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Paper – The Marginalization of Black Aspiring Lawyers

Aaron N. Taylor, The Marginalization of Black Aspiring Lawyers, 13 FIU L. Rev. 489 (2019). Available at:

“This paper argues that Black people who aspire to be lawyers endure marginalized existences, which span the law school admission process through the matriculation process and into the law school classroom. The manner in which the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) drives the vetting of law school applications ensures that Black applicants face steep disadvantages in gaining admission. In the 2016-17 admission cycle, it took about 1,960 Black applicants to yield 1,000 offers of admission, compared to only 1,204 among White applicants and 1,333 overall. These trends are explained in large part by racial and ethnic disparities in average LSAT scores. The average score for Black test-takers is 142—11 points lower than the average for White and Asian test-takers of 153. Therefore, for large proportions of Black law school applicants—49 percent in 2016-17—their marginalization in the admission process ends in outright exclusion…Unfortunately, for many Black applicants who do receive offers of admission, the marginalization process continues. They are often required to pay higher proportions of their law school’s “sticker price” than other students. They are also disproportionately funneled into schools with the least favorable outcomes. Lastly, they are exposed to a curriculum that is presented in a way that alienates Black students and other students from underrepresented backgrounds. Part I of the paper introduces the concept of marginalization. Part II explains how the law school admission process funnels Black students into schools with the least favorable outcomes. Part III discusses how law school scholarship policies contribute to higher student loan debt among Black students. Part IV argues that the law school environment marginalizes Black students through the lack of diversity and the centrality of White racial and cultural norms. In the end, Black law students are often, in the words of Du Bois, outcasts and strangers in their own law schools, if they are not excluded from law school altogether…”

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