Minorities Decrease Enrollment in Law Schools: They Figured Out the Game

In January Life’s Mockery posted: Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery .

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Though minorities increased obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and their LSATs score, decided to opt out of the law school, bury your financial future game. Well, it’s being reported again: 

Black Presence in Law Schools Dwindling
by Kenneth Mallory
We know how sincerely you’re concerned about minorities becoming a part of this noble profession. Or do you really see them as fresh hunting ground to lure them into the financial debt game via Sallie Mae; just like the mortgage industry did with home loans. How about improving the statistics of CURRENT unemployed minorities instead of trying to rope more into the dizzying maze of professional no-where-land.
“Miles to Go” finds that African-American representation in law is less than other professions, like teaching and medicine. Wow, this makes me feel better. Medicine is more lucrative, characterized by hard science and you practically help (well ideally) others improve their health. I’ve heard for years that education field need more teachers (primary), and even a call for reform regarding teachers’ salary.

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A report by the American Bar Association has found that the proportion of minorities, including Blacks and Hispanics, enrolling in law schools has decreased in the past two years. One way to keep your risk of living in this country at a decent level.

”Minority representation among law students has dropped for the past two years, from 20.6 percent in 2001-2002 to 20.3 percent in 2003-2004,” said the findings in the third edition of “Miles to Go: Progress of Minorities in the Legal Profession,” published by the ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession.

In addition, the report contends minorities are less apt than Whites to head to private law firms after leaving law school, more likely to resign from firms after three years there and ”continue to be grossly underrepresented in top level jobs, such as law partner and corporate general counsel.” Interesting, but where are the statistics on unemployed minority attorneys, you know the majority?

The report’s author, New York Law School Professor Elizabeth Chambliss, deemed the finding of reduced enrollment ”extremely troubling,” and, in an interview, discussed the under-representation of minorities in the profession. Yes, you believe that the legal industry has not tapped into a potential lucrative resource that will increase your yearly salary and boost your probability of obtaining tenure. It’s not troubling for minorities who have figured out your game and know that they will be treated like second class citizens throughout law school and after with ‘professors’ having such racist proclamations as “You went to law school?” They’re saving themselves from additional psychological damage from overt racism that professors and others guise as a form of wit with such back handed compliments. Minorities aren’t stupid enough to believe you have a genuine ‘concern’ that they’re not attending law school

”The legal profession already is one of the least racially integrated professions in the United States when all four minority groups [African-American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American] are aggregated,” she said. ”African-Americans, too, are represented at lower levels than in many comparable professions. In 2000, African-Americans made up only 3.9 percent of all lawyers, compared to 4.4 percent of physicians, 5.6 percent of college and university professors, 7.8 percent of computer scientists and 7.9 percent of accountants and auditors.”

Chambliss discussed the implications of such findings.

”The low level of Black representation in the profession may discourage promising Black students from considering law and limit Black lawyers’ chances to find mentors and role models within the law. And, to the extent that Black lawyers are more likely than others to be concerned with racial justice, discrimination, community development, and the like, the dearth of Black lawyers contributes to an already unequal access to lawyers in the United States.” Yes, discourage them, save them from a lifetime of Sallie Mae harassments, unemployment, the grits, the taunting, the presumptive “you’re here because of affirmative action.” How many decades have passed before you realized the false hope of upward mobility via law school. [See Life’s Mockery’s post for comments on legacy admissions, minorities, and chances for upward mobility: [University of Michigan Law Journal: Preserving a Racial Hierarchy: « Life’s Mockery]

The dean of admissions at a prominent area law school acknowledged a decline in the number of minorities enrolling in its program, while another said the number of Black applicants was declining. This is encouraging and tragic at the same time.

At the George Washington University Law School, Robert Stanek, associate dean for admissions and financial aid, said enrollment declined at the highly competitive school, which, according to the ABA, received more than 11,000 applications in 2004.

”Two, three and four years ago, we admitted a certain number of minority candidates, and usually the numbers that enrolled constituted about a third of the class,” said Stanek. ”Last year, our same number of offers of admission resulted in a much lower percentage registered. We didn’t see an application decline. We saw a decline in the numbers accepting our offer of admission.”

Stanek said school officials are still trying to ”digest exactly what [has] happened,” and, subsequently, have not initiated any new recruitment efforts for minority students. Minorities became weary of seeing their parent, sibling or spouse attend law school, saddle with debt, with little to no job prospect in the legal industry and the social environment of racism that permeates most law firms. I hope that clarifies it for you. Simply put, one gets tired of running into a brick wall, all the while expected to keep a smile on their face though the soul silently protests.

But Reginald McGahee, dean of admissions at Howard University Law School, perhaps the premiere African-American law school in the country, said the number of applicants applying to Howard Law and many other higher education institutions across the country has declined, especially among Black males.
Though most HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) are supported by minority attendance and this is a little daunting; but at the same time understandable. Though the social and educational experience is likely different than at other law schools, many have learned that a long-term strategy regarding standard of living and career is more of a priority.

”There is a universal drop in African-American males that are applying to law schools, and more specifically, higher education in general. And we’re seeing that same decline,” he said.

Law officials discussed obstacles that might preclude Blacks from pursuing careers in law, such as a growing disinterest in the profession and the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), which many feel is biased against Black law school applicants. Why must you assume that it is the LSAT that is discouraging minorities and not the legal industry itself, especially in light of a previous article stating that minorities actually have increased their LSAT scores over the past few years [Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery] it is this presumptive racism that Blacks don’t want to deal with.

Lawrence Baca, chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, said law schools can increase the number of minorities by having Black law school graduates reach out to Black students. If any Blacks do, I hope it is to be honest and warn them of the true reality of the legal industry in the United States.

”Any law school that wants to increase minority participation, or, particularly, Black participation, is going to have to get out and do some outreach work,” Baca said. ”The first thing that I would do if I was a law school is I would find my graduates of color, whatever racial or ethnic group it is, and ask them for their assistance in helping me identify folks and convincing folks to apply.” Outreach to Blacks? Why would they lower themselves to interacting with Black people, oh but then again the legal industry is a business so to repeat in Black Like Me: “We’ll do business with you…” Please spare us the ‘real concern’ facade and I hope 0Ls don’t fall for the attorney encouraging them to attend law school. This false prestige is disgusting, that’s why so many attorneys are so phony in their interactions because they’re deluded and continue to try to convince themselves and others about the industry. So the legal industry suggests using minority lawyers as the agent by which to their bidding and lead unwitting 0L sheep through to law school slaughter.

Baca said he believed a major reason Black students are not considering careers in law is because they lack role models in the profession and do not hear about positive things lawyers have done with their careers.  [emphasis mine]. Exactly, which is why for the most part they should not go.

He also said lawyers have not been pictured in a positive light in the media, possibly deterring students from considering law careers.

”The legal trade for one reason or another has not had the best reputation in the press, and to the extent that it may be causing students to not apply to law school, the way to get past that is for our folks to go into the law schools and say, ‘I don’t care about what you wrote about in the paper. Here’s what I did last week with my career,”’ said Baca. Yes, honesty in what has happened to their legal career, that would be great, please note that it won’t get the result you want, but will simply deter more potential students (hopefully) from enrolling.

But a major concern voiced by many future Black lawyers, as well as those advocating increased diversity in the profession, is the hurdle the LSAT poses to Black students.

”One of the main barriers to increasing diversity among law students is law schools’ heavy reliance on the LSAT. African Americans and other minority groups score lower, on average, than Whites, on the LSAT, yet law schools’ reliance on this measure of aptitude has increased markedly over time,”

Chambliss said in a statement. ”One point differences on the LSAT can make the difference between admission and rejection by law schools, even though such differences are not statistically significant, and even though the LSAT does not predict success as a lawyer, however measured.”

Stanek agreed that the LSAT is quickly becoming the most important factor in law school admissions.

”Is it overriding all other factors? I don’t think so — yet,” he said. McGahee said some currently believe the LSAT is biased.

”The main thing that we have to realize [is] that there’s a lot of debate out there right now that there are some inherent biases that go along with the LSAT. Being at Howard, we’re more sensitive to that than some other institutions in the countries may be. But what we can’t get away from [is] that, right now, there is no other test to properly evaluate and predict whether a student will or won’t do well in law school,” he said.

McGahee said Black students should take time to ensure they are prepared for the LSAT. But according to Chambliss, law schools shouldn’t rely as much on the standardized test.

”Law schools concerned with increasing the diversity of their student bodies need to focus less on the LSAT and more on other measures of achievement, including undergraduate grades and work history,” she said.

Although the LSAT is important, I sincerely hope that the media and the legal industry stop characterizing it as some unbeknown reason why this is likely an issue for minorities. One is having access to prepatory materials, which I would say 6-10 years ago was more difficult than now. Information technology has decreased the barrier of access and some may not understand how important the LSAT is in paving the path to their legal career. It’s more of an issue of preparation and not lack of ability or intelligence.

But Kim Keenan, president of the National Bar Association, a group representing thousands of Black lawyers, discussed the possible ramifications the underrepresentation of African Americans in law will have for the Black community in the future.I agree and discussed this here [Law School Admissions Lag Among Minorities January 6, 2010 « Life’s Mockery]

”Ultimately, at some point, you will not be able to find lawyers of color,” said Keenan. I hope you do not think this is by happenstance.


  1. […] also see: Minorities Decrease Enrollment in Law Schools: They Figured Out the Game (07/16/2010; Life’s Mockery) Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. John Bungsolaphagus Said:

    God I hope the cruxt of the above articles and postings is indeed true. I certainly hope that black folk have figured out that law is not for them. That the devils that run law see to it daily that black folks mostly cannot profit from law and that they are certainly not welcome in most of law. The elitist, racist and classist devils that run law have no use for those who are not they. The outcast folks include non-elite whites and even non-elite jews. But black folk, other than an occasional token associate, staff attorney or doc reviewer, are certainly not welcome in the devil’s legal profession.

    Hopefully black folk are becoming too smart and practical to continue to fall for the lawland scam.

  3. ThickSkin Said:

    Thick skin is required, but it’s not always enough. I honestly don’t think that skin color alone is the largest factor contributing to minority success. The major factors are socioeconomic. Underprivileged whites face similar hurdles simply because their parents, like many minorities (generally Asians are not included in this group) do not prepare in advance by placing their children in the “right” schools from kindergarten on. I am black and have never understood these issues because I have never had these problems because my parents invested in a quality education.

    I was a golden child in law school: moot court, law review, top 20% all while getting married in 2L and having a baby 3L. Got a job in Biglaw and am still there 6 years later (and 2 kids)…I will be up for partner next fall (although the economy and the mommy track makes it unlikely that I’ll actually GET it), but I would take it were it offered. I LOVE my job. I adore my coworkers and I know that it’s because I circulate in their world. My father is a member at a country club with the mayor, my husband (also black) is vice president of a large company in the area and pals with some of the partners, and my mother knows the right people. Bottom line is that It’s money, not color that really matters.

    I was in BLSA and keep in contact with my law school colleagues and I’ve watched them, one by one, fall by the wayside and not for lack of trying. Some of them actually did better academically than I did, but they are discouraged. And for good reason. It’s hard to be someone that you’re not and until firms realize that it’s ok for people to just be themselves, and invest in positive associate mentors who DO have the right social skills, it won’t change.

    • anonymous Said:

      it seems from what you’re saying that it’s pedigree/community status, and not just money, that really matter. you have a tawny pedigree — your father belongs to the mayor’s country club, your mother knows the right people, etc.

      my parents are very wealthy but they never had any interest in bourgeois clubs or activities. on the other hand, my cousins, whose parents are personal friends of a former u.s. president and first lady and are dedicated board members of a well known museum, always garnered a lot of academic support and have had few problems with securing or fitting in at their big firm jobs or collecting recognition awards for achievement and performance. in our case, it’s not money but social pedigree that separates our achievements.

  4. NoJob4U Said:

    It’s a phenomenon I’ve witnessed and personally endured over the years where they will let you in the door, but they will go out of their way not to help you or to make the job so difficult that you want to quit.

    Of course, whenever the raw data comes out about who has left the legal field, they gloss over it with something that turns the blame back onto the people who quit. It slips people’s minds that they’ve had to deal with low pay or hostile work environments. I don’t think most women or minorities sign up for the legal profession just so they can be an example of overcoming adversity on the job.

    • Anonymous Said:

      Exactly. They admit you to the law schools, throw a few jobs your way, but there’s no training, no mentoring, no quality assignments, and then when review time comes around, they’re just puzzled by your “inadequate” performance. Then they gently suggest that there isn’t a right “fit,” and perhaps you should leave. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have heard this sorry tale from black lawyers used as tokens by BigLaw–this is why you see all the whining on ATL about affirmative action, but you never see any black faces on BigLaw websites.

  5. Anonymous Said:

    This is the best news I have heard in a LONG time–thank god someone is waking up and smelling the coffee!

  6. JL Said:

    Haha good, apparently minority law graduates have the integrity to tell the truth about employment prospects and warn other minorities. As the scam blogs have shown, there is a lot of hostility towards the truth, and the truth is that most people are fucked over without connections, minorities just have even less chances than their unconnected white counterparts because of certain law firms’ racist tendencies. But rest assured most people shouldn’t be going to law school.

    A lot of the scam bloggers are white, so I hope when white enrollment starts going down the media has the integrity to start making excuses. It won’t, but it’d be hilarious to see them recycle this junk.

  7. Nando Said:

    Outreach to minority students is a damn ruse. The schools want black attorneys to do *their* bidding. And you can bet that if they get some alums to take the bait, the schools will make certain that they choose those who have the “correct” attitude – to ensure that these disgruntled JDs do not spread the truth about the shrinking legal industry to future students/victims.

    I am glad to see that more minorities are onto The Game. They are doing better on the LSAT, they are being admitted, and many are declining to enroll in law school. Although, Randall Kennedy at Harvard Law thinks this is a national tragedy.

    Why should a person of color take on $130K for a product that will most likely NOT benefit them? Even those who are skilled and lucky enough to crack Biglaw are burned out and treated like crap. Who the hell would want to go through all that, after “making it”?

    • A Law School Victim Said:

      I agree, minorities have been through enough without adding law school debt and overpriced unemployment to their burden.

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