Upcoming Symposia

Opening Doors: Making Diversity Matter in Law School Admissions

There is a consensus among law school deans and professors that diversity enhances the educational experiences of law students. The U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger recognized that diversity is critical in developing the future leadership of the United States. However, two factors often adversely affect the success of law school diversity initiatives: (1) the U.S. News and World Report rankings methodology often cause law schools to overemphasize LSAT and GPA credentials of the admitted students, which adversely affects students of color; and (2) the absence or ineffectiveness of pre-law advisement for college students of color.

Currently U.S. News and World Report’s rankings methodology for law schools does not include diversity, although the magazine has a separate ranking for the most diverse law schools. In response to the suggestion that adding various diversity-related measures would improve the ranking methodology and related results, U.S. News and World Report rankings expert Robert Morse has expressed concerns about the feasibility of including a diversity measure in the U.S. News and World Report ranking formula in a fair and meaningful way. According to Morse, there are several key questions to address:

  • Does diversity include both economic and ethnic diversity?
  • Should diversity be linked to an academic quality as opposed to a social goal?
  • Can schools in ethnically diverse states be compared to those in less diverse states?
  • How would a diversity measure rank historically black law schools?
  • Should private schools be measured against the same yardstick as public law schools

Students of color, especially those who are first-generation college students, often lack access to the personal and professional networks they need to guide them to and through the law school admissions process. As a result, it is crucial that this population receives quality pre-law advisement. There are few empirical studies on the effectiveness of this kind of counseling. But existing studies show that students of color come late to the law school application process. This delay undermines acceptances and the availability of scholarship dollars. Studies also show that pre-law students, irrespective of race, tend to distrust their pre-law advisors and find their advice less trustworthy than advice offered by peers. This lack of trust is likely compounded by the complexity of trans-racial conversations between pre-law students of color and white pre-law advisors. There is also anecdotal information suggesting that some students of color are ill advised about the admissions process.

This symposium aims to:

  • Think through possible reforms of the U.S. News & World Report rankings methodology to make it more inclusive of diversity
  • Identify or develop studies highlighting special issues in advising students of color
  • Develop and promote adoption of model pre-law counseling techniques for students of color

Call for papers

Border Patrols: The Legal, Racial, Social, and Economic Implications of United States Immigration Policy

On March 16, 2012, the Journal will hold a symposium on immigration. Given its focus on legal issues of racial, social and economic justice and its location in one of the most diverse counties in the United States, the Journal is well positioned to present both sides of the immigration discussion and to have a full academic inquiry into the subject’s legal, social, political and economic dimensions.

While there has been no significant movement toward federal immigration reform since a bipartisan effort died in 2007, immigration has been the subject of a wave of legislation at the state level, most notably with the passage of an Arizona statute that is among the nation’s strictest immigration laws. Opponents of immigration reform are concerned about job competition, wage pressures, and the perceived social costs of unauthorized immigrants, and there is also disagreement as to how to resolve the controversial issues of border security and the path to legalization. Proponents of immigration reform argue that the growth and prosperity of the United States is dependent on immigrants replenishing our workforce, creating new job opportunities, and contributing income, Social Security, Medicare, and sales taxes.

Call for Papers (link pending)