Law Schools

Law school diversity improves, but not at most prestigious schools

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The percentage of black and Hispanic students attending law school is increasing, but not at the most prestigious schools, a law professor’s study has found.

Saint Louis University School of Law professor Aaron Taylor examined the period from 2010, when first-year law school enrollment peaked, to 2013, when 1L enrollment declined by about a quarter, the National Law Journal reports.

Taylor found (PDF) that minority enrollment fell during this period, but not as much as the overall drop in enrollment. As a result, the proportion of minority students increased from 25.5 percent to nearly 30 percent during that time.

Taylor divided ABA-approved schools into five groups, based on the median LSAT scores of their students and examined changes in diversity over the time period.

Minority students fared worst at law schools ranked in the top 20 percent for LSAT scores, Taylor found. This group had decreases in actual numbers of students of color, as well as the proportion of minority students. The other four groups had increased percentages of students of color.

A majority of law schools in the bottom 20 percent had proportional and actual increases in students of color—the only tier to make such a showing. This tier was also the only one to show increases in actual numbers and percentage of black students.

Taylor tells the National Law Journal he credits the lower-tier schools with helping improve the diversity of the legal profession. But he says prestige schools should also do their part. “Schools that can ensure good career prospects aren’t making diversity a priority.”

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