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Affirmative action in the legal profession

Nicolson, Donald (2006) Affirmative action in the legal profession. Journal of Law and Society, 31 (1). pp. 109-125. ISSN 0263-323X

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Abstract

This article examines whether the legal profession should use quotas and decision-making preferences in recruitment and promotion in favour of women, ethnic minorities, and those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. It argues that this is necessary to eradicate current patterns of discrimination and disadvantage. It also argues that quotas and decision-making preferences do not necessarily conflict with appointment or promotion on merit, and hence that consequent unfairness to other applicants is more apparent than real. Moreover, any potential stigmatization of the beneficiaries of affirmative action is outweighed by the advantages in reversing the under-representation of women, ethnic minorities, and those from socially disadvantaged background, thereby challenging perceptions of their inferior qualities as lawyers. Finally, practical problems in the implementation of affirmative action are considered and argued to be insufficiently serious to stand in the way of its introduction.