We have been discussing diversity on corporate boards. How is diveristy in law schools doing? Not well, apparently.
On the one hand, the numbers look favorable. The number of African Americans and Mexican Americans "have been applying to law schools in relatively constant numbers." Moreover, quality has improved. As one report writes: "These African-American and Mexican-American applicants are doing better than ever on the leading indicators used by law schools to determine admissibility: undergraduate grade point average and LSAT scores."
These hopeful numbers can be juxtaposed against the growing availability of a legal education. The number of ABA credited law schools has jumped from 176 in 1992 to 200 in 2008, adding an addtional 3000 spots for incoming students.
Yet the impact on these groups has not been favorable.
- The percentage representation of both groups has actually trended downward since 1993. These groups account for a significantly smaller percentage of the 2008 entering class than the 1993 entering class. Indeed, there was a 7.5% decrease in the proportion of African Americans in the 2008 class as compared with the 1993 class. There was a 11.7% decrease in the proportion of Mexican Americans in the 2008 class as compared with the proportion entering law school 15 years ago.
Indeed, "there are fewer African-American and Mexican-American matriculants in the 2008 class (4,060 combined) than existed in the Fall 1993 class (4,142 combined)."
Board have an obligation to ensure a more diverse collection of directors. Law schools also have the same responsibility. As with boards, some of the solution is to use alternative (but high quality) criteria to expand the potential pool of directors.
Law schools likely must do the same thing.