According to D-Magazine and its constituency, if you want to hire one of the best criminal defense or personal injury lawyers in Dallas you better not hire a black or female lawyer. Rather, you better hire a white male lawyer. Does D-Magazine have a valid point or are the people at D-Magazine racist and sexist?
Each year D-Magazine compiles and publishes lists of the best doctors, lawyers, restaurants and other categories in Dallas. Lesley Lynch, research editor at D-Magazine, explained that the lists are based on peer reviews, not donations, advertisement or shady backroom deals. For instance, to compile the best lawyers lists, D-Magazine sends out reminders every October to lawyers in its directory. These lawyers nominate and vote for colleagues they consider the best in their respective practice areas. The top vote getters are included on the lists unless D-Magazine’s editorial board, with the input of a secret panel of lawyers, says otherwise.
D-Magazine’s list of the best criminal defense lawyers in Dallas consists of fifteen white males. Its list of the best personal injury lawyers consists of nineteen white males and females—no minorities. As a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer, I can say without hesitation, the best fifteen criminal defense and nineteen personal injury lawyers in Dallas are not all white and/or males. Some of the best lawyers in Dallas are also black and females.
Casting No Aspersions
To be fair, I am not casting any aspersions on D-Magazine nor suggesting the white male lawyers who made the “best of” lists are not great deserving lawyers. I am acquainted with most of these lawyers and respect them as great lawyers. However, African American lawyers such as Scottie Allen, Royce West, Russell Wilson, Michael Todd, George Ashford, Ray Jackson, Kenneth Weatherspoon, Stanley Mays, Willie Ingram, Anthony Lyons, Steve Pipkins and others could easily be on the list. Additionally, female lawyers like Deandra Grant, Chika Anyiam, Susan Anderson and many others could also be on the list.
The Likely Cause of the Problem
Although there’s no proof or suggestion that D-Magazine or the white males who made the list are racist, sexist or nefarious in any way, the question still remains why are there no blacks and few women on D-Magazine’s “best of” lists? Is it because black and female lawyers are just bad lawyers generally? Any rational and decent person rejects that notion outright. Instead, the more likely cause of the low minority and female showing is threefold.
First, black lawyers only comprise 5% of the lawyers in Dallas County, according to the state bar. That’s a very small number especially in a county that’s 22.3% black. Moreover, five percent of a list of ten or even fifteen of anything would not include one. Hence, the dearth of black lawyers on D-Magazine’s “best of” list could just be a matter of statistical reality. The focus therefore might ought to be placed on increasing the percentage of black lawyers in Dallas or the much easier proposition of D-Magazine increasing its “best of” list to at least twenty lawyers. Statistically, at least one black lawyer should make a list of twenty “best of” lawyers.
Minority Lawyers Not Voting
Second, minority and female lawyers are obviously not participating in D-Magazine’s voting process. That could be a spill over from the problem mentioned above or maybe the vast majority of Dallas lawyers could not care less what D-Magazine thinks and/or they presume that D-Magazine is not the place most people query to find a lawyer. While either of these propositions might be true, D-Magazine does reach a sizeable percentage of Dallas’ population. And that percentage should know the truth, i.e., black and female lawyers are not subpar lawyers in comparison to their white male counterparts and most are very capable and competent to provide top-notch legal representation to their clients.
Voting Pool Too Small
Third, D-Magazine’s pool of voters is generally too small. Perhaps D-Magazine should widen its pool of voters by including members of the community at-large, including community members from the so-called southern sector of Dallas County. Community members are the former and current clients of the lawyers. And who knows the capabilities of lawyers better than their former and current clients? A relatively small group of white male lawyers vetting, backslapping, congratulating, nominating and voting for each other is hardly the best way to determine who are the best lawyers in a county the size of Dallas.
To D-Magazine’s credit, however, Ms. Lynch seemed very interested in my comments and concerns. She was already planning to reach out to more minority bar associations to hopefully increase the percentage of minority and female lawyers who participate in the voting process. Perhaps she has some sensitivity to this issue because she’s a female. So for whatever it’s worth, let’s hope that in future publications, D-Magazine finds a more inclusive and fairer method to compile a list of the best lawyers in Dallas.