Decline in African American Law School Enrollment

According to a recent report released by the American Bar Association, black student enrollment in law school has dropped to a 12-year low. The report, Miles to Go: Progress of Minorities in the Legal Profession, takes a look at information from different government, professional and academic sources and shows the differences amongst various racial and ethnic groups in the law field.

For the past two years, the number of blacks enrolling in law school has been the lowest its been since 1993, 6.6 percent which is down from 7.4 percent. While African Americans make up 3.9 percent of all lawyers, Hispanics and Asian Americans entering the legal profession exceed that amount.

Charles C. Neal, a second year law student at the University of Pittsburgh, believe the already low numbers may be deterring others from enrolling.

“It’s an intimidation factor, since blacks are already not there in large numbers, you may feel that it’s not the place for you. Also a lack of interest in the law overall, some people feel the law is unjust or unfair, so why even attempt to be a lawyer?”

Kia Franklin, a first year law student at Georgetown University, has similar views about the low numbers.

“The representation is okay, but in my section there are 15 black students out of 100, and only four of them are men," says Franklin. "So I think a lot of people are actually getting caught up in the system as opposed to being a part of it, and even more are just trying to work. The law has a reputation and people may feel like they can’t change things so why not be an engineer or something else, but not a lawyer."

Raising prices for many law schools is also a factor for some students. On average, most law schools raise tuition each year by sometimes as much as 10 percent. Most law schools only accept a small amount of students each year, so many black students feel discouraged from even applying.

Since the numbers are so low, Franklin feels that it is almost her duty to use her degree in a way that will be beneficial to others.

“I’m uncertain what I’m going to do right now, but I am confident that I will use my law degree to be a resource to my people. I have to use my degree to benefit the community.”