Affirmative Action Not Needed If ABA Gave
Minority Law School Applicants Fair Chance
January 13, 2009
Rather than change "elitist" law school admission policies to give
minorities a fair chance to enroll, the American Bar Assn.(ABA) instead
imposes affirmative action that allows in many fewer minority students, two
law school educational reformers say. They say if the ABA stopped insisting
that law schools give the culturally biased Law School Admission Test (LSAT),
affirmative action wouldn't be necessary.
The ABA accredits about 200, or nearly all, of the nation's law schools and
has propagandized most state Supreme courts into allowing only graduates of
ABA schools to take the bar exam (which even minorities justices seem to go
along with, for reasons unfathomable to persons who think they should be
trying to insure their people are treated fairly). It therefore has great
influence over law schools´ admission policies. Accordingly, it must be held
responsible as the architect for the low percentages of African-American
(6-7%) and Hispanic-American (3-4%) students now studying law, critics say.
"From at least 1960 onward, more and more law schools were becoming
elitist due to demands of the accreditors for high LSAT scores" on the
part of applicants, write Lawrence Velvel and Kurt Olson, dean and assistant
professor respectively, at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. The
effect of these demands "for ever higher LSAT scores had, and continues
to have, a prominent adverse effect on minority admissions."
"In consequence," the law school officials charge, "the
accreditors sought to overcome this by requiring all schools to engage in
affirmative action, starting with an ´interpretation´ of the ABA Standards
that became effective in 1981."
Velvel and Olson write in their new book, "The Gathering Peasants´
Revolt In American Legal Education"(Doukathsan), the use of affirmative
action did improve minority enrollment "somewhat" "but even 25
years after the ABA enacted its interpretation requiring affirmative action,
the situation was unsatisfactory, not to mention the exclusion of lower income
When President George W. Bush´s Department of Education(DOE) tried to end
affirmative action in law school admissions, it did so by putting off from
2005 to 2006 ABA´s petition that DOE renew its status as its sole law school
And when the ABA proposed a new affirmative action rule in an effort to
mollify DOE, it provoked "a firestorm of opposition because it was
obvious to many that the ill considered, transparently political response to
DOE would injure minorities and the relatively few schools that were seriously
attempting to serve them," Velvel and Olson write.
The complaints over the proposed affirmative action change spilled over into
many other aspects of ABA ´s controversial accreditation policies. Since the
ABA "is considered an ally of the Democratic Party," the co-authors
write, "the gathering peasants´ revolt (against the ABA ´s elitist
policies) could very well come to nought" when the Democrats return to
Velvel and Olson note the law today is still the least integrated of all the
professions, a fact that even the ABA ´s own Commission on Racial and Ethnic
Diversity in the Profession has recognized.
Founded in 1988, the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is purposefully
dedicated to providing a quality, affordable education for minorities,
immigrants, mid-career individuals, and students from low- and middle-income
backgrounds who would not otherwise be able to afford a legal education. The
school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges
and its tuition is about half that charged by most law schools.
Cofounder Velvel has been honored for his work in law school educational
reform by the National Law Journal and the National Jurist magazines. The
latter cited him as one of the leading reformers in legal education today. For
further information contact Sherwood Ross, media consultant to Massachusetts
School of Law at firstname.lastname@example.org.