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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, March 24, 2006

Livingston on "Diversity," the ABA, and the Law Schools

Tax Prof Michael Livingston (Rutgers-Camden) offers his views on "Diversity," the ABA, and the Law Schools:

The ABA issue has attracted attention because it involves such a clear-cut, bald-faced interference in the operation of American law schools. But it is only the latest example of the damage done to law faculties by diversity programs: damage which, I think, has less to do with the candidates themselves than with the process that produces and nurtures them. Broadly speaking, these problems divide into three categories. (I will speak here largely of diversity hiring of faculty, although essentially the same issues apply to the student variety.)

The first problem relates to the organization of the hiring (admissions) process....

The second problem concerns the internal operation of the law school that hires on the basis of diversity criteria....

This leads to the third and in my view most significant problem with diversity programs: their effect on civility and free speech at the relevant institution....

Will the incipient rebellion against the ABA and AALS quell the ardor for diversity programs? I suspect not. The advocates of diversity find themselves today in more or less the same position as the advocates of segregation in the 1960s: they represent an ideology that one suspects even they realize is discredited, but pedal all the more furiously to keep it moving forward. Like the White Citizens Councils of the Civil Rights era, the ABA and AALS are attempting to intimidate the law schools into behavior that, if not actively illegal, is plainly defiant of the will of the courts and the emerging national majority. Sooner of later, they will fail. But old ideas and old professors die hard, and it won't be over anytime soon.

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If the ABA were serious about increasing the number of minority lawyers and lawyers from impoverished backgrounds, they'd bring back the LLB and make it a true bachelor's degree. An LLM preceded by a residency as an associate would be the prerequisite to unsupervised practice of law. By expanding the LLB to a four-year bachelor's degree, there would also be more opportunities for interdisciplinary study through the familiar double-major/dual-degree systems.

Posted by: Brian | Mar 24, 2006 8:21:37 AM