Affirmative Action and Racial Diversity in U.S. Law Schools, 1980-2021
43 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2023
Date Written: June 28, 2023
We study racial diversity in American law schools and the impact of state-level bans on affirmative action. To do this, we assembled data on the number of students by minority status at every ABA-approved law school from 1980 to 2021. During this time, the share of minority law students tripled from 11 to 33 percent. This growth closely tracked demographic trends, but it was not fast enough to catch up to minority shares of the population or potential law school candidates. State-level affirmative action bans decreased racial diversity by between 17 and 25 percent. Nearly all of this decrease came from fewer black and Hispanic students.
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