We live in a society enriched by a citizenry with a wide variety of values, life experiences, goals, judgments, virtues, and deficits. For our society to be just, our legal system must understand and reflect that rich variety, mirroring the reality of our culture itself.
To have a legal system that mirrors the diversity of our country, we must have law schools that are equally diverse where individuals of many backgrounds can gain admittance and excel.
Law schools are highly competitive. To prepare to compete, students from diverse backgrounds must gain strong academic skills, particularly in critical reading, critical thinking, and clear writing. In addition to these academic skills, students need to enjoy a healthy, positive outlook on life and develop leadership skills, time-management skills, and good judgment.
Happily, if you are a student from a diverse background, including students from under-represented racial and ethnic backgrounds, students who are first-generation college graduates, students for whom English is a second language, students with learning disabilities and physical challenges, and students with countless other non-traditional characteristics, law schools are more ready for you than at any other time in history. The American Bar Association itself recognizes the critical importance of encouraging diversity in legal education - your time is now.
If you care deeply about justice, have a strong work ethic and enjoy intellectual activity, have looked into your educational and career options carefully and believe law school and a legal career are right for you, the following resources may prove useful as you continue to pursue your dream.
Readings of interest concerning diversity in law school and the legal profession
Cathaleen A. Roach, A River Runs Through It: Tapping Into the Informational Stream to Move Students from Isolation to Autonomy," 36 ARIZ. L. REV. 667 (1994).
Charles R. Calleros, Training a Diverse Student Body for a Multicultural Society, 8 La Raza L. J. 140 (1995)
Natsu Saito Jenga, Finding Our Voices, Teaching Our Truth: Reflections on Legal Pedagogy and Asian American Identity, 3 Asian Pac. Am. L. J. 80 (1995)
Paula Lustbader, Principle 7: Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning, and Conclusion: Adapting the Seven Principles to Legal Education, 49 J. LEGAL EDUC. 448 (1999)
Commission on Women in the Legal Profession, VISIBLE INVISIBILITY: WOMEN OF COLOR IN LAW FIRMS (2006) (available on the ABA website)
Websites of interest concerning diversity in law school and the legal profession
DiscoverLaw.org, developed by the Law School Admission Council that writes and administers the LSAT, encourages racially and ethnically diverse students to consider law as a viable career option early in their educational development. The earlier a student discovers law as a potential career, the sooner he or she can identify and acquire the skills necessary to excel.
CLEO (Council on Legal Education Opportunity) is a rich resource for information about law school and how to excel, focusing specifically on issues faced by students from minority, low income, and economically disadvantaged groups. This site includes educational opportunities for high school students, college students, and law students.
NALP (National Association for Law Placement) site for diversity initiatives includes information about the many career services opportunities designed to assist students from diverse backgrounds with job placement.ABA Office of Diversity Initiatives contains information about efforts of the ABA to increase diversity representation in legal education and the practice of law, including links to its student scholarship fund and to a resource guide on diversity.