September 28, 2006

Sacrificing smart black kids on the altar of "diversity:"

A friend of mine graduated from Pepperdine Law School after the usual three years of classes, then, while working as a hospital orderly, spent a nightmarish seven years or so trying and repeatedly failing to pass the California bar exam before finally giving up. In other words, he devoted about a decade of the prime of his life (age 22-32) to a fruitless quest to become a lawyer.

He just wasn't smart enough and diligent enough at the kind of hard, boring mental labor that the law demands. He had more smarts than the average person, but not enough to be a California lawyer. A charming fellow, if he'd become a salesman out of college instead of going to law school, he might have been making six figures within that decade. His total costs, out-of-pocket and opportunity, for this decade-long misadventure must have been in the half million dollar range (in current dollars).

He is a white guy, so nobody was pushing him to go to law school to bring the benefits of diversity, such as they are, to their institutions. But getting lured into going to law school by white liberals happens all the time to young black people who are smarter than the black average. And a lot of them end up like my friend: with huge student debts yet with no license to practice law.

UCLA law school professor Richard Sanders has been quantifying the racial gaps in law school graduation and bar exam passage rates.

Here are his estimates from the Empirical Legal Studies blog:

2004 Era
(my estimates)



% of entering law students who graduate



% of graduates who take the bar



% of bar takers who pass on first attempt



% of bar takers who ultimately pass



% of entering law students who graduate and pass bar on first attempt



% of entering law students who ultimately become lawyers



In other words, 53% of the black students who enter law school fail to qualify to become lawyers, versus 24% of white students.

I'm particularly concerned about a number that he doesn't specify but is calculable from his data: the percent of students who graduate from law school but never pass the bar exam. These are the young people who had enough brains and work ethic to graduate from law school but not enough to pass the bar exam. They wasted at least three years of their lives at law school, and usually several more while studying for and failing the bar exam over and over again.

That percentage of law school graduates who never pass the bar exam appears to be about 40% for blacks versus about 15% for whites.

So, the legal establishment is luring a sizable number of the black race's more promising young people (not the very best and brightest blacks, but the one or even two standard deviations above the African-American median blacks) into a career cul-de-sac.

According to the Supreme Court Grutter decision okaying the U. of Michigan to discriminate against whites and Asians in law school admissions, the purpose of affirmative action isn't to help the black and Hispanic students admitted preferentially, but to spread the blessings of "diversity" on everybody else at the school. But that warm fuzzy feeling that liberals get from "diversity" comes with very real human costs.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do happen to be a black person and I suppose a smarter than average one compared to blacks and whites and I did in fact go to law school as well (and pass the bar).

There's one (among other things) you fail into account. This one jumped at me so here goes. The stats you mention need not bear on affirmative action; in fact, they likely don't.

When you factor in statewide numbers into an equation, this includes very bummy law schools, which tend to be more heavily minority compared to better schools which are heavily white notwithstanding Affirmative Action. So the issue is more that there are law schools that shouldn't exist and they are letting people in to make money. A black child from a low-income bracket/poor school district may take up these schools as a choice rather than forego law school.