Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Law Professor Wins Case For Release Of Bar Exam Data

A battle that seems to have lasted the past decade will continue well into the next one.  in 2004, UCLA Law Professor Richard Sander published a controversial article in the Stanford Law Review surmising that affirmative action was harmful to minority law school applicants.  Based upon the data he reviewed at the time, he concluded that minority students would be best served by eliminating preferential admission standards.  His findings were criticized as being both not substantiated by adequate data collection and problematic to the growth of minority lawyers in a post-civil rights era.  

In order to get the vast data necessary to support his hypothesis, in 2008 Professor Sander requested data from the California State Bar, which has data on race, passing statistics, and law school grade averages of the approximate 15,000 annual exam takers.  When the bar association refused to release the records, a lawsuit followed.

On December 19, 2013, the California Supreme Court ruled that the records must be released as long as the identity of the examinees remains confidential.  It seems that Professor Sander has agreed to cover the costs associated with redacting names.

Affirmative action continues to be a hotly contested issue.  It is hard to say whether the release of this data will be a good or bad thing for the future growth and development of minority lawyers.  What it will do is provide Professor Sander, and I assume others with this topic on their scholarly agenda, with much greater data to analyze.  I am certain we will see an updated article from him on the topic in the coming years.  The interesting thing about affirmative action is that we will never know whether it is still needed until it no longer exists.  The problem:  if affirmative action is ended and we later find that it was essential and is still necessary, what is the probability of affirmative action being reinstated?  Highly unlikely.

Hat tip to ABA Journal.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/appellate_advocacy/2013/12/law-professor-wins-case-for-release-of-bar-exam-data.html

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