## Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers Forum

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Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Hello, everyone. AA Male, frequent lurker, infrequent poster and law school hopeful here. I’ve been interested in the nature of URM admissions and, given my desire to add some clarity to the whole process, I decided to crunch some numbers. In this particular case, I decided to focus on Blacks and the admission process by analyzing LSAT scores and enrollment numbers at top law schools. This will be fairly long, but my hope is that this analysis will be able to help some hopefuls get a better idea of where they stand with the schools they’d like to attend than LSN (which, let’s be honest, is useful though limited by sample sizes) can give us. I’m hoping that a discussion within this thread will aid in making this even more helpful by plugging holes in my analysis and making more suggestions for further clarity. I’ll present all of the underlying components of my thesis in order.

First, let’s discuss the key factor that this theory relies on, and that is the normally distributed sample. It seems to be generally agreed that LSAT scores follow a normal distribution. Here, I have narrowed that pool of scores to focus specifically on black test takers, and applied the principles of the normal distribution to that group alone.

The standard deviation is the second key here, as it will allow us to determine how many people fall into individual sections within that normally distributed sample. Here’s a graph showing some of the percentages:

Third, we need to get an idea of the goal in sight. For most applicants, that goal is a Top 14 school, so it would be useful to see how many blacks these schools take in a year. I’ll provide that info now, courtesy of the ABA.

Number of AA first-years (most recent data):
Harvard: 53
Yale: 13
Stanford: 15
Columbia: 37
Chicago: 13
NYU: 27
UC Berkeley: 19
Penn: 19
UVA: 27
Michigan: 13
Duke: 17
Northwestern: 15
Georgetown: 50
Cornell: 13
Total for Top 14: 331
UCLA: 7
UT-Austin: 17
Vanderbilt: 16

The most recent data suggest approximately 331 spots for AA’s within the Top 14. If you include the next best three schools (the “Top 16”, according to the 2012 USN rankings-there’s a tie for #16), then we get 371 spots for top AA test-takers.

EDIT: This isn't the entire story. We know that 371 AA's were at these schools for this cycle, but this only counts the number enrolled. It is likely that more were accepted to this group of schools and did not attend for whatever reason, though exactly how many is difficult to pin down. This dynamic is articulated well in a response later in the thread:
http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 5#p6297722

I'm going to run with the 331 and 371 numbers (which, again, only represent the students who were accepted to and chose to attend this group of schools) but just keep this in mind.

Now for some number crunching with the standard deviations. For this, I went to LSAC and downloaded their LSAT performance summary, which contains yearly test-taker performance data separated by gender, ethnicity and region. You can download the full report at the bottom of this page.

I’ll be using the data for African-Americans from the 2009-10 testing years. The key numbers are as follows:
Total number of test-takers: 14,585
Mean score: 142.04
Standard Deviation: 8.74
1SD Above Mean: 150.78 (151)
2 SD Above Mean: 159.52 (160)
2.5SD Above Mean: 163.89(164)
3 SD Above Mean: 168.26 (168)
Now with this data in hand, we can use this standard deviation curve (LinkRemoved) to get an idea of approximately how many AA test takers (what percentage, roughly) fall at or above each of the standard deviation milestones I listed above.

Number of Black Test Takers At or Above 2SD (159.5): 335.455 (335-336)
At or Above 2.5SD (164): 87.51 (87-88)
At or above 3SD (168): 14.585 (14-15)

Before any conclusions are made, it is important to note a couple of major caveats.
Firstly, numbers vary by year. 14,584 blacks took the test in 2009-10. This number could shift a little year by year (it was 13,205 in 2007-08), as can the mean and standard deviation. Granted, these shifts won’t really make much of a difference, particularly at the high ends of the scoring spectrum (2SD and above) we’re focusing on, but they should be noted anyway.

Secondly, your GPA is obviously quite important, and could in theory enhance your competitiveness to an extent even greater than your score would predict (even, in theory, if that score is south of 160). The most recent data I could find on the mean UGPA for black applicants was from Fall 2008, when it was a 2.96. This figure had been increasing in years past, though that increase seems to have leveled off.

If you’ve got a GPA north of 3.0, you should help yourself out quite a bit here by narrowing your competition within your scoring range (and possibly allowing yourself to compete more evenly with higher scoring “splitters” who have better LSATs but lower GPA’s). When you look at the number of AA’s scoring in the ranges I’ve indicated above, you should expect that the number who manage to do so with an above average (3.0+) GPA is probably even smaller.

Finally, my analysis doesn’t account for folks who take the test and don’t go to law school, among other anomalies. The pool of test takers who are seriously going for law school may be smaller than I’ve assumed for a host of reasons, though there’s no way to find out exactly how much smaller. This is the best I could come up with.

Alright, so onto some conclusions:

1. A 159 should, in theory, put you approximately near the top 360 or so among black test takers (about 2 full Standard Deviations above the mean), and a 160 should put you more comfortably and confidently within that range. The T-14 will accept approximately 331 AA’s in a given year, so you’ll contend with these scores, maybe some money. If the “next three” (Vandy, UCLA, UT-Austin) are also on your list, you should be in an even better shot at getting an acceptance. Overall, this isn’t a bad place to be. If you’re an AA law school hopeful who wants a T-14, I’d recommend a 160 as the minimum standard to shoot for assuming an average (or better) GPA.

2. A 164 will put you 2.5 SDs above the mean, a level that only approximately 90 AA’s should reach annually (88 or so did this in 2009-10), assuming a normally distributed sample. You should be very well placed for a shot at the top 14 with a score like this. A glance at my enrollment numbers above will also show that the holy trinity at the top (HYS) accepted 81 black applicants most recently. This indicates that a 164 may (depending on your GPA) give you an outside shot at contending for HYS, and should certainly put you in T6 contention.

Going further, I do not have exact approximations for where scores in between 2 and 2.5SDs (161-163) would put you, but it could probably be safely inferred that there aren’t many more than 130-160 AA’s at or above 162/163. A 163 might make shooting for HYS less realistic barring an above average GPA, but it should give you a shot at a T6 and should certainly set you up for a T-14 acceptance somewhere (perhaps with some good money). A 165/166 should place you firmly in HYS contention, again depending on where the GPA is.

3. A 168 will put you 3SDs above the mean, a level that less than 20 AA test takers (around 1-1000, to be more precise-only 15 or so likely pulled this off in 2009-10) will reach annually in a normally distributed sample. HYS is probably a given here barring a very poor GPA, and one should probably expect plenty of money.

And that’s all. Thanks for taking the time to read if you did, and I hope this is useful to any visitors here. It is all just theoretical, no absolutes here, but hopefully it can be useful to someone.
Last edited by Athlone McGinnis on Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Manhattanman

Posts: 181
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:16 am

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Hey add a poll to this thread. With different LSAT GPA combos.
For example...
165+ 3.0-3.5
165+ 3.5+
160+ 3.0-3.5
160+ 3.5+
170+ 3.0-3.5

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Manhattanman wrote:Hey add a poll to this thread. With different LSAT GPA combos.
For example...
165+ 3.0-3.5
165+ 3.5+
160+ 3.0-3.5
160+ 3.5+
170+ 3.0-3.5
Why? Just curious.

Manhattanman

Posts: 181
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:16 am

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

It would give those who browse the forum an idea of where they stand compared to other tls'ers. Wouldn't be a representative sample, but information never hurt. Another poster requested the poll in a different thread. Up to you, though. If that poll would go anywhere, I think this is the most appropriate place. Thanks for the info btw. It was encouraging- to say the least.

Manhattanman

Posts: 181
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:16 am

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Also, with the decrease in number of students actually taking the LSAT, and the fact that there are less people scoring in the higher ranges (or a decrease in those who are scoring higher applying); these conditions might make for a reverse perfect storm for applicants this cycle. I have read an article that cited these factors, and stated that all applicants may want to reach a little higher this year. I'm curious to what, if any, is the percentage of decrease w minority applications.

Phlash58

Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:17 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Assuming these numbers are accurate, I might have missed your cites, this information is concise for the amount of information put forth and very interesting. Nice work.

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Phlash58 wrote:Assuming these numbers are accurate, I might have missed your cites, this information is concise for the amount of information put forth and very interesting. Nice work.
Thanks. I assume with some confidence that it is fairly close, given the normal distribution of LSAT scores. That makes predicting them with some accuracy much more viable.
Manhattanman wrote:Also, with the decrease in number of students actually taking the LSAT, and the fact that there are less people scoring in the higher ranges (or a decrease in those who are scoring higher applying); these conditions might make for a reverse perfect storm for applicants this cycle. I have read an article that cited these factors, and stated that all applicants may want to reach a little higher this year. I'm curious to what, if any, is the percentage of decrease w minority applications.
That'd be interesting. I've seen the overall percentages and I know the decrease has come most acutely among the high scorers, but it remains to be seen exactly who (gender/ethnicity) those high scorers are and how the percentage declines within that group vary depending on who they are.
Regardless, it should help the current test-takers out. I'm hoping the decline either continues or the numbers stay as-is for next cycle, when I'll be applying. We'll see, I guess.

Noluck123

Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:32 am

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Athlone McGinnis wrote: If you’ve got a GPA north of 3.0, you should help yourself out quite a bit here by narrowing your competition within your scoring range (and possibly allowing yourself to compete more evenly with higher scoring “splitters” who have better LSATs but lower GPA’s). When you look at the number of AA’s scoring in the ranges I’ve indicated above, you should expect that the number who manage to do so with an above average (3.0+) GPA is probably even smaller.

[...]

3. A 168 will put you 3SDs above the mean, a level that less than 20 AA test takers (around 1-1000, to be more precise-only 15 or so likely pulled this off in 2009-10) will reach annually in a normally distributed sample. HYS is probably a given here barring a very poor GPA, and one should probably expect plenty of money.

I wish it really was a given, because my numbers put me in your stated HYS range. However, there are quite a few AA males with my numbers who have been dinged at HYS.

Obviously URMs are on a sliding scale. The lower your GPA, the higher the LSAT you need to compensate. I just wanted to point out that the 3.0 part of your post is probably better advice for CCN down. I think 3.7+ is more appropriate for "narrowing your competition" when you're talking about HYS.

quicustodiet

Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:01 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Removed
Last edited by quicustodiet on Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

quicustodiet wrote:Is there any sort of data like this for NA applicants? Any thoughts on how it may differ? I'm new to all this..Thanks!

Yes, there is some data for NA applicants. I obviously haven't done the full analysis but essentially the means for NA's are moderately higher (142 for AAs vs. 148 for NAs) and you've got a pool of test takers that numbers less than 1000.

If I had to make an estimation, I'd say that if the usual floor for AA's looking for T-14 is around 160, NA's might need 2-4 more points. That should be the range, though I couldn't be more precise without giving them a full analysis using the methods above. A quick glance at their stats and application of the standard deviation percentages I applied above tells me that there should only be around 10-12 NA test takers at or above 170 annually. I'm not sure how many NA's make the T-14 annually though.
You can check the report at the bottom of this page to give yourself an idea of the score distributions for NA test takers.
http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/resea ... -10-03.asp

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Noluck123 wrote: I wish it really was a given, because my numbers put me in your stated HYS range. However, there are quite a few AA males with my numbers who have been dinged at HYS.

Obviously URMs are on a sliding scale. The lower your GPA, the higher the LSAT you need to compensate. I just wanted to point out that the 3.0 part of your post is probably better advice for CCN down. I think 3.7+ is more appropriate for "narrowing your competition" when you're talking about HYS.
Sounds like a fair critique. If HYS weigh GPA so heavily, then the higher LSAT may count for less with a sub-3.7 GPA, putting you on more even keel with lower LSAT scorers with higher GPAs who could leapfrog you.
Regardless, if you can pull a 168 you're in rarefied air. HYS may not be a given since they're among the elite few who can afford to be extra picky even with URMs, but the rest of the T-14 should be your oyster.

michlaw

Posts: 191
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:49 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

If you examine the details on the LSAC site for 2009-10 only 634 self identified native Americans took the lsat that year. One of the apparent oddities is that although the mean is 146.89 about 4 higher than African Americans the charts show that none of the native American test takers scored higher than 166, it seems (page 29 page 34 of the LSAT Performance with Regional, Gender, and Racial/Ethnic Breakdowns: 2003–2004 Through 2009–2010 Testing Years (TR 10-03) http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/resea ... -10-03.pdf. Maybe due to the small sample size, or the graphs are wrong, or I can't read them right. For the lastest year of law school data stats on lsac there were 17 native 1L's at the T14.

Percival Jenkins

Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:07 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/ ... eckdam.pdf

If you check out the amicus brief that LSAC filed with the Supreme Court for the Fisher case, from the 09-10 cycle, only 63 blacks had a 3.5 and 165 or better. Pretty interesting.

BlaqBella

Posts: 868
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:41 am

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Subscribed. Thanks for this informative thread, OP.

BlaqBella

Posts: 868
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:41 am

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

nick1 wrote:http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/ ... eckdam.pdf

If you check out the amicus brief that LSAC filed with the Supreme Court for the Fisher case, from the 09-10 cycle, only 63 blacks had a 3.5 and 165 or better. Pretty interesting.
Oh wow. Even more reason for me to study my butt off for the LSATs.

ben4847

Posts: 788
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:38 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Wow, if you can write that up, I say you deserve a spot in T14. I haven't a clue what that all means.

Alltheirsplendor

Posts: 117
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:06 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Wormfather wrote:
BlaqBella wrote:
nick1 wrote:http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/ ... eckdam.pdf

If you check out the amicus brief that LSAC filed with the Supreme Court for the Fisher case, from the 09-10 cycle, only 63 blacks had a 3.5 and 165 or better. Pretty interesting.
Oh wow. Even more reason for me to study my butt off for the LSATs.
So in other words if I earned a 165 last Saturday to go with my 3.91, HYS should almost definitely be in play?
Yes, bud. Haven't people--including me--been telling you that?

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Wormfather wrote:
BlaqBella wrote:
nick1 wrote:http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/ ... eckdam.pdf

If you check out the amicus brief that LSAC filed with the Supreme Court for the Fisher case, from the 09-10 cycle, only 63 blacks had a 3.5 and 165 or better. Pretty interesting.
Oh wow. Even more reason for me to study my butt off for the LSATs.
So in other words if I earned a 165 last Saturday to go with my 3.91, HYS should almost definitely be in play?
Your GPA could be a 3.5 and you'd probably still be in contention with that 165. With a 3.91, I'd say at least one of those three ought to happen.

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

ben4847 wrote:Wow, if you can write that up, I say you deserve a spot in T14. I haven't a clue what that all means.
BlaqBella wrote:Subscribed. Thanks for this informative thread, OP.
Thanks for the feedback, guys.

Betharl

Posts: 235
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:48 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Athlone McGinnis wrote: First, let’s discuss the key factor that this theory relies on, and that is the normally distributed sample. It seems to be generally agreed that LSAT scores follow a normal distribution. Here, I have narrowed that pool of scores to focus specifically on black test takers, and applied the principles of the normal distribution to that group alone.
LSAT scores are normally distributed, but you are still taking a subset (AA test takers) of that population (all test takers) and assuming their scores will also be normally distributed. I'm not sure you can do that. It seems like the distribution of AA test takers could be skewed to the right as a certain small number of AAs (outliers) had much better educational opportunities etc than others. This gap doesn't exist to the same degree when looking at the population of all test takers. In other words, the distribution of educational opportunities and other things that correlate with LSAT scores is more evenly distributed among the entire population than the AA or URM subset of that population.

Or I could be wrong, it’s been a while since I’ve had stats. Even if I’m right, I’m sure your results are still fairly accurate, there may just be a few more high scorers than what you’re coming up with. Or, you could run the results again (I think) with another distribution that accounts for right-tailed skew.

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Betharl wrote:
Athlone McGinnis wrote: First, let’s discuss the key factor that this theory relies on, and that is the normally distributed sample. It seems to be generally agreed that LSAT scores follow a normal distribution. Here, I have narrowed that pool of scores to focus specifically on black test takers, and applied the principles of the normal distribution to that group alone.
LSAT scores are normally distributed, but you are still taking a subset (AA test takers) of that population (all test takers) and assuming their scores will also be normally distributed. I'm not sure you can do that. It seems like the distribution of AA test takers could be skewed to the right as a certain small number of AAs (outliers) had much better educational opportunities etc than others. This gap doesn't exist to the same degree when looking at the population of all test takers. In other words, the distribution of educational opportunities and other things that correlate with LSAT scores is more evenly distributed among the entire population than the AA or URM subset of that population.

Or I could be wrong, it’s been a while since I’ve had stats. Even if I’m right, I’m sure your results are still fairly accurate, there may just be a few more high scorers than what you’re coming up with. Or, you could run the results again (I think) with another distribution that accounts for right-tailed skew.
Yeah, your critique here seems like it could be plausible, but I'm not sure how to confirm it. Either way, thanks for bringing it up-this is a possibility everyone should keep in mind when considering my original post and its numbers.

Percival Jenkins

Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:07 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Athlone McGinnis wrote:
Betharl wrote:
Athlone McGinnis wrote: First, let’s discuss the key factor that this theory relies on, and that is the normally distributed sample. It seems to be generally agreed that LSAT scores follow a normal distribution. Here, I have narrowed that pool of scores to focus specifically on black test takers, and applied the principles of the normal distribution to that group alone.
LSAT scores are normally distributed, but you are still taking a subset (AA test takers) of that population (all test takers) and assuming their scores will also be normally distributed. I'm not sure you can do that. It seems like the distribution of AA test takers could be skewed to the right as a certain small number of AAs (outliers) had much better educational opportunities etc than others. This gap doesn't exist to the same degree when looking at the population of all test takers. In other words, the distribution of educational opportunities and other things that correlate with LSAT scores is more evenly distributed among the entire population than the AA or URM subset of that population.

Or I could be wrong, it’s been a while since I’ve had stats. Even if I’m right, I’m sure your results are still fairly accurate, there may just be a few more high scorers than what you’re coming up with. Or, you could run the results again (I think) with another distribution that accounts for right-tailed skew.
Yeah, your critique here seems like it could be plausible, but I'm not sure how to confirm it. Either way, thanks for bringing it up-this is a possibility everyone should keep in mind when considering my original post and its numbers.
http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/resea ... -10-03.pdf

So the numbers are essentially accurate, but if you look at page 23 from this report they have done exactly what you have done. It seems as though the numbers are essentially equally distributed but not really. But it seems as though scoring a 160 puts you in the 1% of all black test takers, based on the 09-10 cycle numbers.

For black females (pg. 29) a 160 will put you in less than 1% percent of female test takers (9256). But there are double the number of female takers than there were males.
For black males (pg. 34) a 160 puts you right at 1% of about 4895 test takers. Probably explains why they get a bigger boost.

Athlone McGinnis

Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:09 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

nick1 wrote:
For black females (pg. 29) a 160 will put you in less than 1% percent of female test takers (9256). But there are double the number of female takers than there were males.
For black males (pg. 34) a 160 puts you right at 1% of about 4895 test takers. Probably explains why they get a bigger boost.
That's a key that often gets left out of the "race and admissions" discussion. The motivation for it is as practical as it is ideological/historical. Often the boost is as much a result of a raw supply vs. demand dynamic as anything else.

20121109

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### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Thank you for this wonderful addition to the forum, OP.

Good work <3

shoe_gasm

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Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:06 pm

### Re: Blacks and Law School: By The Numbers

Thanks for this. I really appreciate it