US study finds largest law school scholarships awarded to white students

White students were awarded 70 percent of the full-tuition scholarships given by law schools

US study finds largest law school scholarships awarded to white students

A new report from the American Bar Association (ABA) revealed that white law students are more likely to receive full scholarships than their non-white peers.

The data shows that white students were awarded 70 percent of the full-tuition scholarships given by law schools this year, despite making up about 61 percent of the national pool of full-time law students. In contrast, students of colour, who comprise nearly 32 percent of full-time law students, received fewer than 23 percent of full-tuition scholarships.

This is the first year the ABA has collected and reported data on law school scholarships broken down by race. Previous research has highlighted racial disparities in scholarship distribution, raising concerns that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are subsidizing the tuition of wealthier classmates.

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Aaron Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, emphasized the need for law schools to evaluate their scholarship awarding practices. "The data should prompt law schools to assess their scholarship awarding practices to ensure that they are defensible and rooted in equity," Taylor said in a statement.

The ABA's findings revealed significant disparities among different racial groups. Hispanic law students received 9 percent of full-tuition scholarships but represent nearly 13 percent of the national student pool. Black students, who comprise more than 7 percent of all law students, received just 5.5 percent of full scholarships. Asian students, who have comparable median Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores to white students, are significantly less likely to receive full-tuition scholarships. Despite being 7 percent of the law student population, they received only about 3 percent of full-tuition scholarships.

Taylor pointed out that relying on LSAT scores is a primary driver of these disparities. A 2019 study found the average score for Black LSAT takers was 142, compared to 153 for white and Asian test takers. "The typical white student was more than twice as likely to receive a full scholarship than the typical Asian student," Taylor said.

The data also show that students of colour are awarded nearly 34 percent of scholarships worth less than half tuition, a greater share than their white counterparts based on their proportions of the national student pool.  The ABA's report calls for a critical examination of scholarship practices to address and rectify these disparities.

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