Stereotypically, Asian Americans are known for their great work ethic and dedication to their studies. This creates a great opportunity for those of them that fall into that stereotype in the legal field. Asian American’s also may have more than one language, their native language and English, making them prime candidates for niche markets within the law field.
Their test taking ability helps them not only get into the best law schools and undergraduate universities around, but it allows them to dominate certifications and other credentials needed to find success in a field such as forensic accounting.
While there are several very successful Asian Americans in law, it isn’t as easy for all of them. Asian Americans, unfortunately, also have the stereotype of being boring or nerdy. This causes some concern for potential employers, however the paradigm is shifting.
Asian Americans have been nominated to be on the Supreme Court under the last two presidents. President Bush nominated Viet D. Dinh, of Vietnamese decent, to serve on the Supreme Court. While Dinh didn’t successfully join the Supreme Court, the nomination itself is very valuable.
Also nominated but not admitted to the Supreme Court, under current United States President Barrack Obama was, Harold Hongju Koh of Korean ethnicity. Harold’s unsuccessful bid for the Supreme Court doesn’t take away from the fact that in the last 10 years or so, Asian Americans are making great strides in the upper echelons of law.
Asian Americans as a whole make up only 2.3% of all partners in law firms. About 12% of the country is Asian, and a higher percentage of Asians become lawyers, making this statistic of surprising. (see: Asian American Lawyers Still Underdogs.) Asian Americans, however, are aware of this statistic as is apparent by the article I posted. While lawyers make up a huge portion of Asian Americans in law, they are also represented in other areas of law; paralegals, legal secretaries, judicial clerks, judges, etc.
An unfortunate side effect of the current legal market is that a lot of people with JD’s end up applying for paralegal jobs. It pushes the level of competition for those types of mid-level law jobs that much higher and everyone is feeling the crunch; even Asian Americans. Asian Americans, as a group, have the highest SAT and ACT scores as well as high school graduation rates of any identifiable class. With the emphasis on diversity, colleges and universities don’t want to take 50% Asians into their freshman class. Therefore, Asians compete against other Asians and the result is slightly higher scores necessary for Asians to gain successful admission. (read more: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/do-asian-americans-face-bias-in-admissions-at-elite-colleges/?_r=0)
While all of this is interesting, the bottom line is this: Asian Americans are having more success rising to the top of the legal field now than ever before. While the brains, grades, test scores, and basically every other metric have been there for quite some time, a new emphasis is being put on the intangibles: personality, ‘cool factor’ and likeability. With these two things put together in the right quantities, Asian Americans will certainly enjoy much more success going forward.