Where Not To Be A Federalist Society Member

Last Sunday, the New York Times’ “Ethicist” column featured a letter from a lawyer loath to hire internship applicants that belonged to the Federalist society. Randy Cohen, the “Ethicist” suggested that disqualification on the grounds of their membership was unfair. The lawyer went ahead and rejected all applicants who were members anyway.
Ilya Somin, at the Volokh Conspiracy notes that, while this case is blatantly unfair, the legal world seems to feature little political discrimination against applicants. Not so in other fields, he continues:

By contrast, both liberal and conservative law professors warned me not to put the Fed Soc on my CV for the academic job market, where ideological discrimination is likely to be greater because the academia is far more ideologically homogenous than the law firm world, (see also here), there is little or no equivalent to the constraint imposed by the profit motive, and academics tend to care about politics far more than practicing lawyers do.
These personal experiences aren’t necessarily typical. Only systematic data can really settle the issue. But they are similar to those of other Fed Soc members I know in the law firm and academic worlds (and I know a great many in both). It’s not unusual for people to put Fed Soc membership on their law firm resumes, while the conventional wisdom is strongly against doing so on academic CVs.

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Anthony Paletta

Anthony Paletta is a freelance writer.

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