Law School Applicant Pool More Diverse Than Ever
The law school applicant pool is more diverse than ever following the Supreme Court’s ban on affirmative action.
Reuters reports that the current national law school applicant pool includes more than 43% people of color—the highest percentage on record, according to the latest data from the Law School Admission Council. The number of minority applicants has increased nearly 7% compared to last year. The total number of applicants nationwide is up 4% from last year as well.
SUPREME COURT’S BAN ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
In June of 2023, the Supreme Court effectively ended the use of affirmative action in admissions, barring colleges and universities from using race as a factor. Many experts voiced concerns that the affirmative action ban would consequently hurt diversity in the legal profession, but the recent applicant numbers tell a different story.
“Law schools and [the Law School Admission Council] have done a really good job of saying, ‘Schools still want you,’” Susan Krinsky, the council’s executive vice president of operations, tells Reuters.
In response to the affirmative action ban, many law schools expanded or revamped their admission essay prompts to gain a deeper understanding of candidates’ backgrounds—without violating the court’s decision.
At the University of Michigan Law School, a new supplemental essay prompt asks applicants to explain how their experiences or perspectives might enrich the school’s intellectual environment and contribute to the broader objective of diversifying the legal industry.
“I do think we will see a broadening of interest in contextual information, and I think that’s good for making decisions,” Michigan Law senior assistant dean Sarah Zearfoss tells Reuters.
While applicant numbers are showing diversity in candidates, it’s still too early to say whether they historically diverse applicant pool will result in a more racially diverse class this fall.
“If we see higher denial rates among applicants of color after the current admission cycle, we may then see future declines in applications from members of those groups,” Aaron Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, says.
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