Race, Diversity & Maryland Law Journal StaffPresentation Transcript
Race, Diversity & Maryland Law Journal Staff Membership BILL FERGUSON, TEACHING FELLOW APRIL 25, 2009
“ People in general are very afraid to talk about race matters. I feel like this avoidance is enhanced in law school. I've heard our law school is diverse but when I look around, the student majority is white with a few people of color sprinkled in the lecture halls. Law school is still very much the white boys club. Getting deep into discussions about race really scares people and rarely [do] our law school classes create an atmosphere where people can be very open about race matters. How often does critical race theory come up in class? For me, never.
As lawyers, the more we avoid talking about race, the less we really get what our profession is about. The reality is that people of color are disproportionately negatively affected by the laws in our society .”
2L, Student of Color, Maryland Law*
*drawn from student survey
To evaluate the dynamics of race & Maryland Law’s journal staff membership, the presentation progresses as follows:
A look at Maryland Law’s history with issues of diversity and the enrollment of historically underrepresented minority groups.
A review of scholarly research on the issue of affirmative action, journal membership, and racial preference in the law school arena.
An explanation and analysis of a Maryland Law journal staff member survey about the relevant issues.
A review of efforts at diversity (or lack thereof) by other law schools’ Law Review organizations.
Recommendations for implementation by Maryland Law Review .
Introduction & History
Introduction – The Issue
During the Spring 2009 semester, I began examining the racial composition of the membership of the various law school journals at Maryland Law. As a member of the Maryland Law Review , the stark lack of diversity bothered me. As I looked a bit closer at the other four law journals, there seemed to exist a common trend: white law students significantly over-represented journal staffs, and student of color membership did not reflect the law school’s minority enrollment at the school as a whole:
Maryland Law Review – 6 (11%) of 54 members are of non-caucasian heritage.* Of the six, there is only one black law student, one Latino/Latina student, and four students of Asian descent.
Journal of Business and Technology – 11 (24%) of 45 members are of non-caucasian heritage. Only 2 of the 11 non-white students are black, 1 is Latino/Latina, and 8 are Asian.
Journal of Health Care Law & Policy – 7 (17%) of 42 members are of non-caucasian heritage. 3 of the 7 non-white students are black, 1 is Latina, and 3 are of Asian descent.
Journal of International Law – 3 (21%) of the 14 members are of non-caucasian heritage. 1 is black, and 2 are Latino.
Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class – 8 (20%) of 39 members are of non-caucasian heritage. 4 of the non-white students are black, and 4 are of Asian descent.
NOTE: These findings are not through self-identification, as the Admissions Office embargoes such information after admission into the law school. While the results may be off slightly, the reported numbers represent a good faith distribution of the racial composition of the Maryland Law journals.
The crux of this presentation focuses on the racial composition of Maryland’s law journals. Embedded issues within this topic are vast, including affirmative action, student support, etc., but the journal-membership argument provides a limited scope for analysis.
*For the purposes of the presentation, I generally make the distinction between caucasian and non-caucasian heritage. This is an unscientific proxy used throughout the data. The purpose is to distinguish perceptions between white and non-white students to determine whether issues of racial diversity affect these groups differently. Additionally, because most of the membership of journals are white, most survey responses reflect the opinions of the white cohort. Further disclaimers will be included as necessary.
Maryland Law & Diversity - Historically
Maryland Law’s history does not necessarily reflect a stellar past in the realm of racial integration. While the law school has engaged in recent attempts at increasing racial diversity in enrollment in the late 20 th century, past discrimination against racial minorities must still be considered:
The University of Maryland School of Law’s racially discriminatory refusal to admit black applicants led the way for Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall to challenge the “separate but equal” doctrine. In 1935, NAACP activists Houston and Marshall represented Donald Gaines Murray in Murray v. Pearson , 169 Md. 478 (1936), in which the Law School was forced to concede to more inclusionary practices. Formerly, the Law School had denied the entrance of Thurgood Marshall on account of his race.
As of 2001-2002, Maryland ranked the fifth worst integrated state measured by black students’ enrollment in majority white undergraduate and graduate programs. See Bonnie Thornton Dill, Brown v. Board of Education Presentation: Provost’s Conversation on Diversity , University of Maryland (April 2004), available at http://bit.ly/tLi7r (citing 2001-2002 NCES Common Core of Data).
In October 1999, the State of Maryland was required to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to ensure that Maryland’s public education institutions of higher learning provided sufficient access opportunities for the State’s minority populations, particularly for African Americans and Latinos. Maryland provides a yearly report to the OCR to update on the progress the State has made to increase opportunity’s for the State’s underrepresented minorities. See Maryland Higher Education Commission, OCR Agreement , available at http://bit.ly/D9Gi7 .
Maryland Law today generally enrolls 30% self-identified people of color in each law school class. See http://www.law.umaryland.edu/prospective/community/diversity.html .
Although not including an analysis of Maryland Law, comparison information for other law schools’ practices may be found here: http://www.law.com/special/pdf/BCGbook_2003_blue.pdf .
Review of Current Research – Orfield & Whitla
Gary Orfield & Dean Whitla, Diversity and Legal Education: Student Experiences in Leading Law Schools , in DIVERSITY CHALLENGED 143-74 (Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2001)
This article provides the foundation for the survey conducted to gather the viewpoints of Maryland Law’s journal staff members.
Before getting to the meat of the subject-matter, Orfield and Whitla briefly lay out the history of affirmative action policies in the United States as shaped by Supreme Court decisions. See id. at 143-149. They discuss the historical decisions of Brown and Sweat and compare the legal issues to the decisions in Hopwood and Bakke . As the Court indicated in both cases, diversity has been a central concept upholding any need for active integration or desegregation. Ultimately, the cases, and more recent jurisprudence, rely on the foundation that diversity enhances the learning experience by allowing multiple perspectives to evaluate and discuss educational subject matters. For any affirmative action or diversity-promoting program to be constitutional, diversity itself must be an underlying benefit, and evidence is needed to show that diversity does in fact promote more enhanced educational outcomes.
Gary Orfield, a prominent researcher in the sociological impacts of diversity programming, provides a qualitative review of survey data collected from students at Harvard Law and University of Michigan School of Law. Id. at 154-55. The researchers hired Gallop Poll to conduct the scientific research, and the analysis provided rather interesting conclusions:
Most law students, particularly white students, have little interaction in diverse communities before they begin college. Diverse interactions tend to increase along the educational spectrum.
A strong majority of students surveyed indicated that diverse friendships and diverse interactions enriched their learning experience and enhanced their understanding of legal concepts.
Those who disagreed with any need to increase diverse interactions with students of different races often believed that factors other than race should be highlighted in any diversity discussion. Additionally, even including this small minority against race-preference affirmative action, a strong majority of students, both white and non-white, believed that law schools did not do enough to encourage diverse programming after initial admissions decisions.
Review of Current Research - Sander
Richard H. Sander, A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools , 57 Stan. L. Rev. 367 (2004).
Sander’s article likely serves as the most discussed and most renowned piece of analysis that reviews the effects of affirmative action on the law school experience. Although in the article he describes himself a self-proclaimed liberal with a son who would benefit from affirmative action, Sander finds that the aggregate effect of affirmative action policies in law schools after Grutter and Gratz serves to undermine minority students’ successes in the legal profession. Scholars since have refuted his conclusions on many fronts, and he has published several responses in defense of his major findings. He conducts an in-depth statistical analysis of law students’ entrance scores (LSAT), entrance GPA, performance in law school, success in law school organizations, bar passage rates, and long-term professional outcomes. He argues that under the premise of increasing diversity, law school affirmative action policies essentially cause academically less qualified minority students to face harsh barriers to success in law school where they likely could have achieved better results had they attended a less prestigious institution.
Generally, Sander concludes:
Law schools employ a variety of affirmative action policies to comply with Gratz and Grutter that all tend to result in similar outcomes.
Racial preference policies are not limited to elite institutions, and the trickle down effect of affirmative action burdens minorities at all law schools, no matter how elite.
Numerical predictors, such as LSAT score and law school GPA, tend to have strong and unbiased influence on long-term professional success in the legal market.
The black-white achievement gap in law school is immense, and as a result minority students complete law school significantly less often than their white peers. Such evidence suggests that intra-law school policies after admission do not appropriately support students who enroll if race preference contributed to their admission.
“ Affirmative action thus artificially depresses, quite substantially, the rate at which blacks pass the bar.” Id. at 373.
Black law students who complete law school and pass the bar tend to be successful in the legal marketplace, and law school “eliteness” only enhances minority students’ market success if they attend the most elite law schools.
Race-blind admissions would serve to increase the “annual number of new black lawyers.” Id. at 374.
Review of Current Research - Moran
Rachel F. Moran, Diversity and its Discontents: The End of Affirmative Action at Boalt Hall , 88 Cal. L. Rev. 2241 (2000).
Moran examines the effect of Boalt Hall’s (University of California law school) required reduction/elimination of its race-based affirmative action policy as a result of California voters’ referendum against race-based affirmative action in 1996. As the author mentions, before the abolition of the policy, Boalt Hall was one of the most ethnically and racially diverse law schools in the country. Id. at 2246. The author conducted in-depth interviews with Boalt Hall students, some of which were 1Ls and 2Ls when the school’s affirmative action policies were in place and others were current 1Ls who entered without an admission policy that included affirmative action principles.
Examining significant Supreme Court precedents that framed the boundary of the affirmative action debates, Moran provides an in-depth analysis of affirmative action’s history and its presence in the Boalt Hall admission process. Moran premises her article on Justice Powell’s statement on diversity in Bakke , that diversity may be a compelling interest as it enhances the learning experience by providing a multitude of perspectives in the learning process.
A significant number of first-years believed that the lack of diversity in their classes “hampered” meaningful discussion of cases in which race or ethnicity were central concepts to the legal outcomes.
A minority of students’ study groups included students of diverse ethnic or racial backgrounds, particularly in the first-year classes.
Issues of lacking diversity on journals was a common concern among students, and many believed that journals with topics focused on minority issues tended to draw disproportionately from the cohort of minority students.
Students’ perceptions about racially-targeted student groups were mixed.
While many students said they had friends in law school of diverse races, a clear majority believed that the student body segregated itself along racial lines.
Ultimately, regardless of the affirmative action or racial preference system employed for admissions, most students failed to integrate meaningfully in the school setting, and racial segregation continued to be a persistent barrier to fully realize the benefits of diversity-based initiatives.
Review of Current Research – Lempert et al.
Richard O. Lempert, William Kidder, Timothy T. Clydesdale, & David L. Chambers, Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: A Critical Response to Richard Sander’s “A Reply to Critics ,” Paper 60, John M. Olin Center for Law & Economics Working Papers (2006), available at http://bit.ly/ddFQl .
After Sander published his initial article, many scholars criticized his findings. Sander produced A Reply to Critics to defend some of his initial claims, and this article responds to Sander’s secondary report.
Generally, the authors attack the “weaknesses in the logic that underlies many of Sander’s assumptions and arguments and show that his reply does not salvage the case against affirmative action that he claimed to have made in his Stanford article.” Id. at 2.
Generally question the statistical methods and conclusions that Sander announced in his initial and follow-up pieces on affirmative action.
Attempt to show that Sander’s belief in a 90% achievement gap between black and white law students caused by affirmative action is mathematically and argumentatively implausible. They believe that placing so much impact on affirmative action as the causal factor fails to meet intense scrutiny, and they claim that Sander’s mathematical calculations are not able to be reproduced.
The authors suggest that the law school atmosphere is the driving factor for long-term minority performance, and the affirmative action policies themselves are not the driving predictors of academic troubles.
Take issue with Sander’s refusal to include analysis of other industries in which affirmative action has been abolished and the resultant decline in diverse outcomes, not an increase in the success of minority completers.
Hold that the connection between increased bar passage standards and the relationship with affirmative action policies are factors that are correlated rather than caused by one another.
Argue that affirmative action is the incorrect place in which to emphasize issues embedded in black-white achievement gaps in law school
Maryland Law Journal Member Survey & Analysis
A LOOK AT THE STUDENT SURVEY Three separate surveys were administered: (1) to the Maryland Law Review , (2) to the staff members of Maryland’s other legal journals, and (3) to the members of minority-associated student groups. The only critical changes were those in the first two “basics” questions. The substantive responses were generated from the same prompts. Survey was emailed to participants, and 3 days passed before any analyzing of the results occurred. While I wish I were able to gather more responses, the general trends tell an interesting story.
Included in the following slides are the results of the survey. Included also are the most notable tables, and the remaining tables are provided in the presentation’s separate appendix. In all, I have generated 37 tables from students’ responses.
Overall 51 students took the survey. 38 were white, and 13 were non-white.
Maryland Law Review members were the majority of survey-takers, but many of the following slides will focus on all journal members collectively.
TABLE 17 – Survey Totals Racial Identity Total Caucasian Heritage 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 13 Grand Total 51 TABLE 37 – Journal and Race Totals Racial Identity Basics 2 Total Caucasian Heritage Journal of Health Care Law and Policy 7 Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class 4 Maryland Journal of International Law 4 Maryland Law Review 23 Caucasian Heritage Total 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage Journal of Health Care Law and Policy 3 Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class 8 Maryland Journal of International Law 1 Maryland Law Review 1 Non-Caucasian Heritage Total 13 Grand Total 51
Diversity in Development
The patterns in diverse development match those found in the scholarly surveys at Harvard and Michigan Law.
The majority of white students marked 1, 2, or 3 (71% & 58%) for diversity before and during high school, meaning they had rather non-diverse early developmental experiences. However, the majority marked 4 or 5 for diversity in college and law school (50% & 58%). As these students entered institutions of higher learning, their interactions with diverse populations increased.
Noticeably, minority students interacted with diverse individuals earlier and more often than their white peers.
TABLE 4 – Diversity in Early Development by Race Racial Identity 1 2 3 4 5 Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 9 9 9 3 8 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 3 10 13 Grand Total 9 9 12 3 18 51 TABLE 5 – Diversity in High School by Race Racial Identity 1 2 3 4 5 Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 6 9 7 8 8 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 1 1 11 13 Grand Total 6 9 8 9 19 51 TABLE 6 – Diversity in College by Race Racial Identity 1 2 3 4 5 Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 1 8 10 7 12 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 2 11 13 Grand Total 1 8 12 7 23 51 TABLE 7 – Diversity in Law School by Race Racial Identity 2 3 4 5 Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 5 11 11 11 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 3 2 8 13 Grand Total 5 14 13 19 51
Diversity Affecting Law School
Generally, of those surveyed, white students more often study in racially homogeneous groups while non-white students are more likely to study in diverse groups or study alone.
A clear majority of students believe that diversity positively influences their law school experiences and in some way affects their informal school relationships with one another.
Except for 7 white students, all students believed that diversity enhanced their learning, with a strong majority believing that racial diversity was “Clearly Positive.”
*Here, 1 = “almost never”; 5 = “all the time”; and 6 = “study alone” TABLE 8 – Diversity in Law School Studying by Race Racial Identity 1 2 3 4 5 6 Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 10 5 4 5 6 8 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 1 4 4 4 13 Grand Total 10 6 8 5 10 12 51 TABLE 9 – Diversity Affecting Law School Experience Racial Identity 1: Enhances Experience 2: Moderately Enhances 3: No Impact 4: Moderately Detracts Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 11 14 11 2 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 3 7 3 13 Grand Total 14 21 14 2 51 TABLE 10 – Diversity Affecting Informal Relationships Racial Identity 1: Enhances Experience 2: Moderately Enhances 3: No Impact Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 11 10 17 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 3 4 6 13 Grand Total 14 14 23 51 TABLE 11 – Diversity Affecting Law School Learning Experience Racial Identity 1: Clearly Positive 2: Moderately Positive 3: No Impact Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 24 7 7 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 11 2 13 Grand Total 35 9 7 51
Diversity Affecting Legal Issues
Across racial lines, a strong majority of students believed that taking classes with students of different races enhanced their understanding of the criminal justice system (75% marking 1, 2, 3, or 4) and social & economic institutions (86%, same). White students, though, were more likely than non-white students to mark that diverse interactions enhanced their understanding either “A Great Deal,” “Substantially,” or “Significantly.”
Interestingly, a minority of students thought that diversity would affect their own understanding of legal professionalism.
TABLE 12 – Diversity Affecting Beliefs about Criminal Justice System Racial Identity 1: A Great Deal 2: Substantially 3: Significantly 4: A Little 5: Not at All Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 8 3 5 13 9 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 2 2 5 4 13 Grand Total 10 5 5 18 13 51 TABLE 13 - Racial Diversity & Perception of Social and Economic Institutions Racial Identity 1: A Great Deal 2: Substantially 3: Significantly 4: A Little 5: Not at All Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 8 7 2 15 6 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 4 2 2 4 1 13 Grand Total 12 9 4 19 7 51 TABLE 14 - Racial Diversity & Professionalism Racial Identity 1: A Great Deal 2: Substantially 3: Significantly 4: A Little 5: Not at All Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 4 3 6 15 10 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 1 3 3 4 2 13 Grand Total 5 6 9 19 12 51
School Admission & Journal Membership
For the most sensitive questions on the survey, white students’ responses split more often than for any other diversity-related question.
A strong majority (80%) of students believe that the law school’s admissions policy of race-preference affirmative action should stay the same or be strengthened, and only 20% (20% of whites and 15% of non-whites) thought any race-preference policy should be reduced or diminished.
On the whole, a sizeable number (43%) of journal staff members thought that diversity would enhance their journal experience while the majority thought it would have no impact (51%).
TABLE 15 - Racial Diversity & Law School Admissions Racial Identity Deemphasize or Discontinue Policy Maintain Policy Strengthen Policy Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 8 21 9 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 2 10 1 13 Grand Total 10 31 10 51 TABLE 16 - Racial Diversity & Journal Staff Racial Identity 1: Positively Enhance Significantly 2: Positively Enhance Slightly 3: No Impact 4: Detract Slightly 5: Detract Significantly Grand Total Caucasian Heritage 7 10 18 1 2 38 Non-Caucasian Heritage 1 4 8 13 Grand Total 8 14 26 1 2 51
Survey Notes & Conclusions
The survey data implications were immense, and given more time, richer analysis would be possible.
Overall, white Maryland Law journal staff members were most likely to grow up with few racially diverse interactions, and their diverse interactions increased as they attended college and law school. Non-white students, though, generally had diverse relationships throughout their lives. This trend reflects scholarly research cited previously.
Most students, both white and non-white, thought that racial diversity in some way enhanced their learning experience, either in the classroom, through their informal relationships, or as a member of a journal.
The most significantly split opinions often centered on politically charged questions, namely questions directly asking about affirmative action policies. The messaging and framing of any potential race-based alteration to the journal selection process must require this sensitivity.
A LOOK AT OTHER LAW REVIEWS ’ MEMBERSHIP SELECTION POLICIES Rank School Policy (if available) ** Maryland Law Review (no diversity policy) The Maryland Law Review selects approximately twenty-five to thirty new staff members each year through the petitioning process. The first 75% of positions will be filled by the petitions with the highest numerical scores as evaluated by the Law Review. The remaining 25% of positions are determined by a combination of writing and grades. No one will be invited to join the Maryland Law Review without writing an acceptable petition. 1 Harvard Law Review Fourteen editors (two from each 1L section) are selected based on a combination of their first-year grades and their competition scores. Twenty editors are selected based solely on their competition scores. The remaining editors are selected on a discretionary basis. Some of these discretionary slots may be used to implement the Review' s affirmative action policy. 2 Yale Law Review Unavailable. 3 Columbia Law Review Of the approximately 42 students invited to join the Review as editors, 10 are selected solely on the basis of their Writing Competition Scores. Next, 25 students are selected on the basis of a combination of their Competition Scores and 1L grades. Finally, 7 students are selected based on a combination of their Competition Scores, 1L grades, and a personal statement. 4 Stanford
The Stanford Law Review is committed to diversity in its membership. This year we have demonstrated our commitment in a number of ways, including:
Institutionalizing efforts to recruit diverse candidates by adding a focus on diversity to the responsibilities of the Senior Development Editor in charge of membership
Conducting a critical review of the candidate exercise with experienced professors in order to minimize the disparate impact of the exercise upon students of color
Holding informational sessions for purposes of recruiting students of color
Reaching out to students (and especially women) from typically underrepresented career interests (corporate, business, public interest, and others)
5 NYU Law Review All applicants to the Law Review must submit a personal statement of no more than 500 words. The information contained in these personal statements allows the Law Review to realize its commitment to staff diversity. The Law Review evaluates personal statements in light of various factors, including (but not limited to) race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, socio-economic background, ideological viewpoint, disability, and age. With regard to these and other aspects of diversity, applicants should clearly identify and discuss any personal characteristics, background, unique experiences, or qualifications that the applicant would like to bring to the attention of the Selection Committee.
A LOOK AT LOWER-RANKED LAW REVIEWS ’ MEMBERSHIP SELECTION POLICIES Rank School Policy (if available) 25 Illinois Law Review (no diversity policy) Before the beginning of each fall semester, the Editor-in-Chief invites the top-ranking applicants to become members of the Law Review. The Board will invite a minimum of 30 participants for membership. The top 5 ranking applicants (based on class rank) from each first-year section who have also made a good faith effort in the writing competition will receive invitations. “Good faith effort” is defined as a paper that falls within the top 75% of the papers submitted. The remaining needs of the membership will be filled by selecting applicants with the highest scores on the writing competition who have at least two remaining semesters and are in good academic standing. 35 Indiana Law Review (no diversity policy) Students who are not within the top 10% of their class but are within the top 40% of their class, and who participate in the writing competition, may also be invited to join. Participation in the writing competition is not required for those students who are in the top 10% of their class after completion of the spring semester, but because we cannot determine who is in the top 10% until after spring semester grades are received from the Recorder in July, students are strongly encouraged to participate in the writing competition to protect themselves should they fall from the top 10%. Those who do not participate in the writing competition and who are not in the top 10% will not be considered for Law Review membership. 40 Connecticut Law Review (no diversity policy) No Policy. Grades and writing competition. 45 University of Cincinnati Law Review (no diversity policy) The University of Cincinnati Law Review is a quarterly publication produced by second and third-year law students. The Review, along with its counterparts at all other accredited law schools, makes a significant contribution to scholarly legal literature. In addition, the Review represents the College of Law to the outside community. Each year, approximately 30 students are invited to join the Law Review as Associate Members. All Associate Members are chosen on the basis of first year grade point average combined with a writing competition score. The competition begins immediately after completion of first year studies. 50 Hofstra Law Review (no diversity policy) Our membership consists of the finest students from each class. First-year students in the full-time program who are in the top five percent of their section, based on their first-year cumulative grade point average, receive an invitation to join. The five winners of our annual writing competition are automatically invited to join as well. The remainder of our membership is selected based upon a combination of grade point average and writing competition score. Ultimately, the selection process is governed by the Hofstra Law Review Association Amended and Restated Bylaws.
The Maryland Law Review should consider revising its selection criteria to better reflect members’ own perspectives and to model best-practices from higher ranked Law Reviews .
The almost exclusively white MLR staff dampens the opportunity for diverse interactions in the daily operations of the journal.
Maryland Law Review staff members generally experienced more racially diverse interactions as they progressed through their academic careers. A strong majority of Law Review members noted that the increased diversity enhanced their learning experiences, benefited their learning processes, and increased their awareness about relevant legal issues.
Every journal ranked in the top 15, except for the University of Chicago Law Review , includes an outreach program, a personal statement, or a quota to achieve diverse perspectives amongst its staff. Replicating such best practices would not be perfunctory, such actions likely would be for the betterment of the journal itself and for its staff members.
The Maryland Law Review and the Writing Center should collaborate, endorse, and sponsor recruitment and skills-support sessions targeted at non-white populations at the law school before petitioning.
Without having to alter the selection process, the MLR could join with the Writing Center to advertise targeted support sessions to students of color to increase the likelihood that these students succeed in the “double-blind” selection process, which currently maintains a staff almost exclusively composed of white law students.
As indicated in the student survey, most study groups at Maryland Law are racially homogeneous. The informal skills that students pass to one another may be reaching white and non-white students differently. A MLR skills-session open to all but targeted at students of color, which because of the nature of the racial composition of the MLR staff, would help to more efficiently and effectively distribute the informal knowledge that allows students to earn a spot on Law Review .
The Writing Center has a history of engaging in such practices. In 2007, the student-director of the Writing Center, as relayed to this author by Professor Hankin, set up and held such a session. The initiative was exclusively on the efforts of the individual law student who sought to address a present problem. Additionally, Dean LaMaster, when then-Editor in Chief of the MLR , also held a similar skills session, sponsored by the MLR and targeted at students of color to increase the diversity of the MLR staff.
The Office of Student Affairs should engage in a meaningful and more expansive survey of students regarding race & the law school experience. Afterwards, the Office of Student Affairs should widely advertise and host diverse dialogue sessions amongst 1L and upper-class students to foster discussion about the survey results and the “unspoken-of” race issues that linger in the minds of law students.
The conducted survey only touched the surface of the many issues of race and the law school experience at Maryland Law. Given more time and resources, a survey could help to flush out the opinions of diverse students and serve as a starting-point for discussion.
Scholarly research indicates that though admissions may break the initial, historical racial segregation trends of law school enrollment, segregation of ideas among different racial groups persists and post-enrollment interaction between racial groups of law students is lacking.
Using the survey results as the foundation for dialogue prevents minority students from having the traditional burden and informal obligation of “representing minority views” or “speaking for their race” with white colleagues. Eliminating this roadblock would assist in messaging the discussions as purposeful, non-hostile, and educational.
Questions & Concerns Race, Diversity & Maryland Law Journal Staff Membership FOR QUESTIONS OR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT BILL FERGUSON, [email_address]