Diversity and Law school

The word diversity is popular these days. You have diverse companies, diverse working environment, diverse universities, and diverse law schools. I can’t really speak for those places that I have never been to, but I can talk about diversity and law school. Of course, talking about diversity and law school, one cannot avoid the affirmative action suit against University of Michigan Law School: Grutter v. Bollinger. In that case, the US Supreme Court held that the law school’s use of race in admission, which seeks to create diversity in the law school, is not prohibited by equal protection clause. After that case, diversity is like a wild fire burning in most of the schools I researched when I was applying for law school. 

But that case is not really relevant to my topic today, because that case is about affirmative action in admission, in which one can argue that affirmative action is justified since the minorities of this country lack equal resources to let them go to law school as easy as the while majority does. My topic is about what would happen AFTER a law school achieves diversity on the face. Does that somehow significantly change how the school works? Sadly no.

In my humble opinion, law school might not be the last place that requires diversity, but it definitely can live happily without diversity. Most of the classes offered in law school does not require any diverse background. On the contrary, for the exams of most of the classes, there are only one correct answer or one correct legal analysis. Well, at least you have to use the analysis laid out in the United States jurisdiction. Answers like “in the country where I am from, this case is likely to be ruled in this way” might only give you some extra credit provided you answer the question right using the analysis taught in class and held in US courts. Of course, in some classes that involve international issue, diverse background would play a more significant part. But those classes, among the whole law school curriculum, is only a tiny part. 

A more important question is whether race really play a big part in creating diversity. In my opinion, it only works when the sole diversity one cares is statistics, which is, sadly, the main point that a school cares about: it will help its US News ranking with a higher rate of diversity. However, it is not surprising to see those second generation of, say, Chinese immigrants who cannot even identify an upside down Chinese character. For those people, what do they bring to the goal of diversity apart from their skin color? And how can a school justify using their skin color to achieve its goal of diversity? I often get those emails from the school for some “diversity” event. I never attended because I figured the only contribution I can make is to show my none white face. Let’s face it, for the most part, law school is very job oriented. And the majority of the jobs do not require a different background. Even for firms that claim that they have a diverse team, the use of diversity is no more different from the one in law school. It’s a funny endless loop. After all, for the most part, “diverse” people can be said to have successfully played their role as long as they don’t go through any cosmetic surgery like what Michael Jackson did to himself.

Just this week, my law school launched a new website. The first picture I saw on this new site was one with three students in it: a white male, an Asian male, and a female Latino. What can I say? All hail diversity!


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