Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Do Law Schools Use The LSAT To Limit Black Enrollment?

Inside Higher Ed, Do Law Schools Limit Black Enrollment With LSAT?:

An increasing number of undergraduate colleges — looking to attract more applicants and to diversify their applicant pools — have been going test optional in admissions.

Law schools also worry about attracting more applicants and diversifying their student bodies. Some have started accepting the Graduate Record Exam as an alternative to the Law School Admission Test, but the LSAT remains the dominant test in law school admissions. Concerns about diversity in legal education could grow if -- in a future Supreme Court decision -- colleges face new limits or an outright ban on their ability to consider race in admissions.

A new study argues that law schools' use of the LSAT is effectively limiting black enrollment in law schools [The Marginalization of Black Aspiring Lawyers, 32 FIU L. Rev. 489 (2019)]. The study is by Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence and a longtime expert on diversity in legal education. ...

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Melissa Harris Thirsk, vice president and chief marketing officer of the Law School Admissions Council, which sponsors the LSAT, disputed Taylor's conclusions. She noted that the council supports efforts to provide free test preparation and academic advising for minority (and other) potential law school applicants. Thirsk disputed the idea that the LSAT is responsible for black law school applicants being rejected.

"To help improve the representation of African Americans in law school student bodies, it is important to understand the factors that are keeping acceptance rates somewhat lower than rates among other groups and then to develop strategies to alter those factors," she wrote. "The trends we have observed in applications from African American candidates that affect outcomes include the factors that Mr. Taylor identifies such as submitting applications late in the application cycle and LSAT scores that fall in lower bands. We see other factors as well such as [grades] and age at time of application."

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After filing a SCOTUS appeal, 3 federal actions,  3 federal appeals and taking on 5 responding attorneys, the only thing the LSAT has proven to be a valid, reliable predictor of, is it will be shackles on the feet of capable people. In trying to maintain my constitutional rights, I had to combat some of the most complex procedural doctrine, that some attorneys don't even want to be bothered with and yet, I know that my LSAT score is the only factor law schools are considering. I think that what I've already done is the valid and reliable predictor of my potential success in law school and on the bar, but the LSAT allows law schools, to  disregard all that. So yes, the test serves "to" limit black enrollment.

Posted by: Kyung Lee Trotter | Apr 20, 2019 7:28:28 AM

Lol "to."

The law schools are very confused it seems.

On one hand, they use the LSAT to discriminate.

On the other hand, they use affirmative action to boost URM enrollment.

Sounds like they need admissions conversion therapy or something.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 18, 2019 8:20:45 AM

I don't understand how law schools can be expected to have the percentage of African-American students be the same as in the general population when blacks enter and graduate from college at a much lower population than Asians and Whites. Can somebody explain this to me?

Posted by: Sam | Apr 17, 2019 2:22:13 PM

If we accept that the LSAT is a somewhat reliable indicator for success in law school and on the Bar Exam (which to the best of my knowledge, it is still regarded as), then how can its use be malevolent if it happens to produce a student body not perfectly aligned with the nation's demographics?

Unequal inputs lead to unequal outputs. It is that simple. Black students disproportionately come from single parent families, lower economic situations, and also a different culture (see: East Asians for a contrasting culture - speaking in the broadest of generalities only).

Expecting proportional representation among every ethnic group is willful blindness, stupidity, or both. Black law students are already admitted in many cases with credentials significantly below those of other groups, creating the mismatch problem cited by Justice Thomas and others. If applicants of a certain demographic lack the credentials, they won't get in. That's life. Thirsk is correct.

Posted by: Todd | Apr 17, 2019 10:26:22 AM

This post's headline, with its "to", is misleading. No one thinks law schools use the LSAT strategically "in order to" lower minority enrollment. The reason they use the LSAT is because the ABA essentially makes them (or at least has until very recently).

Posted by: Jason Yackee | Apr 17, 2019 6:23:56 AM

No kidding.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Apr 17, 2019 5:45:28 AM