Students of Color and Law School: Luring vs. Learning – @TheNLJ

“At law schools across the country, the message students of color perceive is pretty simple: Conformity is the key to success. If you don’t conform and fit in, you will not succeed. It may seem that I am oversimplifying, but allow me to explain. Only 4.8 percent of the 1.2 million lawyers in America are African-American, according to the American Bar Association, and only 1.7 percent of all law firm partners are black, according to the National Association for Law Placement. At my law school, 34 students are black. We account for 8 percent of the school’s total population of 420 students. Given that minorities generally, and African-Americans specifically, make up such a small percentage of the legal profession, there is immense pressure to conform to the majority culture, blend in with peers and to play down one’s own ethnic or racial background.”

 Read more: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202654681932/Law-School%27s-Lessons-in-Frustration-and-Alienation#ixzz31bOafRKk

Applications to law schools are at their all time low. More prospects are opting out of applying to law school due to the current state of the economy and the grim projects by the DOL regarding jobs for lawyers in the next 5 years. The ABA Journal reports that “approximately two-thirds of all ABA-accredited law schools, or 135 schools, experienced a decline in first-year enrollment this year from the fall of 2012. At 81 of those schools, first-year enrollment declines exceeded 10 percent” (2013). So what does this mean to students of color that hope to apply for law school? Is this the best time to apply, since law schools are desperate for bodies? Will my diversity out weigh my scores/GPA due to the law school’s need for enrollment?

No.

Law schools spend loads of money promoting the “diversity” of their student body. One may think that during this time of low applications, exhibiting your diversity will get you one step closer to that acceptance letter. However, today’s diversity is defined pretty broadly by law school and the Law School Admissions Council:

RACIAL/ETHNIC MINORITY APPLICANTS

We use the term diversity broadly to include all aspects of human differences, including but not limited to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, disability, and age.

LGBT APPLICANTS

We use the term diversity broadly to include all aspects of human differences, including but not limited to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, disability, and age.


In layman’s terms: your race/ethnicity is not an important factor. 

So, if this is true, why do law schools participate in Students of Color (SOC) pre-law conferences, publicize photo-ops with SOC on their “Diversity” law page, etc.? The Lure. It’s all about the perception of an inclusive law school that admits every walk of life while adhering to the white supremacist teaching of a pervasive legal system. The 3L that wrote the article above gives us a glimpse of this facade. The fact that the 3L exerted his opinion about a racially and socially conscious hypo and the professor brushed over the response rather than encourage dialogue, shows the lack of interest law schools have in actually promoting diversity in their schools and teachings. Law schools are more concerned about preparing students to pass a test rather than preparing them for the real world (a pattern we see all too often in our education system).

The change on how diversity is defined places SOC in a difficult position. LSAC’s Diversity definition removes all notions of multiculturalism and replaces it with a concept that an entire classroom can be filled with white people as long as someone is gay, poor, old, catholic, ADHD, or European. I guess in a group full of white people, this is diversity, but to the rest of the world this is America’s white privilege at it’s best.

SOC should be weary of law schools that publicize diversity but only have 12 SOC in their programs. Be prepared to teach you’re fellow classmates about diversity. And lastly, don’t conform.

P.S. here’s my rant about the public education, LSAT, and the legal system….

Frankly, law schools expect SOC that have endured 13 years of sub-par education and struggled to acquire post-secondary degrees, to take an exam created by and designed for elitists, white males to be admitted into a colorblind legal system that prepares them to advocate and sustain said system that continuously destroys their communities.

But as my favorite law professor once said, “sometimes you have to uses the builder’s tools to reconstruct his house.” Sounds like some slavery shit to me but, I see what he’s saying…wear the mask. I don’t know about that.

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