Posts Tagged ‘mentor’

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.

Conversation I Overheard at a Cafe: Lawyer vs. Mentee

The conversation was already in progress when I grabbed my seat. Pure entertainment. The 40+ year old guy is discussing career options to a young lady who I figure is in her first year of undergrad. Alot of her answers were wrought with I don’t knows and uncomfortable snickers and a reference to high school. The guy is boring her about when he trained bodybuilders and how it was his policy not to date the women he trained, but got an exception for one lady who he did not end up marrying. Apparently that lady relocated from whatever state she was from and ended up going to law school with him. This is such an inappropriate conversation to have with a barely legal adult–pervert. Then he brags that has a law degree from George Washington (GW) School of Law. Then I heard the words “when I used to practice law I enjoyed it.” “I appreciate my law degree though it has nothing to do with what I’m doing now.” Then asks her was she going to work and her wage. She makes $7.50 an hour working at Arby’s. Wait this non-degree holder makes only $2.50 less than most Census workers? The ‘mentor’ then tries to schmuck (verb usage) her into graduate school, telling her she will make 10x than what she makes now at Arby’s. Now mind you he already mentioned that he went to law school but isn’t using his degree, yet encourages her to get even more education. He bought into his own b.s. and was selling it to an uninformed consumer. Oh he then asks her whether she was familiar with twitter and good with [sic] social networks account and when  she is established maybe she can work in one of his workshops–no clue what he was refereing to. Wait, you’re her mentor but telling her to become succcessful with no real guidance so you can benefit from her education and probably rip-off her salary. Some mentor. A Latino waitress walks by and he decides to impress the mentee with his Spanish language skills. Then he says, I decided to speak Spanish to stress the importance to her of learning a foreign language. She seemed so clueless that I wanted to write all of these blogs on a piece of paper and slip it in her bag. He was a b.s. artist and not even a good one but anything would sound impressive to an unwitting 18 year old.

On a Lighter Note…: Television Images We See of Black Attorneys

.yes I had to put legalease in the caption

I was thinking about the images of the 1980s-present of black lawyers I saw on television. Of course we remember Clair Huxtable, the very witty-social host-mother-wife-attorney whom could be seen polishing the family silverware in the kitchen. I think for me that was the first time I saw an image of a black woman as a successful lawyer married to a doctor who both had deep respect for their cultural roots and family values.

Of course I remember Maxine Shaw from ‘Living Single’, Freddie when she was accepted to the prestigious yet fictious HBCU Hillman Law School, the prosecutor-District Attorney Carter (Courtney Vance) from Law & Order, Joan and William, the corporate associates on ‘Girlfriends’.

Unfortunately, these shows didn’t show the reality of many Black American attorneys who didn’t attend elite schools, weren’t a part of the black upper class (yes they do exist in America, read: Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham), nor part of the black or white connected clubs which I see is somewhat intertwined with the previous ideal.

As a matter of fact, the spin-off of ‘Girlfriends’ was based on Joan’s younger sister struggling through medical school while seeing a famous rookie football player, as well as in ‘A Different World’ the character Kim’s father is a policeman and she struggles working two jobs through undergrad and struggles through medical school. Why is law school so glamorized while television continues to show medical residents and doctors struggle to balance their lives with their hoped for career. Maybe because so many attorneys in reality are that stereotype: conniving, deceptive, trained to have a tough exterior where weakness is frowned upon. I guess in a way there aren’t enough strong attorneys with the courage to expose the inherent pitfalls in attending law school, because that would be weak, that would be an “admission” that you didn’t make it, well that’s just not being a lawyer!

With these pictorial depictions flashed in front of millions, who would be a poor or middle class prospective law student’s mentor to steer them to the right school or even guide them as to whether law is an appropriate field? How do these potential mentors access them? One way is through these blogs.