Racial minorities have been discriminated against for a very long time in almost all spheres of social life. In no other profession have the racial minorities been so underrepresented. According to, US Census Bureau. (2001) racial minorities’ lawyers represent less than 7% of all lawyers in the U. S. African Americans and the Hispanic people, the majority group amongst the minority groups in the U. S continue to be unfairly treated in the face of law and the legal system, an avenue seen as able to bring about unfair and unjust treatment.
This paper addresses the issues surrounding the under representation of racial minority groups in the U. S in the legal system as well as the peremptory challenge. There exists a myriad of explanations as to the causes and implications of under representation. Theories related to social capital, culture, stereotypes, as well as human capital have all been advanced in an attempt to explain the situation. The under representation can be attributed to among other factors, the low number of minority groups joining in law schools, as well as the number of minority groups being admitted under the American Bar Association, Barker, (2005).
The under-representation of racial minority groups can be termed as pathetic on account of the fact that, racial minorities constitute well above 30 percent of the American population. It makes a lot of sense to have every race represented well in the legal profession since the race issue has dominated court cases in US for a very long time. It is worthy mentioning that, the American population has been faced with the racial discrimination problem since independence and the legal system is seen as the arbitrator. Racism is still common in the U. S although it has significantly dropped today, compared to the 1960’s.
It makes legal sense to have the racial minority represented by lawyers from their communities in legal cases. The justice system is an area which requires confidence from all sides as this is critical in all arbitration between groups and it serves to ensure fairness to all. In a population as diverse as the American society, the legal system plays a central role and therefore its conduct can add to the interracial tensions if not well handled. The surest way to guarantee fairness in the legal justice system is the equal representation of race and ethnicity in the legal profession.
The under representation needs to be addressed by the education system and especially in the lower grades such as elementary and college levels. That is because; career decisions are shaped at this level. If racial minority is encouraged,, the people from the racial minorities are likely to pursue the legal profession as a career path. The law schools can play a big role by ensuring that they admit more and more students from racial minority groups into the schools which will eventually see such individuals admitted into the bar.
The lack of funding should be investigated as a possible cause for this under representation and if found to be associated, the government should introduce programs which will see more racial minorities represented in the legal profession. It does not make sense to have many lawyers from racial minority communities but fail to maintain them in the justice system; there is a need for lawyers from the racial minority to be retained in the system. The passing of the civil rights Act of 1964 was aimed at eliminating of all forms of discrimination based on race or ethnicity (Loury, & Glenn, 2002).
The under representation of the racial minorities in the legal possession can be attributed to the following theories; the human capital theory, the social capital theory, stereotyping as well as theory of cultural capital (Nelson, Roberts, Monique & Payne, 2000). The US census bureau (2001) mentions Africans-Americans as well as the Hispanic’s as the largest minority groups therefore the understanding of the racial representation disparities is crucial in the issue of under presentation.
Social capital theory associates the under presentation issue with the positioning of racial minority groups at the bottom of the social economic ladder (Loury, & Glenn, 2002). The above makes racial minorities to be locked out from social networks and makes it impossible for them to access some privileges and opportunities compared to whites who in terms of social economic factors are well endowed, something which highly increases their chances of joining the legal career. To solve the problem of under representation, (Jere, Morehead, 1994) recommends that exposing of more minority groups to diverse networks would help solve the problem.
The human capital emphasizes on labor supply. According to the theory, under presentation has been occasioned by the deficiency, the racial minorities themselves posses (Loury, & Glenn, 2002). As far as the cultural capital is concerned, it states that the attitudes, behavior and ways of doing things influence how institutions operate. In a situation where by the majority groups (Loury, & Glenn, 2002), dominate the law schools as well as the legal institutions whether by virtue of their numbers or otherwise, the legal system will always favor the majority groups as opposed to the minority groups.
The above is correct for law schools and therefore could explain the under representation of the minority in the legal profession. As, Brown, (1931) notes, racial minority under presentation could be also be explained by the absence of cultural knowledge which may even have a bearing on the family financial background therefore. Cultural background determines career options in as far as legal profession is concerned, whereby a lot of costs are incurred for example bar review charges, LSAT preparations, as well as law tuition fees.