Measuring Merit: The Shultz-Zedeck Research on Law School Admissions

Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming

UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2221667

22 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2013

See all articles by Kristen Holmquist

Kristen Holmquist

UC Berkeley School of Law

Marjorie Maguire Shultz

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Sheldon Zedeck

University California, Berkeley

David B. Oppenheimer

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: February 20, 2013

Abstract

Law schools profess a commitment to racial diversity both for the educational benefits diversity confers and for its contribution to the profession. But they admit students based on standards that, while not discriminatory in a legal sense, undeniably favor white applicants. Today the question of who belongs in any given law school, or law school at all, turns almost exclusively on an applicant’s score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Law schools are not blind to the racial impact that accompanies this narrow measure of merit. But rather than taking a hard look at whether legal educators have adequately, or accurately, identified what qualities best qualify students for law school, the admissions process largely relies on affirmative action to ameliorate the current process's negative effects. That approach is imperfect for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is that affirmative action’s legal use in higher education may be about to end. Should race-conscious admissions practices be banned, every law school that truly values diversity will have to explore race-neutral means of achieving it. The good news is that research conducted by Marjorie Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck suggests that this is possible - that qualities relevant to effective lawyering can be defined and predicted without recreating the LSAT's disparate impact. This essay describes that research and the promise that it holds for improved, race-neutral, admissions processes.

Suggested Citation

Holmquist, Kristen and Maguire Shultz, Marjorie and Zedeck, Sheldon and Oppenheimer, David B., Measuring Merit: The Shultz-Zedeck Research on Law School Admissions (February 20, 2013). Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming , UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2221667, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2221667

Kristen Holmquist (Contact Author)

UC Berkeley School of Law ( email )

215 Law Building
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Marjorie Maguire Shultz

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Law Building
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-1921 (Phone)
510-642-3856 (Fax)

Sheldon Zedeck

University California, Berkeley ( email )

Berekeley, CA 94720
United States

David B. Oppenheimer

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Law Building
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
5106433225 (Phone)

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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