UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON LAW PROFESSOR COMPILES FIRST RANKING OF NATION’S "WHITEST" LAW SCHOOLS
DAYTON, Ohio – People looking for minority legal representation will face challenges doing so according to a report revealing a trend that future lawyers will continue to be demographically much different than American society.
University of Dayton law professor Vernellia Randall’s first "Whitest Law Schools" list shows 156 law schools admit a percentage of white students higher than the percentage of whites of "law school age" (21-39 years old) in the United States (69 percent) and the number of whites in the national law school applicant pool (68.1).
The independent report, which was cited by the American Bar Association Journal’s eReport this month, ranked the percentage of white students at 186 law schools in the United States and Puerto Rico. However, only historically white law schools (179) were included in the descriptive statistics. Historically black colleges and universities and schools in Puerto Rico were specifically excluded from the report.
"The purpose of this report is to measure the extent whites are over-represented in law schools," Randall said.
"It will provide a way of measuring changes and progress in equitable representation of minorities and provide a mechanism for comparing how law schools are training a racially representative group of lawyers as we move toward becoming a ‘nation of minorities,’" said Randall, referring the to latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates that show there will be equal numbers of white non-Hispanics and minorities in the U.S. by 2050.
The University of Montana law school has the highest percentage of white students at 95.6 percent. The University of Maine (95.3), Samford University (94.7), the University of Idaho (93.7), Duquesne University (93.4), the University of South Carolina (93), Northern Kentucky University (92.9), the University of Kentucky (92.7), Marquette University (92.6) and the University of Richmond (92.4) round out the top 10.
The most diverse are the University of Hawaii (29.2 percent), the University of the District of Columbia (38.5), St. Thomas University (52.2), Western State University (56.7), the University of Southern California (57.3), Whittier Law School (57.9), Queens College (59.5), Columbia University (60.0), Loyola (Calif.) Law School (60.8) and Santa Clara University (60.9).
The report states, "While it might be expected that many of the top 10 whitest law schools are from states or regions that have very few minorities, such as the University of Maine, in fact, half the top 10 are in the south, which has a significant minority population."
The University of Maine has fewer whites in the law school (-0.59 percent) than its state has whites of "law school age," but still remained on the list.
"All schools assert that they are national or regional schools and the New England region has 83.9 percent whites who are law school age," Randall explained. "Thus, Maine has 10 percent more white students than the white law school age population in the New England region."
Law school admissions relative to state or regional demographics are examined as well to determine the "excess whiteness" of a school. Randall found that Texas Tech University leads with 38.3 percent more white students than the number of whites of law school age in the state of Texas. Two other Texas schools — University of Houston and University of Texas — follow with 33.5 and 31.7 percent excess whiteness, respectively.
Based on all public law schools in a state, South Carolina is determined by the study to be the whitest state with nearly 28.7 percent more whites attending law school in the state than the percentage of whites in the 21-39 age range.
"Significant excess whiteness in public law schools raises questions about how well these tax-supported schools are meeting their obligations to all the citizens of their respective states," Randall said.
The information sources for the report are the 2004 American Bar Association’s Law School Admission Council (LSAC) guide, the LSAC National Statistical Report 1998-99 through 2003-03 and the 2000 U.S. Census.
For the report, anyone listed as "unknown" is counted as white.
"Questions have been raised about the methodology of counting ‘unknowns’ as whites," explained Randall, who specializes in the area of race and racism in American law. "’Unknown’ presented a problem because including them as white allowed schools with large number of whites who failed to report their race to look less ‘white.’ I decided to count ‘unknown’ as ‘white’ as not to penalize schools who have most of their applicants reporting race or provide incentives for schools to move the reporting of students into ‘unknown.’" Plus, I wanted to have a consistent methodology, and this approach has been used by other diversity ranking systems."
Elite law schools fared better with the U.S. News and World Report’s top 10 law schools, averaging a ranking of 138. The top-ranked U.S. News school, Yale, ranked No. 160 on the whitest law schools list at 66.9 percent.