Affirmative Action in Law Reviews
44 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019 Last revised: 3 Dec 2019
Date Written: November 27, 2019
Policies designed to increase the diversity of law review editors are being challenged in court. The lawsuits claim that, by "illegally us[ing] race and gender as criteria for selecting law students to staff their most elite academic journals," the law reviews have diminished the quality of the articles they publish. We test this claim by using citations as a measure of article impact and studying changes in diversity policies at the flagship law reviews of the top 20 law schools. Using data on the citations of articles published since 1960, we find no evidence that diversity policies for editor selection meaningfully decrease the impact of published articles. In fact, we find at least some evidence that diversity policies may actually increase the impact of published articles.
Note: On December 3, 2018, we posted a version of this paper on SSRN where we pre-committed to the approaches and specifications we use in this paper before we had the final dataset. That version can be assessed at https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract_id=3295334. We then circulated a call for help on social media asking current and former law review editors to share information on the diversity policies that law reviews have adopted. After receiving more information on law reviews' adoption of diversity policies, we re-ran the specifications that we pre-committed to in our initial draft. We have added robustness checks to this draft, but the main approaches and specifications are exactly the same.
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