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The Real Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: An Empirical Critique of Richard Sander's Study


David L. Chambers


University of Michigan Law School

Timothy T. Clydesdale


College of New Jersey

William C. Kidder


University of California, Riverside

Richard Lempert


University of Michigan Law School

May 2005

Michigan Law and Economics Working Paper No. 05-007

Abstract:     
In an article in Stanford Law Review, Richard Sander argues that the practice of American law schools of taking race into account in admissions to law school perversely leads to fewer black lawyers entering the bar each year than would be the case without affirmative action. Sander's claim is that, while ending affirmative action would reduce somewhat the number of black students admitted to any law school, there would in the end be more black lawyers because those black students who do attend law school would no longer attend schools where they are over their heads academically and would graduate and pass the bar at much higher rates than they do today. To reach his conclusions he relies on projections based on an analysis of several datasets including the Bar Passage Study of the Law School Admissions Council. The article that follows is a response to Sander, also to be published in the Stanford Law. Resting on a reanalysis of the same datasets on which Sander relies, it concludes that ending affirmative action for black applicants to law school, far from leading to a net increase in the numbers of black attorneys, would probably lead to a decline of new lawyers in the range of 30 to 40 percent each year.

A companion paper can be found at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=886382 (Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: A Critical Response to Richard Sander's "A Reply to Critics").

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

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Date posted: May 27, 2005 ; Last revised: December 8, 2012

Suggested Citation

Chambers , David L. and Clydesdale, Timothy T. and Kidder, William C. and Lempert, Richard, The Real Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: An Empirical Critique of Richard Sander's Study (May 2005). Michigan Law and Economics Working Paper No. 05-007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=730506

Contact Information

David L. Chambers (Contact Author)
University of Michigan Law School ( email )
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
802-295-5824 (Phone)
Timothy T. Clydesdale
College of New Jersey ( email )
P.O. Box 7718
Ewing, NJ 08628-0718
United States
William C. Kidder
University of California, Riverside ( email )
900 a University Avenue
Riverside, CA 92521
United States
951 827-1128 (Phone)
Richard Lempert
University of Michigan Law School ( email )
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
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