The purpose of this document is to provide law schools with strategies that can serve as a roadmap for increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of their student bodies — effectively changing the face of the legal profession. This roadmap will focus on five tactics:
Tactic 1: Assess current diversity efforts.
Tactic 2: Devise diversity goals and objectives.
Tactic 3: Design enrollment management practices with diversity goals in mind.
Tactic 4: Redesign the application form.
Tactic 5: Measure the impact of admission factors on student outcomes.
The United States is an amazingly diverse country. Almost 40 percent of the population identify as people of color.1 Unfortunately, however, the legal profession does not reflect this diversity. People of color account for only about 15 percent of the estimated 1.2 million lawyers in the U.S.2
Moreover, two-thirds of Americans do not hold a college degree, but in a recent survey only 28% of law students indicated that they were first-generation college graduates.3 The dearth of racial and socioeconomic diversity we see in legal education today reflects this statistic and makes evident that pathways to law school and legal practice remain constrained for many racial, ethnic and economically disadvantaged groups. Subsequently, the legal profession fails to reflect the people it serves. This should change, and can.
This is the first volume of a multi-part series of guides focused on providing meaningful and actionable tactics for increasing law student diversity.
Other volumes in the Roadmap to Enrolling Diverse Law School Classes series include, Developing a Diversity Plan, Assessing Recruitment Efforts, Contextualizing Admissions Factors, and Leveraging Scholarships. The series will be released in its entirety by early 2019.
To materially increase the number of law students from underrepresented backgrounds, we must commit to researching, implementing and evaluating varied means of achieving this goal.
1 United States Census Bureau, Quick Facts, Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217
2 ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, 10-Year Trend in Lawyer Demographics, Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/market_research/nationallawyer-population-10-year-demographics-revised.authcheckdam.pdf
3 Law School Survey of Student Engagement, Law School Scholarship Policies: Engines of Inequality, Annual Report, Retrieved from http://lssse.indiana.edu/annual-results/; United States Census Bureau, Quick Facts, Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217