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Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:08 am
by silenttimer
I always thought it was a little off-putting when folks ask whether they are URM. To me at least, you should know whether or not you are URM just by living your life, as it is an mistakable experience. What are your thoughts?

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:14 am
by AJordan
I have a buddy, white, who went to an HBCU (not law) on a minority scholarship. It's all relative. Are disabled folks minorities? Transgender folks? Veterans? Vietnamese? People who grew up on government cheese? Considering most folks who ask don't know much about the URM criteria of law schools or the legal profession it seems, to me, a perfectly reasonable question to ask.


edit for clarification

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:31 am
by A. Nony Mouse
silenttimer wrote:I always thought it was a little off-putting when folks ask whether they are URM. To me at least, you should know whether or not you are URM just by living your life, as it is an mistakable experience. What are your thoughts?

I don't know that there's one specific experience that defines the category as understood by adcomms.

I get your point overall - I would word it more like if someone has never identified as a member of a particular group before law school, they probably shouldn't ask if they are a member of that group for admissions purposes - but URM means "underrepresented minority," meaning that the group is under represented in law schools compared to its representation in the general population. That's not always clear.

For instance, Asian Americans are a minority of the US population but not underrepresented in law schools. But someone who, say, is first-generation Hmong living in a crappy part of the Twin Cities is going to have had a very different life experience from, say, an UMC AA kid from Westchester. To be clear, I am *not* commenting on whether either should get a URM boost, and I am *not* saying that one or the other isn't "really" a URM because of their life experiences. My point is that URM is about identity, not life experience.

Diversity is a slightly different concept from URM for admissions purposes.

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:35 am
by silenttimer
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
silenttimer wrote:I always thought it was a little off-putting when folks ask whether they are URM. To me at least, you should know whether or not you are URM just by living your life, as it is an mistakable experience. What are your thoughts?

I don't know that there's one specific experience that defines the category as understood by adcomms.

I get your point overall - I would word it more like if someone has never identified as a member of a particular group before law school, they probably shouldn't ask if they are a member of that group for admissions purposes - but URM means "underrepresented minority," meaning that the group is under represented in law schools compared to its representation in the general population. That's not always clear.

For instance, Asian Americans are a minority of the US population but not underrepresented in law schools. But someone who, say, is first-generation Hmong living in a crappy part of the Twin Cities is going to have had a very different life experience from, say, an UMC AA kid from Westchester. To be clear, I am *not* commenting on whether either should get a URM boost, and I am *not* saying that one or the other isn't "really" a URM because of their life experiences. My point is that URM is about identity, not life experience.

Diversity is a slightly different concept from URM for admissions purposes.


Good point.

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:56 am
by grand inquisitor
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I get your point overall - I would word it more like if someone has never identified as a member of a particular group before law school, they probably shouldn't ask if they are a member of that group for admissions purposes

this is called "the warren rule"

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:57 am
by A. Nony Mouse
grand inquisitor wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I get your point overall - I would word it more like if someone has never identified as a member of a particular group before law school, they probably shouldn't ask if they are a member of that group for admissions purposes

this is called "the warren rule"

Good thing she wasn't applying to law school.

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:19 pm
by Rsanta7
It is more complicated than one would think. Like for Latino/as, only Mexican and Puerto Ricans are considered URM. But I don't really understand that? There are certain Latin American groups that do well on average than others (looking at education rates, home ownership, educational attainment), but even Latinos like Dominicans or Central Americans that have average or lower rates of these (& other factors) don't qualify as URM?

Re: Are you really URM if you have to ask the question?

Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:25 am
by AJordan
Rsanta7 wrote:It is more complicated than one would think. Like for Latino/as, only Mexican and Puerto Ricans are considered URM. But I don't really understand that? There are certain Latin American groups that do well on average than others (looking at education rates, home ownership, educational attainment), but even Latinos like Dominicans or Central Americans that have average or lower rates of these (& other factors) don't qualify as URM?


I'm not 100% on this but the understanding I have is that it's relative to the population of the country, not the relative economic position of each specific ethnic community, So, just throwing out numbers here, there may be 15% Mexican Americans in the country and only 5% represented in the law community but if there are .05% Salvadorans in the country and .07% in the law community they would then be considered to be "represented"

There also may be some threshold for statistical significance? That's a thing, right?

I THINK that's how this works. Not sure, though.

Like Nony said earlier, though, if someone is HMong for example, if that individual self-identifies and can center the application positively around it I think there's value in it as it shows ADCOMs something other than the "softs" that everyone thinks are "above average". I think people like this might be uniquely served by consulting as it seems like a particularly tricky situation with potentially polarized outcomes.