(2) News Articles Nov. 12 - 15, 2004:
"A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools"

Web Posted Dec. 10, 2004

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          "Racial preferences not only harm whites and Asians passed over for admissions to colleges and professional schools in favor of less qualified blacks and Latinos, they do real harm to the very students they were intended to help." -- Linda Chavez, Center for Equal Opportunity, writing in the Washington Times on Nov. 13, 2004.
Professor Assails Anti-Bias Program -- Los Angeles Times Nov. 15, 2004:

          In this news article, L.A. Times staff writer Stuart Silverman wrote:  "[Sander's] study asserts that law school affirmative action programs often draw African Americans to tougher schools where they struggle to keep up, leading many to earn poor grades, drop out and fail their state bar exams.

          In his interview with the Times, the study's author, Professor Richard H. Sander, said 'The big picture is that this system of racial preferences is no longer clearly achieving the goal of expanding the number of black lawyers.  There's a very good chance that we're creating such high attrition rates that we're actually lowering production of black lawyers, and certainly we are weakening the preparation of the black lawyers we are producing.'

NEWS May 9, 2006
Also be sure to see Sander's latest research:

The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm

          The Times report continues:  "[Opponents of racial preferences] have made similar arguments about racial preferences in the past, but Sander's research provides new statistics on academic performance.  He reports that, in his national sampling, nearly half of first-year black students received grades placing them in the bottom tenth of their classes.  In addition, he found that among all students who entered law school in 1991, 45% of black students graduated and passed the bar exam on their first try, while 78% of whites did so.

          "Sander, who now favors scaling back affirmative action, argues that racial preferences often create an "academic mismatch" that puts black students into competition with white students with stronger credentials. He contends that if the same black students went to less selective law schools, they would earn higher grades, raising their chances of graduating and passing the bar exam.

          "UCLA law professor Richard H. Sander ... generally seems an unlikely candidate to challenge a leading liberal cause.  Sander, 48, is a soft-spoken former VISTA volunteer who for years has studied housing discrimination and championed efforts to fight segregation in Los Angeles. A self-described "pragmatic progressive" who supported John Kerry for president, Sander also promoted a local program in the 1990s to help the working poor win more federal aid.

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Does Affirmative Action Hurt Black Law Students? -- Chronicle of Higher Education Nov. 12, 2004 by Katherine S. Mangan

          "Affirmative action hurts black law students more than it helps them by bumping applicants up into law schools where they are more likely to earn poor grades, drop out, and fail their states' bar exams, according to a forthcoming study by a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

          "The author, Richard H. Sander, argues that ending racial preferences in law-school admissions would increase the number of black lawyers because it would help ensure that students attend law schools where they are more likely to succeed.

          "A report of the study, scheduled to appear in the November issue of the Stanford Law Review, has sparked a contentious debate among supporters and critics of affirmative action.

          "Sander said: 'The study is implicitly pretty critical of what law schools are doing. For any defender of affirmative action, which is a core article of faith in higher education, and especially in law schools, this seems like a fundamental assault on cherished ideas and values.'

          "Mr. Sander's main source of data is the last comprehensive study of bar-passage rates, which was conducted between 1991 and 1997 by the Law School Admission Council. That study of 27,000 students who entered law school in 1991 found a wide gap between the grades and test scores of minority students and those of white counterparts.

          "Mr. Sander also drew data from his own study of students who entered 20 law schools in 1995. His analysis focuses on black students alone. (He is working on another study that includes other underrepresented minority groups).

          "His study, 'A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools,' found that:

* After the first year of law school, 51 percent of black students have grade-point averages that place them in the bottom tenth of their classes, compared with 5 percent of white students. 'Evidence suggests that when you're doing that badly, you're learning less than if you were in the middle of a class' at a less-prestigious law school, Mr. Sander says.
* Among students who entered law school in 1991, about 80 percent of white students graduated and passed the bar on their first attempt, compared with just 45 percent of black students. In a race-blind admissions system, the number of black graduates passing the bar the first time would jump to 74 percent, [Sander] says, based on his statistical analysis of how higher grades in less competitive schools would result in higher bar scores. Black students are nearly six times as likely as whites not to pass state bar exams after multiple attempts.

          ... "Mr. Sander stops short of calling for an end to all racial preferences, but argues that they should at least be scaled back if, as he contends, they are hurting the intended beneficiaries more than they are helping them."

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Law-school racial disparities -- Modesto Bee via Scripps Howard News Service Nov. 12, 2004 by Linda Seebach

          "Law schools are among the most assiduous users and defenders of racial preferences in admissions. The people who run them evidently believe both that it is a desirable goal to increase the number of African-Americans and other minorities who become lawyers and that the goal cannot be reached in any other way.

          "So you can imagine the dismay caused by a study arguing that the net effect of preferences is to reduce the number of African-Americans who successfully pass the bar and lowers their income as well. The author is UCLA law professor Richard Sander, and a draft of his article is available at www1.law.ucla.edu/~sander/. The article is to be published in the Stanford Law Review.

          "... I'll outline Sander's argument for you, but [the arguments of his critics are] particularly interesting, because [Sander's] arguments could be taken wholesale from the anti-preference side. It's almost as if [his critics] were so desperate to discredit Sander's results that they forgot these are exactly the arguments they've been trying so long and so hard to deny.

          "The performance of African-American students on the Law School Admission Test is very much weaker than that of white students. The reason is in dispute, but the regrettable fact is not. So in order to have as many black students as they think suitable, law schools admit black students with substantially lower undergraduate grades and LSAT scores than whites. The most elite schools admit students who would be competitive at a second-tier school, which then has to admit students who aren't competitive with its white applicants, and so forth.

          "The result of this mismatch is that black law students get very low grades - the median black student gets first-year grades at about the 7th or 8th percentile. Students who get low grades, whatever their race, are more likely to drop out, and if they do graduate, are less likely to pass the bar exam.

          "... Sander's conclusion is that, in the absence of preferences, the number of African-Americans passing the bar would rise by almost 9 percent.

          "That sounds entirely too sunny to me, but I think he's made a reasonable case that the effects of a truly race-neutral admissions policy would not be catastrophic.

          "... The Bar Passage Study conducted by the Law School Admission Council for students starting law school in 1991 found that 19.2 percent of black students failed to complete their studies within six years, compared with 8.2 percent of white students. Among students who took the bar exam up to five times, all but 3.3 percent of white students eventually passed it, but 22.4 percent of black students never did.

          "Sander believes that those disparities would shrink substantially if students were better matched to their schools, and the critique authors think the effect, if any, would be small and possibly negative. But couldn't everyone agree that the current situation is calamitous, and start to look seriously about what could be done to ameliorate it?

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Affirmative action reaction -- Washington Times editorial page, Saturday Nov. 13, 2004 by Linda Chavez, Center for Equal Opportunity

          "For more than three decades, supporters of affirmative action have argued racial preferences in higher education were absolutely vital if blacks and other minorities were to obtain college and professional degrees.

          "In July 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to agree, at least with respect to University of Michigan law school admissions.  Writing for the majority in Grutter vs. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, 'In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified members of every race and ethnicity,' approving the use of explicit racial preferences to do so.  'We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,' she wrote in the 5-to-4 decision.
NEWS May 9, 2006
Also be sure to see Sander's latest research:

The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm

          "A new study, however, debunks the myth that those preferences are necessary even now, providing stunning evidence affirmative action may actually hurt the chances of blacks to obtain law degrees.

          "Richard H. Sander, a law professor at University of California-Los Angeles, a self-described Democrat and a lifelong affirmative-action supporter, has recently completed the most comprehensive look ever at affirmative action's effect on academic achievement of black law students. The study appears in the November issue of Stanford Law Review.

          "Looking at the performance of black and other students at 21 law schools in the mid-1990s, Mr. Sander notes in the introduction to his study, "There has never been a comprehensive attempt to assess the relative costs and benefits of racial preferences in any field of higher education."

          "Mr. Sander focuses on what he describes as the "costs" and "benefits" of affirmative action to blacks. He is less concerned about the harm such programs may do to better-qualified white and Asian students passed over in the admissions process than about what happens to the less-qualified black students admitted in their place. He argues his data demonstrate blacks are harmed by the very programs aimed at helping them.

          "Most black applicants, he writes, 'end up at schools where they will struggle academically and fail at higher rates than they would in the absence of preferences.... Perhaps, most remarkably, a strong case can be made that in the legal education system as a whole, racial preferences end up producing fewer black lawyers each year than would be produced by a race-blind system.'

          "Among first-year law students, Mr. Sander reports, 52 percent of blacks' grades put them in the lowest 10 percent of their class. Only 8 percent of blacks earn grades in the top half of their class. And their performance does not improve with time.

          "About 19 percent of black students in this study dropped out without completing law school, compared with 8 percent of white students. Of those who completed law school, however, about half continued at the bottom 10 percent of their class. Consequently, only about 45 percent of black law school graduates pass their bar exams on their first attempt, compared with about 80 percent of white graduates.

          "Mr. Sander estimates that if black students were admitted through a race-blind process, so their skills were properly matched to the schools' own admissions criteria, far more black students would do well, graduate and pass the bar. He estimates ending racial preferences could produce nearly 10 percent more black lawyers.

          "My Center for Equal Opportunity has published studies of 57 public colleges and universities and nine professional schools revealing the extent of racial preferences, which are both wide and deep. These affect not only the most elite schools but even less competitive colleges and provide a very substantial admissions advantage to blacks and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Latinos.

          "We have shown that, judging from their tests scores and grade-point averages, black students in particular are often admitted to schools for which they are poorly prepared, and from which we've reported they are less likely to graduate. But we've seldom had access to data to show how they performed in school. Mr. Sander has now provided that data -- and the picture it paints is gloomy indeed.

          "Racial preferences not only harm whites and Asians passed over for admissions to colleges and professional schools in favor of less qualified blacks and Latinos, they do real harm to the very students they were intended to help."

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END (2)  NEWS COVERAGE -- Affirmative Action in Law Schools
Nov. 2004


Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools

Nov. 2004

NEWS July 2006
N.A.S. Research:
Forced Diversity Has No Educational Benefit
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