The Youth Law Academy: Bolstering the Educational Pipeline for Legal Diversity
RAYMUNDO JACQUEZ III
Creating and maintaining an inclusive bar that adequately reflects the population of California is an ongoing challenge for the legal profession. Several proposals aimed at alleviating the existing lack of diversity have been offered, from reevaluating the bar exam cut score to lowering law school tuition and creating diversity recruitment programs within firms or other legal settings. To make a significant dent in the diversity crisis, the profession needs to explore each of these options and take specific steps to bolster, in various practice settings, the inclusion of attorneys from underrepresented groups.
Law firm diversity programs tend to focus on recruiting or cultivating diverse talent in law schools. A problem with this approach is that law schools, especially those with higher rankings, tend to lack diversity when it comes to underrepresented minorities such as Black and Latino students. If you ask the deans of those law schools about that lack of diversity, they might say it is because a less-than-proportional number of applicants of color apply from competitive undergraduate institutions. If this is so, improving access to the legal profession requires moving down the education pipeline to help prepare younger students for college acceptance and to introduce the idea of eventually applying to law school.