June 23, 2023

Protecting Diversity: Can We Afford to Throw Out Grutter Before Its Expiration Date?

Diversity Programs
Research and Data
Analyzing the Effects of Campus Diversity on Attrition, GPA, and Bar Passage in Law Students and Graduates


With affirmative action decisions pending from the United States Supreme Court in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, this study examines whether the educational benefits that flow from diversity acknowledged in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) persist twenty years later in a law school context. Using data from the American Bar Association (ABA), the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), we model law school campus diversity as a predictor of law-school-level attrition (n = 498), law-student-level GPA (n = 4,730), and law-student-level first-time bar passage (n = 4,461) among underrepresented law students of color. Campus diversity is operationalized as a U.S. News & World Report-style index. Our findings demonstrate modest benefits associated with campus diversity for student retention, final law school GPA, and first-time bar passage among underrepresented law students of color.

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Executive Summary