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Does Affirmative Action Reduce the Number of Black Lawyers?

By Ian Ayres and Richard R.W. Brooks

Abstract

Richard Sander\u27s study of affirmative action at U.S. law schools highlights a real and serious problem: the average black law student\u27s grades are startlingly low. With the exception of traditionally black law schools (where blacks still make up 43.8% of the student body), the median black law school grade point average is at the 6.7th percentile of white law students. This means that only 6.7% of whites have lower grades than 50% of blacks. One finds a similar result at the other end of the distribution—as only 7.5% of blacks have grades that are higher than the white median. Given these low grades, it should not be surprising that black students are less likely to graduate from law school and less likely to pass the bar. In fact, in the LSAC data, 83.2% of whites graduated and passed the bar within five years of entering law school, while only 57.5% of blacks entering law schools became lawyers. Sander has made an important contribution by simply bringing national attention to the racial disparities in law school grades and bar passage rates. This represents another instance of the pervasive pattern of observed black-white disparities in health, occupational, and educational outcomes

Topics: Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:digitalcommons.law.yale.edu:fss_papers-2230
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