‘White Flight’ Hits Nation’s Law Schools

Matt Leichter, American Lawyer, November 27, 2013

As the number of applicants to law school continues to dwindle, some writers have begun pondering the demographic challenges facing law schools. Attorney Keith Lee and University of Saint Thomas School of law professor Jerry Organ recently wrote articles highlighting the decline in graduates from elite, “feeder” universities applying to law school. At the same time, recent law school applicants tend to have lower LSAT scores than their predecessors. Both of these observations fit into a developing narrative that highly intelligent and affluent college graduates are forgoing law school.

A different look at the data reveals a more profound trend: Most of the 8,651-student net decline in law school enrollments between 2010 and 2012 is attributable to white male law students going unreplaced. White women account for another big chunk of the decline. In fact, of the 7,776 fewer 1Ls entering law school over that two-year period, 6,528 (84 percent) fit into the “White/Caucasian” ethnic category. For a profession sensitive about a dearth of women and minorities, the idea that white men—and, to a lesser degree, white women—are losing interest in law school might be welcomed as a sign that the legal profession is poised to become more ethnically diverse. But analysis of Official Guide law school demographics data shows that any hopes that the law school applicant crunch will help make that happen are misplaced.

Here’s a look at the decline in law school enrollment broken down by gender and ethnicity. (I have excluded Puerto Rico’s three law schools throughout this article.)


The enrollment decrease is actually even more ethnically lopsided considering that students whose ethnicity is “unknown” are usually white. That is, the higher a law school’s percentage of unknown ethnicity students, the smaller its proportion of white students, and vice versa. In one glaring example, it’s highly doubtful that Cornell Law School’s sudden, one-year surge in law students of unknown ethnicity from 0 to 39 percent in 2012 can be explained by a flood of minorities when the percentage of white students collapsed from 55 to 16 percent. (For statisticians, in 2012 the correlation coefficient for the percentage of unknown ethnicity students and other ethnicities was -0.36 for white students; black students came in at a distant second at -0.15.)

Furthermore, the apparent growth within the minority student category over these two years has not been distributed evenly. The number of applicants among people identifying themselves as Asian is down, while the number of Hispanic applicants and those who identify themselves as “two or more races” are up.

Unlike total enrollments, the total number of minority first-year students has declined between 2010 and 2012. Total minority enrollments may drop in 2013 or 2014 as a result.

These changes in law school demographics raise an obvious question for those interested in the profession’s diversity: Which law schools account for the drop in white students? Answer: Not the most popular ones.

Using the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings—not because they measure prestige precisely but because they are widely known—it’s clear that the bulk of the 6,528-person decline in white 1Ls occurred at lower-ranked schools. The 101 schools with a ranking of 100 or less accounted for only 38 percent of the decrease, while the top 50 were only responsible for 17 percent, and the famed top 14 just 3 percent. The 48 remaining schools, along with the rank-not-published University of La Verne, accounted for 41 percent of the lost white 1Ls.


Another way to explore the change in law schools’ diversity is to look at the ethnic composition of their 1L classes. In 2010, the median law school’s entering class was 71 percent white. Two years later it dropped three percentage points to 68 percent. Here is a table showing the average percentage-point change in law schools’ ethnic compositions. Notably, when white 1Ls and unknown ethnicity 1Ls are added together to cancel out illusory movements in white 1Ls as at Cornell, it appears that the most prestigious law schools are enrolling slightly higher proportions of white students while less prestigious schools are becoming much more diverse.

T-14 -0.1% 0.8% -1.8%
T-50 0.3% 0.0% -0.9%
51-100 -1.3% -0.8% -0.4%
>100 -1.9% -2.7% 2.4%
NP + La Verne -6.3% -7.2% 6.8%

It isn’t evident whether enrollments at individual law schools are shrinking by choice or because of a fall-off in applicants. {snip}

It’s clear that the most prestigious law schools are about as ethnically diverse as they ever were. The only difference is that they are more willing to admit applicants with slightly lower test scores, which in practical terms at most schools means white applicants because they tend to do better on the LSAT due to socioeconomic factors.


And just where are white college graduates fleeing to? Maybe the record number of applications to medical schools this year has something to do with it.

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  • Whites are realizing that there are just too many lawyers, that you’re not going to bag six figures immediately after you graduate, and probably not ever.

    The minorities trending to poorly ranked or unranked law schools need not worry. If they graduate, there will be an affirmative action job waiting for them, somewhere.

    • Oil Can Harry

      1. As you noted there was a glut of lawyers in recent years and the market is correcting itself.

      2. As the number of white male law students drop so do the students’ average SAT scores. The liberal media believes this is pure coincidence.

      3. God help any innocent defendants out there on trial for murder and being defended by affirmative action buffoons speaking in ebonics and/or Spanglish.

      • M.

        My clien din do nuffin!

        • RHG


      • obot

        When the judge and jury look like the defendant, what does it matter?

    • With less than 5% of the world’s population, the USA has 50% of the world’s lawyers. There is no shortage at all here.

  • MikeofAges

    Law often can be a difficult career. Some never make a credible living at it. For those who do succeed, success can mean a life of very hard work and scarring emotional experiences. For those who do succeed, they experience great resentment because their incomes start where other people’s incomes, even those with degrees, begin to fall off. A $60,000 income is pretty poor for a successful lawyers but can be pretty good for even for someone with a graduate degree. Yet lawyers often do not understand this resentment because they see themselves as working much harder than the people in their social circles with comparable incomes, people like public administrators, school administrators, business owners and corporate managers and executives. Or so I imagine, anyway. Law is a hard career, and not the only way to make big money during your lifetime. Yet there also are rewards available which come much harder to other people, the opportunity to hold high office for example. There is also risk in the law, the risk of disbarrment or worse for running afoul of regulations that do not apply to anyone else.

    • William Krapek

      100% true. It’s amazing how hard successful lawyers work. Sixty hour work week, easily.

  • DiversityIsDeath

    So this is what they wanted, right? Fewer Whites applying to law school? Or are they complaining about it now?

    • Pro_Whitey

      Like young people and Obamacare, the law schools need the white kids and especially white males to pay the bills so they can give various minorities a relatively free ride.
      What goes unstated in the stats is the drop of white gentiles relative to white Jews. I think there has been a trend in undergraduate admissions at elite universities where white Christians, especially white protestants, have been largely frozen out and constitute a minority at the institutions their ancestors created. I wonder if the same applies here.

  • Spartacus

    “The only difference is that they are more willing to admit applicants with slightly lower test scores, which in practical terms at most schools means white applicants because they tend to do better on the LSAT due to socioeconomic factors.”


    Yeah, I’m sure it’s the “socioeconomic factors” …

    • bopberrigan

      I agree. That the reason for more white male & female applicants is due to “socioeconomic factors” is indeed a choke point.

  • MBlanc46

    The law is no longer a fairly sure path of a middle class professional way of life. Much of low level legal research has been automated. Paralegals do some of what lawyers used to do, and some work is outsourced to third world countries. Like in other fields, the middle is being squeezed out. Unless you’re a high flyer who can get into a top flight school, why waste tens of thousands of dollars on law school when you might wind up working at Wal-Mart?

  • negrolocaust

    A dangerous game known as the “Knockout game“,
    has now made it’s way down to Fort Meyers, Florida. Where a 15-year-old
    girl named Traveshia Blanks, has attacked more than just one eldery

    Traveshia Blanks, of Fort Myers, has been charged with two counts of
    battery on a person 65 years of age or older. Another victim, a
    72-year-old man told the news station he was weeding his garden Tuesday
    when he was kicked from behind. The victim fell to the ground and said
    he saw a woman walking away laughing, joining a group of people.

    According to NBC-2,
    Harry Hurvitz, 89, told deputies that someone rang his doorbell, and he
    looked and saw several well-dressed teens standing outside his door and
    one of them appeared to be holding a cell phone or camera.

    When he opened the door, one of the juveniles suddenly and without provocation slapped him in the face.

    “I stepped out to see what she was pointing to and there was another girl standing here and wammmmmm,” explained Hurvitz.

    Harry said he does not want to press charges but believes the girls
    need help. Pointing out that some elderly people only answer the door
    with a loaded weapon. Pointing out that it could be a deadly game of knockout if teens continue to play this game against the elderly..

  • MikeofAges

    That’s a good point. But so is the issue of having a livelihood. Some people go into the law just to make a living, not to make a huge mark on the world. How important is someone doing run-of-the-mill personal injury cases or disability claims for middle aged burnouts who get turned down for Social Security and SSI. I would say, not very. Not in their impact on society.

  • bopberrigan

    To pass, or not pass the bar exam is the question, unless that too is an affirmative action operation. Who knows??

    • Aditya Vivek Barot

      Not yet. The Cali bar won’t release data on race and bar exam success. Once disproportionate impact is (inevitably) established, the toughest bar exam in America will be watered down.

      Then, the only test of competence will be…..something else.

      • Greg Thomas

        You can count on that!

    • I was told once that most blacks fail to pass ever and end up in paper pusher roles at places like FannieMae and FreddieMac.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    ”Will the medical profession eventually experience a similar slide?”

    I’m guessing that people who go to medical school have actual, useful skills, so any slide will be much more gentle. Unlike lawyers, who are basically parasites.

    • dukem1

      The ACA has plenty in it to ensure the health-care professions become more “diverse.”

  • T_Losan

    just go to sh*tlawjobs dot com (seriously) for a glimpse of what current entry-level legal work is like.

  • odious liberal

    Is there a more useless profession?

    • texasoysterman

      Diversity Administrator at a university.
      Or anywhere else.

      • Part of the reason for the extensive “diversity” apparatus at universities and major corporations is that these entities are anxious to avoid being sued.

    • willbest

      Depends on what they are doing. If you facilitate trust between to businesses that wouldn’t otherwise do business and the result is more jobs/profit/economic activity you are hardly useless. Those facilitating the administration of justice are not useless.

      Those lawyers that are engaged in a) regulatory compliance, written by b) lawyers that wrote the regulations, on behalf of c) those lawyers lobbying for regulatation because d) lawyers informed CEOs that these regulations would hurt their competitors are not just useless, but destructive.

  • willbest

    The word is out on law school where the top 10% make a median salary of 170k, and the bottom 90% make 40k median salary (something like 1/3rd of the jobs being taken not even requiring a law degree for). Considering law school runs 100k now it is a horrible investment. Particularly for whites who don’t get racial preferences.

    All but the top 8-10 law schools are having to shrink class sizes in order to maintain selectivity, and even that isn’t enough. I suspect 20% of the law schools are going to need to go under in the long run.

    And within 5 years I suspect this trend will start working its way into colleges. Hell it has already started. Outside of elite schools the M/F ratio is 60%+ female.

    • A big percentage, if not a majority, of practicing lawyers make less in a year than the letter carrier that delivers mail to their house.

    • Aditya Vivek Barot

      If Obamacare turns into the NHS with an American flavour, then it’ll involve debt forgiveness and “consultant” privileges which will totally make it worthwhile.

      Until the Minority Occupied Gov’t decides there aren’t enough negroes/mestizos.

    • dd121

      I know quite a few lawyers. Quite aside from the money, lawyers uniformly hate working in the profession. It’s a soulless job that completely dehumanizes the practionisher.

  • Greg Thomas

    Relax folks. White law admissions are not down, but Whites rather have come to understand that checking the “White box” on that application is no longer in their best interest.

  • Greg Thomas

    That’s a simple fix. State bar exams will be watered down to meet the demands of their diversity applicants.

    • dd121

      They don’t need to fix the test. Anyone can read an essay answer and tell in ten seconds if it was written by a semi-literate bantu. Why lower the standards for whites when it’s so easy to lower the standards for bantus?

  • John K

    I am all for fewer lawyers, no matter the race. They are largely responsible for the decline of America. It doesn’t matter anymore, the courts and “justice system” make up the rules as they go. Blacks can murder people these days and never see the inside of a prison.

    Even the so-called hard line Conservatives are soft on crime. Congressman Ted Poe, when he was a judge roughly 10-15 years ago, headed a murder trial where a black paramedic shot and killed a repo man who was picking up his car. The car had been lifted and ready to haul off and the driver was in his truck ready to leave. This black vermin ran out and put a gun to the driver at point-blank range and shot him in the heart, killing him. Remember, this is a paramedic. His punishment? Probation, and he had to carry a picture of the repo man in his wallet, and put a bouquet of flowers on his grave once a year on the anniversary of the murder. Oh, yeah, Poe, you’re real tough on crime. Another spineless coward of a Republican who gives minorities a slap on the wrist. Maybe because the driver was white…

  • Bobbala

    2nd amendment can get you arrested these days, … unless your from the third world.

  • Carney3

    This is anecdotal evidence but I have two good friends who are attorneys and have NEVER had jobs commensurate with their qualifications and talents since passing the bar. They have heavy debt, brutal workloads, and neither owns a detached home.

  • Can you provide any help with getting work out there?
    Prefer not to live in a man camp …..

  • Emperor Naked

    As a doctor that retired “do” to the advent of managed care and its resulting conditions, I am telling you that you are wrong on two points; 1. The assumption that many doctors were NOT already forced out by Managed Care in the 90s. 2. “Obamacare” won’t have a similar affect because this is not a repetition of managed care but a change in how consumers access insurance.

    The advent of Obamacare It doesn’t presage a drop of income necessarily, although hopefully, medical scams will be cleaned up some. In those cases, some doctors going out of business is a GOOD thing. (There is a huge amount of scam practice going on. I think the sleep apnea field will soon be outed as mostly a scam for selling equipment (70% of people dx and sold cpap machines stop using them within one year). I know of so many medical scams over the years – I could really burn your ears off. In fact, between managed care and MY refusal to take part in any scam, even passively is one of the several reason why I gave up practice (managed care actually helped create the pressure to engage in scams because it often forced doctors to lie (fudge) in order to treat at all).

    Anyone truly concerned about the cost of healthcare should be looking at equipment manufacturers as well as the pharmaceutical industry. Then there is the really lousy system that this glut of attorneys that some mention here have generated. Tort reform is badly needed.

  • Emperor Naked

    Go live abroad for a while and you’ll find out how important it is!

    I did and even though the Eastern European country I was in had lawyers and courts, the way law is written and works can be surprising. Just look at the trial and retrials of Amanda Knox.

    If anything, Americans are overly conscious of what they think of as “their rights.” Many people, including many posters here make assumptions about their rights that just aren’t true. As a result, this country is the most litigious and litigiously wasteful by far.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    At the very best, lawyers are a necessary evil.

    And they are, fundamentally, parasites.