Affirmative Action in Law Schools - Are the Curtains Being Pulled Back?
Thu, Oct 24, 2013 - 12:49am
In today's society here in the USA, all practicing attorneys had to first get into a law school, then complete the course of study, typically three years, to obtain a Juris Doctor degree. Upon graduating from law school, a prospective attorney had to then apply to take a written bar examination, passing a stringent "moral character" background check. If all went well, then the prospective attorney got to sit for a three day written bar exam. The test results are released several months later. If a test taker passes the exam, then the prospective applicant is sworn into the practice of law, pays a yearly fee, and voila, an attorney is born. There is no requirement for residency, or apprenticeship, or anything similar. Passing the bar exam = licensed attorney, simple as that.
But, like everything, not all attorneys are the same, duh. Like anything else, there is a pecking order amongst the practicing attorneys. Like college football, the better prospects are coveted by the better teams, and there is a ranking order among them all.
Same for law school graduates. The biggest and best law firms out there, seek out the graduates from the top law schools, which costs upwards of a hundred thousand dollars to attend, if not substantially more. They do so because the big firms can charge their big clients big hourly rates based on the near slave-like work conditions expected out of those worker-bee big firm lawyers. Think of the lawyers defending JPM. Those lawyers are from the elite schools, the Ivy League, Harvard, Yale, etc. No big firm hiring partner is looking for an attorney from a tiny, regional state run law school. No way. And so it goes.
While anyone who passes the bar exam can become an attorney, not every law school is geared to producing journeyman level, worker bee, yeoman-like attorneys to do the basics, like family law, custody, divorces, basic criminal cases, personal injury, wills, contracts, etc.
Breaking Bad's "Better Call Saul" was no Harvard Graduate, see what I mean?
Some law schools only want the best of the best, for prestige reasons, and because those graduates from those big schools will get top jobs, and go on and perpetuate the cycle. There is immense pressure on law students at the big, elite law schools, to both perform in school, against the best of the best, and to then pass the bar to keep the schools' bar passage rate high in order to generate nationwide high rankings among the list of elite schools. The lower the bar passage rate, then the lower the ranking, generally.
The higher ranked the law school, the more likely the school is to attract a higher quality student, from an elite undergraduate school, having perfect grades or damn near perfect, with a very high law school admission test score, who rightfully believes that upon payment of a quarter million dollars and matriculation and bar passage, the higher likelihood exists for that graduate to go on to a lucrative position right out of law school. That is simply a fact.
And then there is the other, hidden agenda at the elite schools and law firms. There is the silent tyranny of soft expectations. Those elite schools also want to look good on the racial and demographic metrics, and as such, they actively recruit "disadvantaged" minority applicants for "diversity" purposes. There is no effort at all to recruit for diversity of viewpoint, and the basic premise of the progressives is that without affirmative action, then the elite schools would be out of reach for most minorities for many reasons. So, the big, elite schools recruit minorities, give them scholarships, and push them through the system.
But, is this approach even helping those minorities that the elite schools are trying to help? Is there an unintended consequence? Some scholars think so.
A fascinating story is underway in California. The article cite is here:
The premise is simple enough: a scholar wants demographic data from law schools to study whether affirmative action is harming minority students. According to the scholar, the research to date tends to suggest that admission of minorities to the big elite schools due to affirmative action is actually harming those kids because: “affirmative action hurts the very students it's supposed to help by placing them in elite schools where they struggle to succeed.”
Wow, would you look at that? Unheard of. Simply astounding. The emperor is naked, look there! some would say. I say ask more questions.
I say it is time to ask hard questions and press for answers, as the fiat scheme is literally careening out of control like the guests at a Kennedy-compound party at 1:00 a.m.
Are these the unintended consequences of the progressive policy of affirmative action, or are they instead the intended consequences? Think about it?
Many commentators argue that without affirmative action, traditionally economically repressed minorities could never attain admission to law schools at the upper tier, thereby harming them as a group and perpetuating the dynasty of the old, white elitists. They say that affirmative action gives minorities entrance into this elite society, breaking down barriers, and creating equality despite racial differences. It is a laudable goal to be sure, some say. Others have suggested that affirmative action actually harms minorities, as the article notes, and that treating folks differently because of race ultimately creates resentments and further deepens the cultural divide and race animosity. Who is right? Who knows? I am not a minority. Nor did I go to an elite law school. How can I possibly relate to the question posed? I am a journeyman lawyer, have been so for two decades, and hope to do so for the next two or three decades. I know plenty of skilled attorneys from all walks of life, different races and ethnicities, and I find that it is not the school one attended that matters, it is one's innate value system and effort and experience that matter the most. A skilled lawyer is a skilled lawyer. That only comes from years and years of practice and experience, not from a sheepskin from an elite school. But enough of that.
What I find more compelling is not that there is an argument to be made for either position. Instead, it is fascinating to see that the curtain is being pulled back, by an insider elitist, to examine the very premise upon which one of the pillars of the progressive movement rests: affirmative action to redress past wrongs. Who here thinks it is okay to condition rewards or benefits simply because of one's skin color or heritage? Are we still in the era of redress of past wrongs, or have we gotten to the point of a color blind society? Arguments can be made eloquently, and persuasively on both sides.
But the elites fighting the elites is a whole new form of warfare and I am keenly watching the battles play out.
Is this the beginning of the eventual cannibalism amongst the progressive elites who finally begin to question their very core beliefs and then tell the truth about their progressive policies that actually harm people from the condescending, central control mindset? Has the fiasco of Obombya care finally exposed the fallacy of infinite redistribution of wealth with no societal cost? Are the elites beginning to have any introspection at the havoc they have wrought? When is Krugman going to admit he is and was wrong? Is the great curtain finally being pulled back for the masses to see what is truly occurring?
One can only hope.