A New Minority? International JD Students in US Law Schools

79 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2019 Last revised: 24 Mar 2019

See all articles by Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Swethaa Ballakrishnen

University of California, Irvine School of Law; Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession

Carole Silver

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: March 15, 2019

Abstract

This Article reveals the significance of a new and growing minority group within US law schools - international students in the Juris Doctor (JD) program. While international students have received some attention in legal education scholarship, it mostly has been focused on their participation in the context of programs specially designed for this demographic (e.g. post-graduate programs like the LLM and SJD). Drawing from interview data with fifty-eight international JD students across seventeen graduating US law schools, our research reveals the rising importance of international students as actors within a more mainstream institutional context. Particularly, in examining the ways these students navigate their law school environments, we find that although international status often impacts identity and participation, not all students encounter its impact similarly. While some students use the identity to their advantage, others cannot escape negative implications, even with effort. This is consistent with other scholarship on minority students, and adds to a growing literature that uses their socialization experiences to better understand professional stratification. To unpack these different ways of “being international,” we borrow from Goffman’s theorization of stigma to suggest illustrative variations in the ways international students experience their environments. In doing so, we offer an introductory landscape to better understand this growing population and hope this enables new insights to theorize about other kinds of minority experience.

Suggested Citation

Ballakrishnen, Swethaa and Silver, Carole, A New Minority? International JD Students in US Law Schools (March 15, 2019). Law and Social Inquiry, 2019, Forthcoming; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2019-12; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 19-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3353506

Swethaa Ballakrishnen (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Carole Silver

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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