Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 16, 2021

McGinnis: Why The Lawyers Cartel Is Pushing For Woke Law Schools

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Why the Lawyers Cartel Is Pushing for Woke Law Schools, by John O. McGinnis (Northwestern):

ABA Legal Ed (2021)The American Bar Association is proposing new accrediting standards for law schools that would make them more race-conscious, more politically correct and less intellectually diverse. The proposal should fail on the merits. It’s so bad it should also prompt reconsiderations of the ABA’s role as accreditor of law schools and of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent on racial preferences in law-school admissions.

Having lawyers regulate entrance into their own profession has always been anomalous. The ABA has an abiding interest in making entry more expensive—it decreases competition for its current members. But now the ABA wants to use wokeness to raise operating costs, impose ideological uniformity, and reduce academic freedom. The new standards would require law schools to show continuous “progress” toward diversifying their faculties and student bodies. They would be encouraged to do it on a timetable, as if a school can predict when someone of a particular race who meets often specialized curricular and research needs will show up. The ABA also wants to add new diversity requirements for ethnicity and gender identity.

Notably absent is any requirement that faculty be intellectually diverse. The ABA is content to have professors singing from the same political hymnal so long they create the favored mix of races, genders and sexual preferences. A recent in the Journal of Legal Studies [The Legal Academy's Ideological Uniformity] shows that a hiring focus on many of the ABA’s preferred characteristics makes law faculties even more left-wing than they already are.

The ABA’s total disregard for viewpoint variety undermines the diversity rationale that has been used to justify discrimination in law-school admissions. If adopted, it could finally encourage the Supreme Court to abandon the notion that choosing students by demography advances the life of the mind. ...

The proposed new standards would undoubtedly provide jobs for diversity bureaucrats and consultants. Thus the cost of legal education would rise, making it less affordable, particularly for those of modest means.

To be sure, some law schools asked the ABA to add the new requirements. But that is what cartels do: require standardized services rather than the product differentiation that encourages competition. Nonprofits, like law schools, also have incentives to indulge in politics as well as price distortion, because their stakeholders substitute ideological satisfactions for the additional profits a corporate cartel could earn. Thus, there is even less reason to have lawyers control the production of lawyers than there is to have milk producers regulate the production of milk. At least farmers don’t have dogmas to impose.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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