NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 1, 2004

Affirmative Action hurts blacks who are entering law school; in fact, the number of black lawyers would increase without race-based preferences, according to a study in the forthcoming issue of Stanford Law Review.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) law professor Richard H. Sander examined the effects of affirmative action on the success of black students in law school, finding:

  • After one year, 51 percent of blacks in law school are in the bottom 10th of their class.
  • In 1991, only 45 percent of blacks entering law school pass the bar exam on their first try, compared to 80 percent of white students.
  • If affirmative action was not in place, 74 percent of black graduates would pass the bar exam the first time; furthermore, the number of new black lawyers would rise by 8.8 percent.

The problem with affirmative action, he says, is that it promotes students who are ill-prepared for the rigors of law school.

Lucas E. Morel of the Ashbrook Center notes that the achievement gap between blacks and whites begins in primary grades and continues up through college. Unless the nation's schools get serious about closing the gap early on, the band-aid solution of Affirmative Action will do little to benefit blacks.

Source: Lucas Morel, "The Disaffirmation of Black Law Students," Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, November 2004.


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