Law Students

Statistics suggest 'reverse Robin Hood scheme' by law schools, prof says

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The percentage of black and Latino students entering law school last year was at a record high, but those groups may be subsidizing the cost of law school for their more privileged peers.

Writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, St. Louis University law professor Aaron Taylor says the statistics suggest “a reverse Robin Hood scheme that is as regressive as it is indefensible.” Taylor is director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement.

Law schools are accepting a greater percentage of applicants, according to Taylor. The admission rate among all law-school applicants increased from 31 percent in 2010 to 44 percent in the fall of 2015. Twenty-four law schools in 2015 had admission rates of at least 70 percent, compared with just two in 2010.

At the same time, the percentage of black and Latino students entering law school has increased, from 15 percent in 2010 to 21 percent last year—the highest point ever.

But the Law School Survey of Student Engagement suggests black and Latino students are shouldering the highest costs. In 2015, about 60 percent of blacks or Latinos said they expected to graduate with more than $100,000 in law school debt, compared to 40 percent of whites and Asians. That may be because law schools are giving scholarships to those with the highest LSAT scores, and the beneficiaries are less likely to be black and Latino, according to Taylor.

“Today, with higher law-school tuition rates and lower expectations of benefits for graduates,” Taylor writes, “financial-aid policies that foist the highest costs on the poorest students are untenable—and unethical.”

Related article: “Study finds widening gap in expected law school debt based on race and LSAT score”

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