White Flight and Law School- Because a Career is a Ghetto


Matt Leichter, recently published an article on American Lawyer, describing the "white flight" happening in American Law Schools.  What a wonderful crock of sensation! For perspective on this article's possible reach, there are about 239,000 unique visitors a month. That's not the same as Above the Law's 850,000- but nothing too paltry either. It means, people have read this article. Not tons, but definitely more than 5000 times more the people reading this post.*  This article's problems lies with how Leichter categorizes the diminishing white presence in law schools- if that's even truly the case. Because I do not have time, I'll buy his stats wholesale, if we can debunk his interpretation just a bit.


The traditional career of the lawyer has been in somewhat of a tailspin for the past few years. News article after news article describes the shrinking job market, and in turn the shrinking  enrollment numbers. It makes sense to see some sort of decline in numbers. It may even make sense to think that the degree is so popular now, that it doesn't have the allure it once did.  But, it does not make sense to write silly little articles playing on historical terminology and racial fears.

The term white flight, is so loaded and carries so many sociological and historical connotations that it is simply rude  to apply the term to  the legal profession and academia. The idea of white flight in law schools suggests that whites are shifting careers because of a lack of desire to work with people of other races. It is insulting to anyone in the profession to suggest that people are so unwilling to work together, that they would sacrifice a career. These are the very people that society counts on to maintain the legal aspect of equality amongst races.    If this were indeed the case, whites would have stopped being lawyers since the American Bar Association became more diversified in the 1960s.  Even if that was logical reasoning for someone's choice of elite career, at the most base level, that seems like more of an argument for medicine, which has stereotypically become the purview of immigrants. Additionally the idea of white flight also carries the idea that the profession is now becoming "bad" as if some rapid "ghettoization" of the profession has taken place. This may have taken place in more blue collar fields, where unions that once kept segregation alive now had no choice, but is less likely to be the case in the pristine world of the law. 

Additionally, it's just an attack on minorities to follow up the statistics concerning the decreasing white statistics with the fact that minorities are getting in with lower scores. What most people would laud as an increase in diversity and perspective on the law field, is now some different form of affirmative action so that law schools can keep their bankroll going. It takes no consideration of the actual merits of minorities who have studied hard in undergrad and prepared for the LSAT.

Unfortunately, Leichter has a larger point about the decline of law school enrollment, but cannot seem to get a great pivot and entry into his story which (as shown above) has been told countless times. His desire to use race as the gimmick did in fact sucker me in, but just made me more upset  at the fact that anyone thought this was okay.  It is never alright to predicate a minority member's achievement on the whims and fancies of white desire. Your new found attack on affirmative action, is not convincing. Minority numbers are proportionally increasing in spite of an economic downturn that should hinder achievement, not because of a field's bastardization.


*Oh, you can tell I interned at an Advertising Magazine once. Yea, ain't no thang. 

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