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Methodology

 

The purpose of this report is

  • to provide a way of measuring the extent to which non-Hispanic White students are overrepresented in law schools

  • to provide a mechanism of comparing law schools' training of a racially representative group of lawyers as we move toward becoming a "nation of minorities"   

 


 

The objectives of this report are to report:

  • the percentage of non-Hispanic White students  in each first-year law school class
  • the difference between the percentage of non-Hispanic White students in the law school first-year class and the percentage of non-Hispanic White students in the state, regional and national LSAC applicant pools
  • the difference between the percentage of non-Hispanic White students in the law school first-year class and the state population of non-Hispanic White students
  • how law schools compare to each other.

 

Methods

The Whiteness of a law school is calculated by adding one-fourth of the "Total Whiteness" in a law school to the total "Excess Whiteness" score. The higher the score, the Whiter the law school. The Whiter a law school, the less it meets America’s diverse racial legal needs.

White Students were identified as Non-Hispanic Whites and Unknowns. It does not include students who identified as White Hispanics, Biracial, or Multiracial.

Total Whiteness was calculated by dividing the total number of non-Hispanic White students in first-year enrollment for 2017-2019 by the total number of students enrolled in the first year of law school during the same period.

Excess Whiteness was calculated by adding the Excess Whiteness based on LSAC applicant pools and state population. For each pool, Excess Whiteness was calculated by subtracting the percentage of White students in the first-year enrollment for 2017 through 2019 from the percentage of Whiteness in that pool. The expectation is that law school will be no Whiter than the national LSAC applicant pool, state LSAC applicant pool, regional LSAC applicant pool, or the state population. On each Whiteness factor, no points were assigned to a school that had negative Whiteness. Then a sum was obtained by adding the national LSAC applicant pool, the regional LSAC applicant pool, the state LSAC applicant pool, and the state population. The higher the number, the more Excess Whiteness. 

 


 

Definitions:

Whiteness is defined as Caucasian only plus students who failed to disclose a racial identity, Hispanic Whites, Biracial, and Multiracial were counted as nonwhite. Questions have been raised about the methodology of calculating Unknowns as White students. If we did not include these students as White, then schools with a large number of White students who failed to report their race would look less White than they were. I decided to count Unknown as White to avoid penalizing schools where most of the applicants report race; to avoid rewarding schools for reporting many students as Unknown; and to have a consistent methodology. 

State population is the total population. This differs from the 2004 report that was limited to the college-age population. 

LSAC application pool is the total number of  LSAC applications from persons who list a particular state as their home state. This also forms the basis for regional LSAC applications.

Historically White law schools (HWLS) have traditionally been de facto White with no significant history of proportionately serving nonwhite students. Of the 200 schools in the database, 191 (95.5%) are HWLS. Excluded from being classified as an HWLS are:

District of Columbia, University of
Florida A & M University
Hawaii, University of
Howard University
North Carolina Central University
The Pontifical Catholic University of P.R.
Puerto Rico, University of
Southern University
Texas Southern University

 

Public/Private designation was based on the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar listing as a public school or private ownership. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legaleducation/resources/abaapprovedlawschools/ 

Regions are defined according to the ABA/LSAC Official Guide. There are 10 regions:  Far West, Great Lakes, Midsouth, Midwest, Mountain West, New England, Northeast, Northwest, South Central, and Southeast.

Tier designation. Schools are divided into four tiers based on the U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of law schools. Deans, ABA, and LSAC all reject the ranking. However, law schools and applicants, all rely on the ranking as a measure of external worth. 

 


 

Descriptive Statistics include the mean, median, minimum, maximum. The purpose of these statistics is to give the reader a picture of the data collected and used. The mean is the average, around which the data clusters. All data in a sample is used. It is appropriate for data measured at least at the interval level. Median is the middle value when data in a sample is arranged in order. It is suitable for data measured at least at the ordinal level.  Unlike, the 2004 Whitest Law School Report, These statistics are drawn only from all schools and not just the historically White law schools.

One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). ANOVA is used to identify differences between the means of independent (unrelated) groups. One-way ANOVA compares the means between the historically and non-historically White law schools, public versus private schools, tiers, states, and regions. ANOVA determines whether any of those means are statistically significantly different from each other.

Statistical significance occurs when there is a 5% or less probability that an observed difference occurred by random chance. (p<=.05)  However, just because a difference is not statistically significant does not mean the difference is not important, particularly programmatically. For instance,  a law school may still want to address a racial difference that is only 30% likely to have occurred by random chance (p=.30).

It is also important to remember that correlation does not necessarily mean causation.  ANOVA cannot tell why specific groups were statistically significantly different from each other.

 


 

The information sources for this report are:

  • the 2020 ABA-LSAC official guide. This information is reported to the ABA as a requirement of accreditation. The information in the guide is based on the 2019 application/admission cycle. See the American Bar Association - Law School Admission Council (as of September 20, 2020) (See Link Here),

  • the Law School Admission Council, Applicant Counts by State and Ethnicity 2017-2019.xlsx  (Unpublished Data received from Director of Reports, Law School Admission Council (September 16, 1920)

  • the U.S. Census Bureau, Explore Census Data (as of September 20, 2020) (See Link Here).

 

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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