The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law
Diversity In Law Schools, Diversity in the Legal Profession: Recent history and a few facts
Law school admissions show a disturbing trend: although students of color have near-parity with white students’ GPAs and LSAT scores, the percentage and number of minority students (especially African-American and Latino students) admitted to law schools has declined significantly since 1993.
A Columbia University study notes the 15-27% decrease in law school admissions for African-Americans and Mexican-Americans.
(The full survey of LSAC data, led by Conrad Johnson, is available at <>)
What’s happening, as the American population becomes more diverse, is that the lawyer corps and judges are remaining predominantly white,
—John Nussbaumer, associate dean of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. (source: Fewer Blacks and Mexican-Americans at Law Schools, The New York Times, 1-6-2010)
A comparison of law school classes of 1993 and 2008 shows a 7.5% reduction in the number of African Americans and an 11.7% reduction in Mexican Americans in the respective classes. This despite an increase of over 3,000 additional seats available at law schools over the same period of time. While the percentage of students of all backgrounds applying to law school were statistically the same in 2008 as they were in 1993, it is important to note that during the same period, 61% of African American applicants and 46% of Mexican American applicants were denied acceptance at American law schools, compared to a 34% rejection rate for Caucasian American applicants.
Non-white students made up only 19% of total first-year law school enrollment in school year 2010-2011; African-Americans enrolled in law school made up only 5% of the total student population. Data reveals that 52% of African American students are in the bottom tenth of their first-year law school classes, while only 8% are in the top half. Poor academic performance in the first year of law school creates a nearly insurmountable hurdle in securing many high paying and prestigious positions upon graduation. Efforts to impact diversity within the legal profession must begin well before the law school admission process.
Targeted programmatic emphasis is necessary early on in the academic life of a child. Students as early as middle school require programming that develops high order thinking skills and other keys to success, not just in middle and high school but in higher education, successful engagement in law school admissions and ultimately those skills critical to bar exam passage.
To encourage diverse students to reach the high levels of educational achievement necessary to enter law school, JTBF offers year-round programs starting at the middle-school level, as well as intensive summer workshops that nurture an interest in the law. Through mentorship, education, and outreach, JTBF supports the continual educational achievement of our students.
ISBA/JTBF Law and Leadership Institute
This coming summer the Illinois State Bar Association will join forces with Just The Beginning Foundation (a diversity pipeline organization) combining to provide Illinois high school students the opportunity to participate in legal exposure programming designed to inspire interest in the legal profession amongst youth who might not typically be exposed to careers in the law. This two week educational program is the ultimate merger of combining JTBF’s Summer Legal Institute (SLI) and the Illinois Law and Leadership Institute (ILLI) focusing both groups efforts to promote legal education and leadership.
The Law & Leadership Institute is an exciting week-long residential program designed to introduce high school students of diverse backgrounds to the legal system, expose them to careers in the law, and provide them with practical tools for achieving their educational goals. During this program, which is FREE to all participants, students will work with judges, lawyers and law students on legal reasoning, case analysis, writing, negotiation and oral argument exercises. In addition, students and their parents/guardians/mentors receive college preparatory advice on topics such as preparing for standardized tests, completing applications and securing financial aid. This program is presented as a collaborative public service by the Illinois State Bar Association and Just the Beginning Foundation. JTBF has more than 20 years of experience in developing and nurturing interest in the law among young persons of various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. Through existing programs in a growing number of states, JTBF provides outreach and education to students from middle school through law school and into professional life. The ISBA is lending its financial and volunteer support to not only sponsor students in JTBF’s Chicago program in 2012 but to create this new downstate, residential program at the SIU School of Law.
The program will run from
Sunday, June 24, 2012 -
Saturday, June 30, 2012
and is hosted by
Southern Illinois University School of Law
Who is invited to apply?
Rising 9th, 10th and 11th grade students
What are the program goals?
Expose students to interesting aspects of the law and a variety of legal careers
To increase academic achievements in:
• Critical thinking skills
• Oral advocacy
To increase personal achievements by:
• Encouraging the development of effective study habits to be carried on and expanded throughout their academic careers (and beyond)
• Helping students to build social skills: amongst peers and adults
• Gain, grow and nurture their leadership skills
• Promoting a strong sense of confidence in the students’ own ability to thrive in any setting
• Promoting a sense of belonging for the student, in the legal profession and the community in general
How are the program goals to be met?
Through interactive lessons and sessions, assigned homework as well as guided experiences including filed trips and visits from various legal professionals
What types of specific things will the students do during the
• Students assigned to teams (no more than 12 students) with an assigned law student team leader
• Visit Host Law Firms and Corporations
• Federal and State Court visits with corresponding Mock Trial
• Visit Higher Education Institution
• Participate in various Team Building Exercises
• Daily skill building sessions centered around a legal theme
• Daily discussions of assigned novel to continue skill building; higher order thinking skills,
• Reading comprehension writing and oral skill building (through guided discussions and
• Presentation assignments.
• Students will be introduced to advocacy skills through closed research and writing and presentation of assigned oral argument problem.
• Intensive Oral Argument Competition
• Developing Professional Skills and corresponding Networking Activities
• ISBA Sections and Committees groups to sign up to assist in the planning and execution of various activities related to their practice areas
Specifically About the Law &
Leadership Institute (“the LLI”)
• It is a residential program
• It will take place on the campus of Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale, Illinois.
• It will be both fun and educational.
• It is FREE to all students.
• All housing and food will be provided as a part of the LLI.
• It will run from Sunday, June 24, 2012 to Saturday, June 30, 2012. Parents and guardians are invited and strongly encouraged to attend the final program day’s closing ceremony which will include activities for parents and guardians.
How you can provide support
• Donation of time - volunteer
• Donation of in kind support – lunches, gift cars, prizes
• Donation of money
Donations are tax deductible.
Payment arrangements can be made and there’s a guarantee that you will be personally enriched. This is an invaluable opportunity to directly and effectively impact the lives of young people in your own community. ■