A few days back, while I was away at the Federalist Society Faculty Division conference in New Orleans, Orin linked to a study out of Columbia’s “SALT” that reported declines in the percentage of African Americans and Mexican Americans matriculating in American law schools since 1993.
Orin tentatively attributed this decline to law schools becoming increasingly concerned about LSAT and GPA scores because these scores are so important to schools’ U.S. News rankings.
I have two related comments. First, even if we assume that 1993 is the appropriate baseline year (and the study never explains why it is), we see that 9,577 African Americans and 1,434 Mexican Americans applied to law schools in 1992-93, compared to 9,030 and 1,130, respectively, in 2007-08. In other words, there was a total of just over 11,000 African American and Mexican American applicants at the beginning of the study period, compared to just 10,160 fifteen years later. Nevertheless, almost exactly the same number of law students from these two groups matriculated in 2008 as in 1993: 4,060 in 2008, compared to 4,142 in 1993.
So, even though in 2008 there were almost one thousand fewer applicants, only eighty-two fewer individuals matriculated, meaning that a higher percentage of applicants ultimately matriculated. And this despite the fact that in the interim, public law schools in several states, including, notably, California, Florida, and Michigan, have been legally barred from considering race in admissions.
So, in fact, there is no reason to think based on the statistics provided that law schools have become any less vigorous in their admission of African Americans and Mexican Americans. ([Corrected:] The study claims that members of the two groups who apply to law school are increasingly well-qualified, but oddly enough, while the study notes an increase in GPAs and LSAT scores, it [...]