Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — When Goodwin Liu was sworn-in as a member of the seven-judge California Supreme Court in 2011, he became the court’s fourth sitting member of Asian descent.

A trend that isn’t seen as commonly nation wide, according to a new study of the country’s top legal positions.

Other state supreme courts across the nation combined have just a handful of Asian-American justices. Additionally, Asian-American representation on other state courts, the federal bench and among the country’s top prosecutorial roles is extremely sparse.

These findings were published in a new study led by Liu and a team of Yale University law students. It provides a portrait of Asian-American members of the legal community, and comes to this conclusion: They are well-represented among the nation’s most respected attorneys, but still absent from some of the nation’s highest posts.

“They have a foot in the door in virtually every sector of the legal profession,” Liu told The Associated Press. “The question now is how wide that door’s going to swing open for them.”

Liu’s parents were doctors who migrated to the U.S. in the late 1960s from Taiwan. None of his surroundings suggested he’d one day have a legal career — his parents stressed the importance of studying math and science. Liu knew no attorneys growing up, and like his parents, nearly became a doctor.

The difference came in the form of the mentorship Liu received. He had two Asian-American role models: U.S. Rep. Bob Matsui and former Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh.

Liu became a law professor and associate dean at the University of California, Berkeley, before President Barack Obama nominated him in 2010 for a prestigious federal appeals court seat. His name was even floated as a potential candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court, however, Republicans derailed his nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu was labeled as too liberal and took exception to his outspoken opposition to Samuel Alito’s 2006 appointment to the high court.

Asian-Americans are among the nation’s fastest-growing racial groups and make up more than five percent of the population. They make up an even larger percentage of law school students, with a significant number graduating from top institutions.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.