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Abstract

This Article calls attention to a different, heretofore unacknowledged source of racial disadvantage in these firms, one that is neither dependent upon these inferences of racial bias, nor incompatible with them. Cultural homophily, the tendency of people to develop rapport and relationships with others on the basis of shared interests and experiences, profoundly and often determinatively disadvantages many black attorneys in America’s largest law firms. Although not intrinsically racial, cultural homophily has decidedly racial consequences in this context because of the profound social and cultural distance that separates black and white Americans, evident in pronounced racial patterns in a wide variety of social and cultural behavior. Drawing evidence from interviews of seventy-five black attorneys who have worked as associates at large law firms throughout the country, this Article argues that homophily-based behavior deprives many black attorneys of equal access to critical relationship capital in predominantly white firms, thereby reinforcing racial inequality.