The legal profession is among the least diverse in the United States. Given continuing issues of systemic racism, the central position that the justice system occupies in society, and the vital role that lawyers play in that system, it is incumbent upon legal professionals to identify and remedy the causes of this lack of diversity. This Article seeks to understand how the bar examination—the final hurdle to entering the profession— contributes to this dearth of diversity. Using publicly available data, we analyze whether the ethnic makeup of a law school’s entering class correlates to the school’s first-time bar passage rates on the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). We find that higher proportions of Black and Hispanic students in a law school’s entering class are associated with lower first-time bar passage rates for that school in its reported UBE jurisdictions three years later. This effect persists after controlling for other potentially causal factors like undergraduate grade-point average (UGPA), law school admission test (LSAT) score, geographic region, or law school tier. Moreover, the results are statistically robust at a p-value of 0.01 (indicating just a 1% chance that the results are due to random variation in the data). Because these are school-level results, they may not fully account for relevant factors identifiable only in student-level data. As a result, we argue that follow-up study using data relating to individual students is necessary to fully understand why the UBE produces racially and ethnically disparate results.
Scott Devito, Kelsey Hample & Erin Lain,
Examining the Bar Exam: An Empirical Analysis of Racial Bias in the Uniform Bar Examination,
U. Mich. J. L. Reform
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/vol55/iss3/3