Deans Johnson, Amar Author Op-eds on Diversity and U.S. News Rankings
Dean Kevin R. Johnson and Associate Dean Vikram Amar co-authored a two-part commentary on "Why U.S. News and World Report Should Include a Diversity Index in its Ranking of Law Schools" that was published on FindLaw.com. Part one, which appeared on March 12, argues that a diverse student body contributes to a better learning environment for students, and therefore should be used in measuring the quality of a law school. Part two, published April 9, contends that the diversity of a law school faculty should also be factored into the U.S. News rankings.
As the best-known law school rating system, the U.S. News ranking has the most potential to impact the behavior of law schools, yet the methodology the magazine uses can negatively impact the schools and the legal profession by deterring schools from taking steps to increase diversity, the first commentary states.
The article refers to a recent paper by sociology professors Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder, published in the Review of Law and Social Justice, which argues that rewarding schools for boosting their median LSAT and GPA numbers and reducing the percentage of applicants they accept discourages schools from admitting applicants from underrepresented groups. In response to the article, Bob Morse, U.S. News's point person for law school ratings, has expressed openness to incorporating a "diversity index" into the ratings methodology as a corrective.
Pointing out the importance of diversity to the quality of students' educational experience, Dean Johnson and Associate Dean Amar support the inclusion of a diversity index.
"Diversity is relevant because - as the Supreme Court has recognized and proclaimed in recent years - a diverse school provides a richer learning environment for its students, who will then be better prepared, going forward, to enter and succeed in the realm of diversity that is the entire United States and the world," they write.
Regarding faculty diversity, the authors note that despite increased representation of racial minorities among law students, women comprise only 37 percent and racial minorities only 16 percent of full-time law teachers. The authors assert that diverse law school faculties better prepare students to practice law in a world with diverse clients and lawyers. Diverse faculties also have value as role models and contribute valuable new perspective in approaching complex legal problems, they write.
The pair of essays was published on FindLaw.com, a leading provider of online legal information and commentary, where Associate Dean Amar is a regular columnist.
"Why U.S. News and World Report Should Include a Diversity Index in its Ranking of Law Schools" (Part one)
"Why U.S. News and World Report Should Include a Diversity Index in its Ranking of Law Schools" (Part two)