Orfield, Gary, & Whitla, Dean
Diversity and Legal Education: Student Experiences in Leading Law Schools
Explore the impact of diversity by asking students how it has influenced their educational experiences.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Harvard Education Publishing Group
In Diversity Challenged
- Law students reflect much of the diversity of the nation and report a wide range of experience n views on issues of race and civil rights. Large majorities have experienced powerful educational experiences from interaction with students of other races.
- White students appear to have a particularly enriching experience, since they are by far the most likely to have grown up with little interracial contact.
- Findings of this research clearly affirm the judgments of the courts and the leaders of legal education thirty-five years ago when they embarked on policies that led to the diversity that most of today's students find so beneficial to their legal education and to understanding critical dimensions of their profession.
- Almost no Blacks and Latinos who succeeded in enrolling in these elite law schools came form highly segregated childhood and education, but almost half of the Whites did.
- Students tended to report that their experiences were substantially improved in diverse classes.
- More than two-third of the students in each school found diversity to lead to an enhancement of their thinking about problems in their classes.
- Successful contact appears to depend, for example, on "equal status interaction" settings in which people are treated equally and interact as peers.
- When asked about their opinion on their law school's minority admission policy, 45% felt that the existing policies for diversity were insufficient and more should be done, 36% believed that the present policies were correct, and 16% favored doing less or nothing at all. Only 19% of Whites and 8% of Asian Americans wanted to deemphasize or end affirmative admissions policies.
- Students thought that there should be more effort by the schools to foster stronger interactions.
Chapter in Book
Method of Analysis:
LawStudents at Harvard and University of Michigan
Unit of Analysis:
- Gallup Poll of a questionnaire at Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan Law School.
- 81% of the students participated in the survey. This is a total of 1,820 students.