (24.8%) than upstate (26.2%). 

Notice the casual insertion into the statistics of value judgments about the results, tossed out without explanation and with the pervasive assumption that no reasonable person could possibly disagree.  The under-representation (presumably meaning anything less than 50%) of women in these roles is a "problem."  There is a need for "solutions."  Any lower representation is "worse."  Any somewhat higher representation is a "bright spot."  And so on.

Meanwhile, do you notice that the percentage of women in these lead litigation roles in court in New York seems to be right in the same range as the percentage of women in technical jobs at Google?  Check the stats at my post yesterday.  But there is this difference:  Google is one company.  Everybody reports to the same top management.  Therefore, it is at least a plausible hypothesis that a systematic under-representation of women in Google's ranks could be the result of centrally-directed discriminatory intent.  

Now try applying the analogy to the legal profession.  There are hundreds upon hundreds of law firms, and in New York City there are many dozens of quite large law firms (100 lawyers and up).  Could they really all be systematically discriminating against women?  Go to any of the large ones, and you will find that without exception they have some kind of internal "diversity" initiative dedicated to advancing women and various other minority groups within the firm.  Are all of those diversity initiatives in hundreds of firms simultaneously just a hoax to fool outsiders while systematic discrimination continues?  Moreover, clients don't typically hire the firm by brand name and then accept the lawyer that the firm happens to assign them.  Rather, clients pick the individual lawyer that they want to represent them as lead counsel.  Collectively, the number of clients in any given year is in the tens or hundreds of thousands.  Literally all of them -- and certainly every single one of the corporate law departments -- will say if asked that they do not discriminate in choice of counsel, and are doing everything they can to increase "diversity."  Could it really all be a sham?

Remarkably, among the large law firms, essentially all of them have gender diversity statistics that are nearly identical, or within a very narrow range.  All hire approximately 50% women and 50% men at the entry level.  All have about 30 to 40% women in the overall ranks.  And all have about 20% women in the partnership.  Within the partnership, almost always there will be more women in certain fields (e.g., trusts and estates, pension law, employment law) and fewer in other fields (e.g, corporate mergers and acquisitions, litigation).

Can you view these statistics and still believe that the cause of universal under-representation of women in certain areas is some kind of pervasive concealed bias, let alone a grand conspiracy?  Judge Scheindlin does not say in her Report, but she gave an interview that appeared in the New York Law Journal on August 10.  Excerpt:

Women are 50 percent of the graduating class at law school. They're getting offers at the big firms at the same rate as men, but then come the problems: Women are not getting the same opportunities to actually talk on their feet, to appear at courtrooms, to take or defend depositions. Something goes wrong once women arrive at law firms, and it's probably because the higher-ranking positions at firms are held by men and people tend to, unconsciously, work with people who look like them. Young men don't have to be more active or progressive. But for young women that isn't the case. Unless law firms make a conscious effort to bring them in and meet clients, go to court, take depositions, promote them and eventually make them partner, the gap is going to be hard to change.

Somehow, she seems to be unaware that those "conscious efforts" she talks about have been going on for decades.

For myself, I don't claim to have perfect knowledge of all the causes of "gender disparity" in the legal profession.  However, as a long time law firm partner, I did have the experience of working with many dozens of female associates (as well as an equivalent number of male associates) over the course of three decades.  It would have been hard not to notice the higher attrition rate among women over the years from the higher-pressure and longer-hour areas of the practice, of which litigation is one.  More than anything else, this attrition for women was associated with having children.  I have spent many, many fruitless hours in my life trying hopelessly to convince highly talented female associates that they really wanted to come back from maternity leave to the 12 hour days and over-the-weekend injunction motions and four weeks on trial in Kansas and leave their little kids at home with a babysitter.  It never worked once.  The number of women with children who stick with the high-end litigation business for a long term career is very few.  What I don't understand is why anybody feels guilty about that or thinks that it is important to change.