A new study by Nextions reveals that reviewers of a legal brief were likely to find more errors once they learned that the author was Black.
Based on findings from a previous study that revealed supervising lawyers are more likely than not to perceive African-American writers as having subpar writing skills when compared to their Caucasian counterparts, the researchers attempted to confirm if they would unfairly evaluate legal writing by Black lawyers.
The results were most unsurprising.
Nextions drafted a research memo from a fake third-year lawyer that focused on the issue of trade secrets at Internet start-ups. The researchers purposefully added 22 errors of varying degrees in the memo. The same memo was then distributed to 60 law firm partners (53 returned them for the study) at 22 law firms. The only difference was that one half of the partners knew the author was Black and the other knew he or she was White.
However, when the partners reviewed the memos, the racism followed. The exact memo produced a score of 3.2/5.0 for the Black lawyer, but 4.1/5.0 for the White one. Here is some of the commentary the partners wrote:
One law firm researchers worked with evaluated its African-American summer associates more harshly than their White counterparts, the study found. The complete study is here, but it reveals that America has a long way to go in its efforts to exercise racial equality.