Percentage of Black Law Students Drops

With high law school debt and low attorney employment we are left to ponder whether the decrease in African American enrollment is indeed a bad thing.  According to The American Lawyer, a study by Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic noted the following:

Over the relevant 15-year period, the study — conducted in conjunction with the Society of American Law Teachers, found that the total number of African-Americans and Mexican-Americans entering law school dropped from 4,142 in 1993 to 4,060 in 2008. Combined with the increase in overall law school capacity (from 43,520 to 46,500), that translated into a 7.5 percent and 11.7 percent decrease of African-American and Mexican-American first-year law students, respectively.

“It’s like imagining Carnegie Hall, which seats almost 3,000 people, filled to capacity but no Mexican-Americans or African-Americans allowed in,” says Conrad Johnson, the Columbia professor who oversees the clinic, regarding the additional spots created over the past 15 years. “For many African-American and Mexican-American students, law school is an elusive goal.”

How elusive? Between 2003 and 2008, 61 percent of African-American and 46 Mexican-American applicants were rejected by every law school to which they applied, according to Law School Admissions Council data reviewed by the clinic’s researchers. The “shut-out” rate for white applicants was 34 percent.

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