Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Affirmative Action and African-American Law Students

Richard Sander, a Democratic law professor at UCLA with liberal credentials, has an article forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review about the effect of race-based affirmative action on African-American law students. He is guest-blogging over at the Volokh Conspiracy this week.

Among the findings in his article, which can be found here(pdf):

- After the first year of law school, 51 percent of black students have grade-point averages that place them in the bottom tenth of their classes, compared with 5 percent of white students. "Evidence suggests that when you're doing that badly, you're learning less than if you were in the middle of a class" at a less-prestigious law school, Mr. Sander says.
- Among students who entered law school in 1991, about 80 percent of white students graduated and passed the bar on their first attempt, compared with just 45 percent of black students. In a race-blind admissions system, the number of black graduates passing the bar the first time would jump to 74 percent, he says, based on his statistical analysis of how higher grades in less competitive schools would result in higher bar scores. Black students are nearly six times as likely as whites not to pass state bar exams after multiple attempts.
- Ending affirmative action would increase the number of new black lawyers by 8.8 percent because students would attend law schools where they would struggle less and learn more, and earn higher grades.
- With the exception of the most-elite law schools, good grades matter more to employers than the law school's prestige.
The article is a definite must-read.