1995.Winter – Albert Y. Muratsuchi, Race, Class, and UCLA School of Law Admissions, 1967-1994 (Chicano-Latino Law Review)

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CHICANO-LATINO

LAW REVIEW

ARTICLES

ENVIRONMENTAL EQUITY: THE NEXT

GENERATION OF FACILITY

SITING PROGRAMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rodolfo Mara

DETERMINING THE LEGITIMACY OF

SPANISH LAND GRANTS IN COLORADO:

CoNFLICTING VALUES, LEGAL

PLURALISM, AND DEMYSTlFICATION OF

THE SANGRE DE CRISToiRAEL CAsE . ………. Richard D. Garcia

and Todd Howland

COMMENTS

Is PosTSECONDARY EDUCATION A FuNDAMENTAL

RIGHT? APPLYING SERRANO v. PR/ESTTO

LET/CIA “A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lucila Rosas

~CE, CLASS, AND UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW

ADMISSIONS, 1967-1994 …………………. AlbertY. Muratsuchi

THE TIERRA AMARILLA GRANT, REIES TIJERINA,

AND THE COURTHOUSE RAID ………………… Robert V. Urias

Volume Sixteen Winter 1995

UCLA School of Law

TO OUR READERS:

The Latino community has changed dramatically in the

twenty-one years since the first issue of the Chicano-Latino Law

Review was published in 1972. While conscious that the Review

arose out of the Chicano movement of the late 1960s and early

1970s, the scope of the Review has expanded since then to address

issues affecting the broader Latino community, including

an examination of the cultural, political and economic interaction

of the United States and Latin America.

The primary goal of the Chicana-Latino Law Review is to

provide scholarly and critical analysis of various legal questions

and topics as they might or do affect our growing and changing

community. Thus, a diverse pool of perspectives and insights as

presented by professors of law, students of law, judges, scholars

of nonlegal subjects, and attorneys are variably selected for publication.

In this way, the Review attempts to fulfill an obligation

of service to the national community while maintaining high standards

of scholarly integrity and objectivity.

RACE, CLASS, AND UCLA SCHOOL OF

LAW ADMISSIONS, 1967-1994

I. INTRODUCilON

In 1967, the UCLA School of Law (UCLA) was one of a

small group of law schools that implemented an affirmative action

program designed to give socioeconomically disadvantaged

studentS of color a state-subsidized legal education. Since the

late 1960s, affirmative action has become increasingly controversial,

and UCLA has continued to be one of the leading law

schools in promoting racial diversity in the legal profession.

However, the school’s affirmative action program, subject to institutional

politics as well as legal and political developments at

large, has significantly compromised its early efforts to recruit

and admit more students from low-income backgrounds. ·

This comment argues that the UCLA School of Law admissions

program reflects a fundamental tension between the institution’s

aspiration to join the ranks of the nation’s elite law schools

and its obligation as a public institution to educate and serve

socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. While UCLA

strives to achieve recognition as a top-flight school by attracting

the brightest students, the pursuit of elite status tends to result in

an overwhelmingly white student body from middle to upper-income

families. On the other hand, progressive students and

professors have argued for many years that UCLA, as a taxpayer-

supported institution and the only public law school in

Southern California, has a heightened obligation to educate and

serve people whose diversity reflects that of the state.

This tension in UCLA’s mission is most often revealed in the

debate over its admissions standards: whether to allocate highly

coveted admissions slots strictly on the basis of college grades

and LSAT scores, or on considerations of academic performance

along with factors such as race, class, and the ability and likelihood

to serve low-income minority communities. This comment

argues that values other than academic performance should be

more explicitly recognized as independently important – particularly

in public law school admissions – rather than as mere

aberrations to prevailing notions of academic merit.

The first section of this comment presents a historical account

of UCLA law school’s affirmative action program. The

90

I’ ‘-~ · ~ .

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 91

second section is devoted to a critical discussion of current

UCLA admissions standards and procedures, with proposed

strategies for change. While this comment focuses on UCLA,

the author hopes that this case study will provide insight and guidance

to all advocates of affirmative action.

II. A HisTORICAL AccoUNT OF UCLA SCHooL OF LAw’s

AFFIRMATIVE AcnoN PRoGRAM

A. The Creation of the Legal Educational Opportunity

Program (LEOP), 1966-1967

UCLA law school’s affirmative action program, like similar

programs across the country, began in response to the political

and social climate created by the civil rights movement of the

1960s. In 1965, when the nation’s law schools began to recruit

more minorities, there were no more than 700 black students

among the 65,000 studying law across the country.1 Of the 700

black students, more than 300 were enrolled at the predominantly

black Howard Law School.2 Statistics for Latinos, Asian

Pacific Americans, Native Americans, and other students of

color were not available in 1965, but the enrollment figures for

these groups were likely to have been even lower.

At UCLA, the Watts riots in the summer of 1965 created a

heightened sense of urgency over concerns of race and social inequity.

UCLA was the only public law school in Los Angeles, a

major metropolitan area with one of the most racially diverse

populations in the country. UCLA faculty members – who

have the power to establish the school’s admissions policies –

were heavily influenced by the sense of social pressure and moral

responsibility created by the civil rights movement. 3 As one observer

wrote, “The adoption of preferential admissions programs

by colleges and professional schools seemed a sensible response

to mounting racial tensions caused by the failure of the civil

rights movement to effect more substantive improvement in …

[minority] opportunities and status. “4

Responding to an emerging national trend created by the

civil rights movement, UCLA took initial steps toward an affirmative

action program. At the time, no other California law

school had such a program. UCLA’s initiative was largely due to

1. Louis A. Toepfer, Harvard’s Special Summer School Program, 18 J. LEGAL

Eouc. 443 (1966).

2. ld.

3. Sam Magavern, From Reform to Institution: The History of UCLA Law

School’s Affirmative Action Admissions Procedure 5 (Dec. 19, 1988) (unpublished

student paper, on file with the UCLA Law Library).

4. DERRICK A. BELL JR., RACE, RACISM, AND AMERICAN LAw 658 (3rd ed.,

1992).

92 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

. the efforts of Professor Leon Letwin, the principal architect of

the school’s Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP).s

During the late 1960s, according to Letwin, UCLA and several

other law schools became more willing to accept institutional

responsibility for diversifying their student bodies, rather than

simply bemoaning the profound social inequalities that, in effect,

were barring minorities from legal education.6 Also, the presence

of minority students in law schools became increasingly recognized

as improving the quality of education for the entire

student body because they contributed perspectives unfamiliar to

the existing predominantly white, middle to upper-class student

body.7

The first step that Letwin took was to participate in Harvard

Law School’s special summer school program for black law students

in 1966. Juniors and seniors from southern black colleges

were recruited to attend a program designed to introduce them

to the possibilities of a legal career and to encourage applications

not only to Harvard Law School, but to other law schools as well.

Harvard had already established an affirmative action admissions

program in 1963, admitting 3 black students in 1963, 12 in 1964,

15 in 1965, and 21 in 1966.8

When he returned to UCLA that fall, Letwin, as a member

of the Admissions and Standards Committee (Admissions Committee),

prepared a report to the faculty recommending “adoption

of a program designed to increase law school enrollment of

persons disadvantaged by reason of poverty and ethnic discrimination.

“9 Specifically, the report proposed that the school accept

10 to 15 disadvantaged students for the 1967-1968 year under a

separate admissions process, develop a recruitment program for

such students, operate a summer orientation program similar to

Harvard’s, create a counseling-tutorial program, establish a

scholarship fund, and create ·a faculty committee to supervise the

program as a whole.to

The report presented three primary objectives. First, the

program would help “counteract the effects of poverty and discrimination.

“11 Second, the report highlighted the law school’s

responsibility in molding student attitudes about the “appropri-

5. See generally Leon Letwin, Some Perspectives on Minority Access to Legal

Education, 2 EXPERIMENT AND INNOVATION (1969).

6. /d. at 2.

7. /d.

8. Memorandum from the Admissions and Standards Committee to the

Faculty app. A at 1 (Oct. 18, 1966) (on file with the UCLA School of Law La Raza

Law Students Association [hereinafter LRLSA]).

9. /d. at 1.

10. /d. at 3-4.

11. /d. at 4.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 93

ate concerns for lawyers. “12 Third, the new program would help

meet the accelerating demand for minority professionals, encourage

other minorities to pursue professional careers, and

“contribute at least modestly to the opportunities available to the

disadvantaged to improve the circumstances of their lives in order

to break the self-perpetuating generation-to-generation cycle

of disadvantage. “13

The report particularly emphasized that UCLA, as a public

institution, be sensitive to problems of poverty and discrimination

and be committed to countering their effects. This obligation

was deemed to be important not only for the “moral

leadership” it offered but also for the immediate tangible results

of admitting disadvantaged students.14

At this time, the existing admissions system relied almost

solely on the applicant’s college grades and LSAT scores.15 In

the 1960s, this system resulted in an almost exclusively white student

body. According to Michael Rappaport, Assistant Dean of

Student Admissions:

[There were] serious questions about the proper use and validity

of traditional objective law school admission measurements

such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and grade

point average when applied to minority applicants. Having

virtually no experience in applying these factors to non-white

applicants as other than a barrier which kept minority applicants

out of school, the law schools were really not certain to

what extent they could be used in choosing among minority

applicants whom the school did wish to admit. There were

questions shared by some if not all law school faculty and administration

about whether the LSAT had any validity at all

among minority applicants, and, if it was valid, to what extent

was it valid. The same thought, though to a lesser degree, applied

to undergraduate grades.16

To replace a system that relied solely on college grades and

the LSAT, the Admissions Committee proposed the following

admissions criteria as indicators of an applicant’s probable law

school performance: {1) LSAT and college grades, (2) evidence

of grade improvement over time or special competence in relevant

areas, (3) personal interview, ( 4) interviews with the applicant’s

college teachers and advisors, and (5) evidence of relevan~

interests and motivation.17 Additional factors to be considered

12. /d.

13. /d. at 5.

14. /d.

15. /d. at 6.

16. Michael D. Rappaport, The Legal Educational Opportunity Program at

UCLA: Eight Years of Experience, 4 BLACK LJ. 5C17 (1975).

17. Memorandum, supra note 8, at 7-8.

94 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

would be: (1) history of discrimination and poverty, (2) quality of

pre-law educational opportunities, (3) lack of other relevant opportunities,

and ( 4) assessment of the applicant’s motivation and

interests.18

The report was careful to emphasize that the Admissions

Committee was not advocating the admission of unqualified people,

rather “the admission only of those who in the school’s judgment

have the ability to successfully complete law school careers

but who do not qualify under our present extremely high (and

rising) standards . . . . “19

At the same time, it is important to stress that the Letwin

proposal explicitly emphasized the twin goals of remedying discrimination

and poverty.20 That is, Letwin and the other original

supporters of LEOP intended to recruit and admit not only racial

minorities, but students from economically and educationally disadvantaged

backgrounds. 21

The Letwin report was carefully packaged and presented to

the faculty for approval. The proposal was relatively modest –

only 10 to 15 LEOP students were to be admitted. The Admissions

Committee discussed the report widely among the faculty

to incorporate their concerns before submitting it to a vote. The

faculty approved the LEOP proposal by a wide margin.22

To place UCLA’s adoption of LEOP in proper context, several

factors should be considered. As discussed earlier, the civil

rights movement provided the general social and political climate

for the change. During these times of heightened sens~tivity to

issues of racism and poverty, Letwin’s leadership and dedication

to the establishment of LEOP was critical. His efforts were particularly

remarkable given the fact that, at the time, he was not

yet a tenured professor.23 ·

Several other institutional characteristics were relevant to

the adoption of LEOP. There was a core group of liberal faculty

members who solidly supported the proposal. Moreover, according

to one observer, LEOP provided UCLA with an opportunity

to define itself as a leader and unique among the nation’s law

schools. As The Docket (formerly the UCLA Docket), the law

school’s newspaper, declared in an editorial, “UCLA Law School

is in the limelight of U.S. legal education for its initiative and

18. Id. at 8-9.

19. Id. at 6-7.

20. ld. at 1.

21. Id. at 4-5.

22. Magavern, supra note 3, at 4.

23. Interview with Kenneth Graham, Professor of Law at the UCLA School of

Law, in Los Angeles, Cal. (May 16, 1994).

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 95

foresight. “24 Also, the school may have been particularly amenable

to change because it was relatively young – the law school

was founded only 15 years earlier, in 1951.25

It is also noteworthy that LEOP was adopted with little or

no student pressure, either for or against the proposal. For example,

when the UCLA Docket published an open student forum

on What’s Wrong With the Law School in 1966, there was no reference

to the LEOP proposal or to the near absence of minority

students. 26

In the fall of 1967, the first LEOP students enrolled. In a

class of 210, 13 black students and 4 Latino students enrolled. Of

these 17 students, 14 entered through LEOP and 3 through regular

admissions. 21

B. The Initial LEOP Years, 1967-1971

After establishing LEOP’s general framework, one of the

first tasks addressed was recruitment. Letwin organized a summer

orientation program similar to the one he had attended at

Harvard. In the summer of 1968, UCLA, University of Southern

California, and Loyola law schools jointly sponsored a summer

program for about 40 black and Latino pre-law students.28 The

program was sponsored by the Council on Legal Opportunity

(CLEO), an organization established in January 1968 by the Association

of American Law Schools, the American Bar Association,

the National Bar Association, and the Law School

Admission Test Council.29 Students could apply to all three

schools by applying to the Los Angeles CLEO program. 30

While the Harvard summer program recruited black students

from the South to apply to law schools across the country,

the Los Angeles CLEO program recruited minorities within the

Los Angeles area and tried to concentrate the students in the

local law schools. 31 Letwin, as the Los Angeles CLEO Director,

argued that this concentration would help UCLA fulfill its duty

as a “corporate citizen” of Los Angeles.32 Furthermore, it would

provide students with a more familiar and hospitable environ-

24. Non-white Profs Are Needed at Law School, UCLA DoCKET, Nov. 25, 1968,

at 2.

25. Magavern, supra note 3, at 5.

26. Forum: What’s Wrong with the Law School, UCLA DoCKET, Sept. 30, 1966,

at 3.

27. Magavern, supra note 3, at 7.

28. Letwin, supra note 5, at 3.

29. /d. at 3.

30. ld. at 8.

31. Memorandum, supra note 8, at 12-13.

32. Letwin, supra note 5, at 7-8.

96 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

ment and enable them “to develop a more effective voice within

the school on issues of vital concern to them.”33

After. two years of CLEO, however, UCLA decided that its

benefit as a recruitment tool and tutorial device was limited and

short lived.34 By that time, UCLA was able to look to their own

LEOP students to help recruit and interview applicants. The students

were receptive and eager to expand the program and gain

influence in the decision-making process.Js

While developing the school’s recruitment efforts, the

faculty also focused on revising the admissions process. Some

faculty members questioned the validity of existing admissions

procedures. Letwin, for example, felt that it was “indefensible

that the decisions should reflect solely the values of white academics”

and argued that “[a]ppropriate participation should be

guaranteed through minority faculty members (where they exist),

administrators, students, or lawyers.”36 Thus, in the fall of 1968,

the faculty added voting student members to most of its committees,

including the Admissions Committee. 37 Moreover, the

faculty decided to allow the newly formed Black American Law

Students Association (BALSA) and the Mexican American and

Indian Law Students Association (MAILSA) to conduct

mandatory interviews with each minority applicant to determine

whether to recommend the candidate for admission. 38

With the groundwork for LEOP established, proponents of

the program pushed for its expansion. Letwin advocated for

UCLA’s minority enrollment to approximate the minority population

in California, which was then 20 to 25 percent.39 Under

Letwin ‘s leadership as Chair of the Admissions Committee,

UCLA enrolled 47 LEOP students (26 black, .19 Chicano, and 2

Native American students) in the fall of 1969.40 The faculty also

adopted the expansion of admissions quotas to 32 black, 32 Chicano,

and 2 Native American students for each entering class.41

This expansion gave UCLA the largest affirmative action

program of any law school in the country.42 Some of the faculty,

including the new Dean, Murray Schwartz, thought the expansion

was a rash decision, feeling that many of the students filling

33. Id. at 7-8.

34. Rappaport, supra note 16, at 512.

35. Id. at 511.

36. Letwin, supra note 5, at 16.

37. Magavem, supra note 3, at 10.

38. Id. at 9.

39. Jim Birmingham, Prof. Letwin Calls for 25% Minority Student Enrollment,

UCLA DOCKET, Nov. 25,1968, at 1.

40. Magavem, supra note 3, at 10.

41. ld.

42. ld.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS

the slots would not have the academic qualifications to graduate

and pass the bar.43 Others were concerned that UCLA was becoming

a school for the “less-qualified. “44 One professor recalls:

The most tense faculty meeting I ever attended took place

during the 1969-70 academic year, when we considered the

question of whether to increase the number of minority admissions.

The debate was couched in terms of whether we should

show our commitment by increasing the then current numbers.

No one discussed what everyone was thinking: “If we increase

to X now, must we show good faith next year by increasing X

and good faith the next year by improving on that figure, etc.

– and at what point will the character of the law school, as we

know it, change.”45

Despite these apprehensions, LEOP continued to expand.

In 1969, two Asian American students who had entered the

school under regular admissions proposed the creation of two

LEOP slots for Asian American students. The faculty initially

rejected extending the program, arguing that Asian Americans

had suffered less socioeconomic and educational disadvantages

than blacks, Chicanos, and Native Americans. However, as a

demonstration of political solidarity, BALSA and MAILSA supported

the Asian American students’ proposal with each organization

giving up one of the quota slots reserved for blacks and

Chicanos in order to admit two Asian American LEOP students

in 1970.46 This demonstration of interracial support began a

longstanding tradition at UCLA: Students of color working collaboratively

to support affirmative action.

In 1971, the school responded to continued pressure by setting

aside six LEOP slots for Asian Americans:

With the addition of the Asian adrnissions slots, the LEOP

program assumed the size that it would maintain until the

landmark Bakke decision of 1978. In 1971, the law school enrolled

31 black, 31 Chicano, 6 Asian, and 2 Native American

students to attain 22 [percent] minority enrollment.47

While most schools at the time did not consider Asian Americans

for affirmative action programs, UCLA recognized the sizeable

Asian American community in Los Angeles and in the state, as

well as their significant proportional underrepresentation in the

43. Id.

44. Id. at 11.

45. Memorandum from Reginald Alleyne, Professor of Law at the UCLA

School of Law, to the Faculty 3 (June 1, 1978) (on file with LRLSA}.

46. Interview with Mike Yamamoto, in Los Angeles, Cal. (Feb. 23, 1992}, cited

in Doris Ng, A History of APILSA’s Struggle With UCLAW’s Admissions Program

8 (March 11, 1992) (unpublished student paper, on file with LRLSA).

47. Magavem, supra note 3, at 12-13.

98 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

legal profession.48 The faculty also recognized the history of

anti-Asian racism such as the World War n Japanese internment

camps and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Several factors are relevant in analyzing the institutional dynamics

that led to LEOP’s expansion in its early years. One factor

was the infiuence of minority students. BALSA and

MAILSA provided students of color with an organizational base

to participate in the admissions process and to push for LEOP’s

expansion. Another factor was the hiring of young, liberal

faculty members at the law school.49 For example, in 1969, a

quarter of the faculty had been hired within the previous three

years.50 Of the six who started in 1969, Reginald Alleyne and

Henry McGee were black, Gary Schwartz was the co-founder of

the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, and

Michael Tigar was a Berkeley student activist. 51 In fact, it was

Tigar who had proposed the LEOP expansion in 1969.52 Finally,

the faculty assessed LEOP’s first year and determined that larger

numbers of minority students were needed to avoid creating a

sense of isolation and tokenism among them. 53

C. Debates Over LEOP Standards and Procedures, 1972-1977

The admissions debate at UCLA during most of the 1970s

focused less ·on the number of LEOP admission slots and more

on admission standards and decision-making procedures. While

minority enrollment nationwide rose from 5.9 percent in 1971-72

to a peak of 8.1 percent in 1976-77, UCLA remained far ahead of

most schools and felt less social pressure to expand LEOP .54 The

faculty generally felt that the law school was accepting roughly as

many applicants as had the minimum qualifications to make it

through law school and the bar examination.55 Moreover, black,

Chicano, and Native American applications to the school remained

consistent. Applications from Asian American students

were rising steadily, but the school felt less of a need to admit

Asian American students through affirmative action as they began

to enter universities in larger numbers under regular

admissions.56

48. Magavem, supra note 3, at 12.

49. ld. at 11.

SO. Cruger Briant, New Profs Show Chtmges, UCLA DoCKET, Sept. 24, 1969, at

1, 8.

51. Magavem, supra note 3, at 12.

52. ld.

53. ld. at 11-12.

54. Id. at 15.

55. ld.

56. ld.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 99

On the issue of admissions standards, minority activists argued

that the LEOP program should focus on admitting disadvantaged

students of color who were likely to serve their

communities. 57 They argued that race, economic and educational

disadvantage, and prior commitment to community service

should be the primary basis of LEOP admissions decisions.

These factors, they argued, were better indicators than grades .

and the LSAT to determine an applicant’s likelihood to serve

their community as a lawyer. Grades and the LSAT, on the

other hand, should be considered only to demonstrate that an

applicant possessed the minimum academic skills necessary to

successfully complete law school and pass the bar. Moreover, the

students of color argued that they were better qualified than the

mostly white and socioeconomically privileged professors and

administrators to determine which applicants identified most

closely with low-income and minority communities and would be

the most able and likely to serve these communities.

The faculty, on the other hand, disagreed among themselves

as to the importance of nonacademic criteria and minority student

input in admissions decision-making. Under Letwin’s leadership,

UCLA had de-emphasized its traditional reliance on

college grades and LSAT scores as admissions criteria. The

traditional criteria returned into favor, however, when LEOP

students demonstrated difficulties in law school and on bar exam.

inations and when professors, other than the original LEOP proponents,

became more assertive in the admissions debate.

The conflict between the positions of the minority student

groups and many of the faculty was evident in the LEOP admissions

decision-making process. For example, the 1971 Admissions

Committee consisted of six professors and three students.

The three minority student organizations interviewed all applicants

over a two-month period, either in person or by phone.

They emphasized factors such as community service and ethnic

affiliation. The student groups then compiled preference lists

based on the interviews. Meanwhile, faculty members compiled

a preference list based solely on grades and LSAT scores. From

that point, faculty and student members of the Admissions Committee

negotiated over applicants on the basis of their respective

rank orderings.58

57. ld.

58. Chicano LEOP Admissions Process, HoSTILE WITNESS (UCLA Chapter of

the Nat’l Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Sept. 20, tm, at 3, 4.

100 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

1. LEOP Standards: A Renewed Emphasis on Academic

Criteria, 1973

In 1971, the faculty formed a LEOP task force to address

their concerns over the academic qualifications of LEOP students.

59 The faculty now had five years of experience with over

three hundred LEOP students and three years of their barresults.

Only two of the ten students from the class of 1970 who

made it to the bar passed it. 6o Only 35 percent of the class of

1971 who took the bar passed it on their first try, and only 15

percent of the class of 1972 who took the bar passed it on their

.first try.61 The statistics were quite discouraging for LEOP students

at the time the task force was convened.

The task force recommended to the faculty the adoption of a

new admissions system which, while continuing to utilize subjective

criteria, placed greater emphasis on LSAT scores and college

grades. This recommendation was based on the task force’s findings

of apparently significant correlations between academic criteria

and law school and bar exam performance for LEOP

students. 62 According to Rappaport, their findings seemed to indicate

that while the LSAT and grades could not be used when

measuring minority students against white students without taking

into account their disadvantaged backgrounds, the same data

could be used when measuring minority applicants against each

other in order to select those applicants most likely to successfully

complete law school and become members of the bar.63

There were also signs of both internal and external political

influences on the task force. For example, Rappaport and many

faculty members interpreted the data to indicate that “below a

certain minimum, measurable level of competence, motivation,

desire and special help are simply not enough to get minorities

into the legal system in an acceptably large number of cases to

justify a special admissions progran) to its would-be critics and

outside observers. “64 Some members of the task force were

more candid about the political heat that LEOP opponents were

directing at the law school. Affirmative action was becoming increasingly

controversial in the country. Also, some faculty members

were unhappy about how the LEOP bar results, in their

opinion, were undermining UCLA’s national prestige.65

59. Magavem, supra note 3, at 16.

60. Rappaport, supra note 16, at 526.

61. Id.

62. Id. at 508-511.

63. Id. at 507.

64. Id. at 511.

65. LEOP Curtailed, HosTILE WITNEss (UCLA Chapter of the Nat’l Lawyers

Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Mar. 26, 1973, at 1, 11.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 101

On March 5, 1973, the faculty approved the task force’s new

statement of purpose for the LEOP program.66 The newlyadopted

statement of purpose did not differ significantly from

the general LEOP goals already in place. However, one significant

policy change was that the law school would only consider

applicants with a predictive index (PI) over a minimum threshold.

The predictive index represents a figure calculated from a

standard formula using an applicant’s grades and LSAT score.

The student interviews would continue, but with the primary goal

of shedding additional light on an applicant’s academic ability

and probability of completing law school and entering the legal

profession. 67

The faculty also adopted the task force’s recommendation

that applicants should not be evaluated on the basis of their

stated commitment to community service.68 While the task force

did not disagree with the program’s goal of increasing community

service, there were several concerns. One was that the concept

of “community service” was too vague.69 For example, the

admissions criteria was not clear as to whether one who works in

a corporate law firm could be considered to be serving her community.

70 Second, there was the fear that applicants would uniformly

declare community service as a goal regardless of their

actual intentions. 71 Third, some professors felt that the law

school should not be attempting to mold the career choices of

individuals.72 Finally, some professors believed that a “substantial

portion of graduates in the program will in fact devote a significant

part of their professional endeavors to such service. “73

Therefore,. the faculty decided that an admissions criterion to encourage

service was not necessary.

The minority student groups criticized the renewed emphasis

on traditional academic criteria by arguing that the faculty

had gutted one of the original goals of LEOP – to train lawyers

from disadvantaged backgrounds to serve the underserved –

and replaced it with a program for the “cream of the Chicano,

black, and Asian crop. “74 This criticism would be repeated many

times in subsequent years as UCLA’s admissions standards

placed increasing emphasis on grades and the LSAT.

66. Minutes of Faculty Meeting, March 5, 1973, at 209 (on file with the Office of

the Dean, UCLA School of Law).

67. Id. at 210.

68. /d. at 212.

69. ld.

70. Id. at 212-13.

71. Id. at 213.

72. ld.

73. Id.

74. LEOP CurtaUed, supra note 65, at 1.

102 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

2. The Denial of Student Voting Power on Admissions Matters,

1975

In 1975, the administration took further steps to weaken student

input in the admissions process. Students had voted along

with faculty members on individual admissions cases since the

initial appointment of students to the Admissions Committee.

However, in the fall of 1972, Dean Murray Schwartz claimed that

the law school’s by-law provisions allowing students and other

non-faculty members to vote confiicted with the Standing Orders

of the Regents of the University of California, which delegates

the power to make admissions decisions to the faculty of each

campus department. 1s Thus, according to Schwartz, university

policy did not allow students to vote on individual admissions

cases. Despite student protests that the administration was misinterpreting

the university regulations, the Admissions Committee

stripped student members of their voting power in the spring

of 1975.76

Despite the loss of voting privileges, students continued to

play an influential role in the admissions decision-making process.

As the faculty meeting minutes of January 26, 1976

indicated:

The fact is that student influence on the decisions of the Admissions

Committee is substantial, even in the absence of the

students’ right to vote. On the basis of last year’s experience,

it appears that disagreement between student and faculty

members of the Admissions Committee on selection of LEOP

applicants occurs in relatively few cases.n

3. Students Reassert Nontraditional Admissions Criteria, 1975

On April 23, 1975, the Admissions Committee met to discuss

two proposed admissions policy changes. One was a proposal

to further formalize the emphasis on grades and the LSAT by

ranking applicants by their predictive index with the presumption

that this ranking would be followed. The second was to completely

eliminate any student and faculty consideration of an applicant’s

likelihood of community service.

Notified in advance of the Committee’s meeting, students

mobilized. Over a hundred students packed the faculty conference

room as the Third World Coalition (Coalition)- the Asian

American Law Students Association (AALSA), the renamed

75. Murray the Marshmallow, HoSTILE WITNESs (UCLA Chapter of the Nat’l

Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Nov. 6, 1972, at 1, 7.

76. LEOP Students Seek Greater Control, HoSTILE WITNESS (UCLA Chapter

of the Nat’l Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Nov. 24, 1975, at 6.

77. Minutes of Faculty Meeting, Jan. 26, 1976, at 173 (on file with the Office of

the Dean, UCLA School of Law).

1995) UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 103

Chicano Law Students Association (CLSA), and BALSA

presented a list of demands:

1. That the Predictability Index be discarded;

2. That Third World students exercise an equal vote on the

LEOP Admissions Policy Committee;

3. That the vehicle employed for evaluation and selection of

the Third World applicant be the interview process established

by the respective group, in compliance with the following

considerations:

a. The candidate’s knowledge of and sensitivity to the social,

political, educational, and economic problems faced

by his or her community;

b. The candidate’s previous community involvement;

c. Bi-lingual ability, where applicable;

d. The socio-economic composition of the candidate’s

family;

e. The candidate’s educational experience;

f. The candidate’s work experience.78

As in the 1973 debate, the Coalition and faculty members once

again confronted each other over whether to emphasize the predictive

index or the list of criteria designed to favor disadvantaged

minorities committed to community service. For example,

CLSA argued that the predictive index measures how far removed

the Third World applicants are from their own racial and

cultural group and how well the candidate has adopted the standards

and values of the white majority culture. 79

To evaluate the proposals of both the faculty and the Coalition,

the new Dean, William Warren, formed an LEOP task force

in the fall of 1975, with six professors and four students.80 The

task force held hearings, received written comments, and prepared

a report that the faculty adopted without major changes on

January 26, 1976.st

The report was a mixed bag for students. On the one hand,

the task force stated that “the evaluation and selection of LEOP

applicants … should take into account not only all of the conventional

criteria but also all six of the criteria listed by the Third

World Coalition …. “82 However, the faculty’s deep skepticism

of the ability to predict and adequately define “community service”

led them to decide that “the future intention of an applicant

to seek employment in or to serve his or her minority

78. Crucial LEOP Confrontation, HoSTILE WITNESS (UCLA Chapter of the

Nat’l Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Apr. 23, 1975, at 1; Minutes of Faculty

Meeting, supra note n, at 163-164.

79. Position of the Chicano lAw Students Association, HoSTILE WITNESS

(UCLA Chapter of the Nat’l Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Apr. 23, 1975, at 3.

80. LEOP Students Seek Greater Control, supra note 76, at 6.

81. Minutes of Faculty Meeting, supra note 77, at 157.

82. ld. at 172.

104 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

community should not be considered a criterion for admission. “83

At the same time, they recognized the importance of admitting

students who would be well qualified to serve if they chose to do

so. As the report summarized, “[N]o one supposes that pledges

by applicants to ‘return to the community’ are reliable predictions

of future conduct; but the six criteria listed will help to determine

which applicants have the minimum skills necessary for

effective work in the minority community.”84

The report also focused on the mandatory student

interviews:

Perhaps no aspect of the LEOP admissions program has received

as much critical attention as the [minority student

group] interview process. Concern has been expressed from

time to time that the compulsory interview may be “threatening/’

“humiliating,” and “insulting”; that there may not be sufficient

safeguards against favoritism in the selection process;

and that applicants who are political activists and advocates of

“radical social change” may be given preference over those

who are believed to accept “establishment values.”85

Nevertheless, the task force rejected challenges to the mandatory

interviewing process by concluding, “[w]hatever irrelevant and

invidious influences may have been brought to bear in the interview

process in the early stages of the LEOP admissions program,

we have found no significant evidence that they exist

today.”86 The task force decided that making the LEOP interviews

optional would create a double standard – some applicants

being admitted primarily on their paper records and others

on the basis of the Coalition’s criteria, which the task force considered

“both relevant and significant. “87

The faculty was also concerned with the Coalition’s proposed

consideration of “the candidate’s knowledge of and sensitivity

to, the social, political, educational and economic problems

faced by his or her community. “88 They feared that this standard

carried too much potential for abuse as an ideological litmus test.

The task force investigated these concerns and concluded, “We

have found no evidence to support the charge that LEOP applicants

are selected primarily on the basis of economic, social, or

political ideology.s9 Indeed, it appears that those admitted in recent

years reflect a broad range of views on those matters. “90

83. Id.

84. ld. at 172-73.

85. Id. at 169.

86. ld.

87. Id. at 170.

88. ld. at 157.

89. ld.

90. Id. at 170.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 105

Nonetheless, to allay any persistent concerns, the faculty voted to

add to the report, “No political test shall be used in the admissions

process. “91

Perhaps most significant for students, the faculty adopted

the task force’s proposal that the applicants be considered in the

?r~er r~ed by the students and that “[i]n the ordinary course,

tt IS anttctpated that the student groups’ ranking will be accepted

by the Admissions Committee. “92 This presumption in favor of

the student rankings of applicants seemed to be a clear victory

for the Coalition.

The student presumption was debated at length. Professor

Kenneth Karst, an influential member of the faculty, urged adoption

of the student presumption, arguing that it was crucial to

show that the faculty sincerely believed that the student interview

process was important, and that adopting the student presumption

was a symbol of the faculty’s faith in the interview

process.93 Professor Letwin also supported it, arguing that since

there was no student vote on the Admissions Committee, the

presumption was a relatively mild vote of confidence for the legitimacy

of the student interview process.94 However, other

faculty members argued against the presumption, objecting to

the presumptive power that it gave to the students’ recommendations.

Dean Warren cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the

students, on the condition that the specific wording of the policy

be changed to emphasize the “predictive” and not “imperative”

nature of the student recommendations.9s

While the adoption of the student presumption was an important

symbolic victory for the Coalition, the actual implementation

of the presumption was often questionable. According to

one professor, different Admissions Committee faculty members

accorded different weight to the student recommendations ranging

from none, in clear violation of the presumption, to some

weight in close cases. 96 ·

Nonetheless, it is important to understand why the faculty

acceded to many of the student demands for nontraditional admissions

criteria and student input. It is likely that the persistence,

vehemence and well-organized nature of the Coalition’s

protests was a significant factor. Student voting power was a

compelling cause to rally around, and the Coalition, along with

91. ld. at 157.

92. /d. at 161.

93. LEOP Admissions, HosTILE WITNESS (UCLA Chapter of the Nat’l Lawyers

Guild, Los Angeles, Cal.), Feb. 19, 1976, at 4, 6.

94. /d.

95. ld.

96. Alleyne, supra note 45, at 3.

106 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

the leftist National Lawyers Guild, provided an excellent or-.

ganizing base.97 But the ultimate decision-making power still resided

with th~ faculty. The student protests were effective

primarily because many faculty members were already sensitive

to the students’ arguments, accusations, and anger. For example,

Professor Karst argued that the adoption of the student presumption

would help build a feeling of community between

faculty and students.9S

D. The Impact of Bakke: UCLA’s Adoption of “Diversity”

Admissions, 1978

During the first ten years of LEOP, the debate over admissions

standards and procedures was driven largely by the law

school’s internal politics. However, the Supreme Court’s

landmark Bakke99 decision had a greater impact on UCLA’s affirmative

action program than any development since the civil

rights movement. Bakke held that the University of California,

Davis Medical School’s racial admissions quota system was unconstitutional.

100 Most of the UCLA faculty interpreted Bakke

to mean that the LEOP program was also likely to be found unconstitutional.

The law school was particularly concerned because

at least one organization, the Anti-Defamation League of

B’Nai B’Rith, had intimated that they were considering a lawsuit

to challenge LEOP.tot

In the fall of 1978, Dean Warren appointed a new task force

to revise the school’s admissions policy. The chairman of the

task force, constitutional law professor Kenneth Karst, informally

consulted with faculty members while preparing the task

force report. There seemed to be a broad consensus that the

faculty wanted to preserve the school’s minority enrollment at

current levels while protecting., their affirmative action efforts

from litigation. Under Karst’s leadership, the task force decided

that the best way to achieve these objectives was to follow what

Karst calls the “how-to-do-it manual” of Justice Powell’s opinion

in Bakke, which approved Harvard College’s “diversity” ap-

. proach.1°2 Powell rejected the traditional affirmative action focus

on remedying past discrimination, and instead treated race as

97. Rogelio Flores, The Stru$gle for Minority Admissions: the UCLA Experience,

5 CHICANO L. REv. 1, 4-5 (1982).

98. Steve Shuman, LEOP Report Adapted, THE DoCKET, Feb. 26, 1976, at 1, 8.

99. Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978).

100. /d.

101. Magavem, supra note 3, at 23.

102. Memorandum from the Admissions Task Force to the Faculty 2-4 (Nov. 21,

1978) (on file with the UCLA Law Library) [hereinafter Karst Report]; Bakke, 438

U.S. at 316-19.

(

i

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 107

one of a broad range of “diversity” factors that university admissions

officers could appropriately consider in seeking diverse student

bodies.103 Using Powell’s opinion as a guide, the task force

set out to design a diversity admissions program that would continue

to be race-conscious, at least in part.104 The Karst Report,

as the task force’s proposal became known, was adopted by the

faculty.105

The Karst Report gave two official goals for the newly

adopted admissions program:

(a) Academic Promise. No student shall be admitted to the

law school unless it is probable that he or she will be able to

complete law school successfully and to be admitted to the bar

by passing [the] bar examination.

(b) Diversity in the Student Body. The Law School seeks

to produce a student body that is diverse in its members’

backgrounds, perspectives and career goals, in order to

achieve the educational benefits of such diversity and to promote

the objective of providing legal representation for the

underrepresented.t06

The Report’s diversity criteria included:

1. racial/ethnic background;

2. ability in languages other than English;

3. work experience or career achievement;

4. previous positions of leadership or other special

achievements;

5. prior community or public service;

6. unusual life experiences;

7. physical handicap or other disadvantage;

8. career goals;

9. economic disadvantage.t07

One of the most important features of the diversity program

was its size – up to 40 percent of each entering class. An interesting

issue is how this 40 percent figure was arrived at, given the

20 to 25 percent enrollment quotas that were in place under the

LEOP program. The Karst Report implied that the numerical

level of minority enrollment would remain basically constant.

For example, the report stated, “[o]ur recent levels of minority

representation have enabled us to reap the rewards of … ‘educational

pluralism.’ “tos The report also cited the need to maintain

a “critical mass” of students from each minority group “to avoid

103. Bakke, 438 U.S. at 316-319.

104. Karst Report, supra note 102, at 2-3.

105. Flores, supra note 97, at 11; Howard Posner, Faculty Adopts Diversity Admissions

as Minority Students go on Hunger Strike, THE DoCKET, Dec. 7, 1978, at 1.

106. Karst Report, supra note 102, at 17.

107. Id. at 18.

108. Id. at 6.

108 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

the sense of isolation and to make such students feel comfortable

in speaking in the classroom and otherwise participating actively

. . .. “109 These statements suggested the desire of the task force

to maintain the existing levels of minority enrollment. Thus, in

order to maintain the 20 to 25 percent minority enrollment

levels, any new affirmative action program would have to be expanded

to admit students under diversity criteria other than race.

Moreover, according to Karst, the 40 percent figure was primarily

a result of litigation strategy. According to one observer,

The [t)ask [f]orce, being cautious litigators and liberal policymakers,

felt that the diversity enrollment would have to be 35-

40 percent to fend off any claims that it was simply the LEOP

system in disguise. In other words, 10-20 percent non-minority

students would be enrolled as a kind of litigation

buffer. “110

However, the .report was careful to emphasize that every applicant

is eligible for consideration for every place in the entering

class, regardless of race.1tt

The Coalition vehemently opposed the new diversity admissions

system on several grounds. One of the main points of contention

was the extent to which an applicant’s disadvantaged

background would be considered under the new diversity system.

The Karst Report focused on disadvantage only to the extent

that it sheds light on the likelihood of an applicant’s success in

law school and the bar examination.u2 For example, an applicant’s

full academic potential may not be indicated in her grades

and LSAT score if she had to work full-time while attending college

or could not afford a private LSAT preparatory course.

According to the Coalition, the faculty’s emphasis on grades

and the LSAT for diversity students meant that, in general, minorities

who have suffered the least amount of economic and educational

disadvantages would be the most likely to be admitted.

As an alternative, the Coalition emphasized disadvantage as the

primary criterion for affirmative action admissions.113 An emphasis

on disadvantage was likely to result in admitting diversity

students with lower grades and LSAT scores at the expense of

more well-to-do minorities with higher academic records. Proponents

of the disadvantaged approach argued that wealthier appli-

109. ld.

110. Magavem, supra note 3, at 23.

111. Karst Report, supra note 102, at 7.

112. Id. at 7-8.

113. See, e.g., Chicano Law Students Association, A Proposal for a Legal Educational

Opportunity Program for Disadvantaged Students, Oct. 13, 1978 (on file with

LRLSA); Esteban Lizardo, Historical Background, Speech at the UCLA School of

Law (Mar. 30, 1988), in 9 CHICANO L. REv. 75, 77 (1988).

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 109

cants can always go to private schools, while disadvantaged

students can only afford public schools.tt4

Moreover, the students charged that taking the focus away

from disadvantage would lead to the admission of minorities on

the basis of superficial characteristics such as an applicant’s skin

color or an ethnic surname, rather than .on the applicant’s life

experience as a disadvantaged minority. The diversity program,

they argued, smacked of tokenism.

Combined with the charge of tokenism, the Coalition attacked

what they saw as UCLA’s shift in focus from providing

legal representation to underserved minority communities to

providing a diverse educational environment for the benefit of

students. They felt that the diversity approach had taken away

the heart of LEOP: To train lawyers to serve disadvantaged

communities.11s Despite the fact that one of the new system’s

stated goals was to provide legal representation for the underrepresented,

many students and faculty supporters saw the primary

thrust of the diversity program to be the provision of a

diverse learning atmosphere. Professor Kenneth Graham, who

was an outspoken supporter of the Coalition’s position, opposed

the diversity program for being designed to create an “ethnic zoo

for the edification of wealthy white students. “116

Finally, students opposed the new admissions decision-making

procedure. Under the new procedure, the Admissions Committee

would be divided into three reading teams, each with two

professors and one student. Each team would select admittees

from a random third of the applicants whom the Assistant Dean

had selected as possessing one or more of the recognized diversity

characteristics. The minority student groups could submit a

written recommendation to accompany an applicant’s file, but

there was no presumption that it would be followed. Furthermore,

applicants would now have the option of personal interviews,

rather than being required to interview as they were under

LEOP.117

There were several reasons for eliminating mandatory student

interviews. Most of them were fully debated in past years,

including concerns over an applicant’s privacy, the faculty’s fear

of student groups engaging in ideological screening, and faculty

skepticism over the student groups’ ability to predict future community

service. According to the faculty, there were also some

reports of applicants who complained of offensive interviews, as

114. Howard Posner, Faculty Headed for ‘Diversity’ Admissions, THE DoCKET,

Nov. 1, 1978, at 1, 5.

115. Posner, supra note 105, at 1, 5.

116. Interview with Kenneth Graham, supra note 23.

117. Karst Report, supra note 102, at 1.

110 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 16:90

well as local pre-law advisors commenting that interviews were

deterring some potential applicants.us Fmally, many faculty

members felt that the mandatory interviews were simply a great

time burden on faculty and student participants that unjustifiably

delayed the admissions process.u9

Students protested the proposed diversity program bitterly.

The Coalition held several rallies, gathering the media’s attention

by featuring prominent supporters like civil rights leader Cesar

Chavez.120 Their attempts to reason with the faculty had failed,

and the new system was scheduled for adoption only days before

finals. Left to desperate measures, they occupied a wing of the

school, and more than forty students went on a hunger strike.

Many of the students feared that the faculty was going to use

Bakke to eliminate or significantly cut back on minority admissions,

and felt powerless to stop such changes except through

dramatic means. However, despite the students’ valiant efforts,

the faculty voted to adopt the diversity program.

The admissions policy changes indicated that the majority of

the faculty wanted to cut back on student influence in admissions

affairs. Even professors who had advocated for greater student

input as members of the 1975 LEOP task force felt that student

input had gone too far in the last three years.121 In particular,

many professors may have been reacting at least in part to events

in the previous school year, when students protested over

UCLA’s failure to fill the 32-student quota for Chicanos. That

year, students occupied the law library and went on strike for

eight days, effectively cancelling many classes with demonstrations,

picket lines, and a class boycott.122

Despite the fears of many students, minority enrollment ultimately

did not decrease under the diversity program. In the

years following the adoption of the new system, black and Latino

enrollment varied from year to year, while Asian American enrollment

increased most significantly.123

E. The Proposal to Cut Asian Americans from Diversity

Admissions, 1981-1982

There were several reasons for the rise in Asian American

enrollment. First, there was a dramatic increase in Asian Ameri-

118. /d. at 12-13.

119. Lizardo, supra note 113, at 76.

120. Cesar Chavez, A Worker’s Perspective, Speech at the UCLA School of Law

(Mar. 30, 1988), in 9 CHICANo L. REv. 75, 87 (1988).

121. Magavem, supra note 3, at 28.

122. Flores, supra note 97, at 6-7; Diane Shennan, Admissions to be Revised, THE

DoCKET, Aug. 31, 1978, at 1, 31.

123. Magavem, supra note 3 app. at 45-47.

I

(

I

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 111

can applicants, from 121 in 1979 to 319 in 1983. Also, more

Asian American applicants were being admitted strictly on the

basis of their grades and LSAT scores, rather than on diversity

considerations. Moreover, as one observer points out, ·Asian

American enrollment benefited from the admissions system

change. LEOP had 6 slots set aside for Asian Americans, while

diversity admissions had no such limit. While LEOP by design

set aside larger numbers of admission slots for blacks and Latinos,

the goals of the diversity program seemed to apply with

equal force to Asian Americans as to the other groups. This was

particularly true in light of the rapidly growing Asian American

community in Los Angeles and the state. Furthermore, the Admissions

Committee’s use of three reading teams – with one

student member from each of the Asian, black, and Latino stu- .

dent groups – may have boosted Asian American student influence

as well as created symbolic parity with blacks and

Latinos.124

Affirmative action for Asian Americans, particularly Chinese

and Japanese Americans, continued to be controversial

among the faculty, and the admissions reading teams were widely

inconsistent in their evaluation of Asian American applicants.

According to Michael Rappaport, Assistant Dean of Admissions,

in one year, one of the teams decided not to admit any Asian

American students.t25

In the fall of 1981, Professor Jonathan Varat, the Admissions

Committee chair for the 1981-82 school year, addressed the issue

of affirmative action for Asian Americans. Professor Varat

wanted to codify the prevailing practice of not admitting wealthier

Japanese and Chinese Americans under diversity admissions

unless they possessed some other diversity characteristic.126

Some faculty members felt that while Japanese and Chinese

Americans have certainly suffered historical discrimination they

should not receive special treatment. They cited the fact that

Chinese and Japanese Americans were already being admitted in

proportion to their statewide population representation through

the regular (i.e., non-diversity) admissions process.

While Varat claimed it was only a pro forma change, the

Asian Pacific Law Students Association (APLSA) and other supportive

students feared the proposal would result in a drop or

elimination of all Asian Americans from diversity admissions.

124. Id. at 30.

125. Id. at 31.

126. ld. at 31-32.

112 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW (Vol.16:90

According to one observer, at least some professors, . including

Dean Warren, intended a significant change.t27

Students mobilized to protest the proposed change. On

Aprill2, 1982, about 25 students occupied the law school records

office while over a hundred other students chanted in the adjacent

hallway. After a heated negotiation with the occupying students,

Dean Warren and then Assistant Dean, Susan Prager

signed an informal agreement that Asian Americans would not

be dropped from diversity admissions and that student interviews

would not be further denied, at least for the remainder of the

semester and over the summer.128 Prominent members of the local

Asian American community and bar association also lodged

protests with Dean Warren. Warren and Varat ultimately decided

to table the issue indefinitely.t29

F. Further Erosion of Student Input

· Students seemed to have succeeded in achieving at least a

symbolic victory in preventing the law school from cutting Asian

Americans from diversity admissions. However, the trend was

clearly toward further erosion of student input in admissions affairs.

Some faculty members, along with the new Dean, Susan

Prager, were discontent with the admissions reading teams. Each

year, the Admissions Committee reviewed several hundred to a

thousand applications from applicants who did not qualify

through regular admissions ( 60 percent of every entering class)

but may have qualified for further consideration because of elements

of diversity in their background. The procedure was as

follows. First, the Assistant Dean of Admissions read all files

and designated those appropriate for consideration under diversity

admissions. Second, if the applicant desired, a minority student

group interviewed the applicant and wrote comments on

her file before forwarding the file to two faculty members for a

vote.130

During his term as Chair of the Admissions Committee,

Varat proposed to do away with both reading teams and optional

interviews for several reasons. Frrst, Varat felt that the process

was burdensome to faculty and student participants.131 Second,

the reading teams were inconsistent in applying the official list of

criteria. The diversity criteria were numerous and somewhat

127. Id. at 32.

128. Picketers Invade Records Office, THE DoCKET, Apr. 19, 1982, at 1.

129. Magavern, supra note 3, at 32.

130. Memorandum from Jonathan Varat, Professor of Law at the UCLA School

of Law, to the Faculty (Dec. 1, 1981) (on file with LRLSA).

131. Barbara Riegelhaupt, Admissions: The Controversy, THE DoCKET, Feb. 16,

1982, at 1, 6.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 113

vague, creating a lot of room for interpretation. Each year

brought new professors and students into the process with different

ideas about what made an applicant attractive.132 Third, the

interviews and the lengthy decision-making process made the

system slow, resulting in UCLA lagging a month or more behind

other schools in sending out acceptance letters and recruiting top

students.133 Fmally, Varat asserted that the experience of past

committee members has been that the process yields very little

useful information that is not already available in the written

application.134

Instead, Varat suggested a system in which the Committee

Chair would make decisions subject to a veto by at least three

members of the Committee, including at least two faculty members.

The file would then be sent to the full Committee for consideration.

135 As expected, minority students protested the

proposal as yet another step toward denying students meaningful

input in the admissions process. In response, Varat compromised

and asked that his proposal be implemented only for “clearly admissible”

students – those whose college grades and LSAT

score are higher than some predetermined level. The Coalition

argued that given the 40 percent diversity goal, students with

good grades and LSAT scores would be displacing, without committee

review, the more disadvantaged students and students

who aspired to work in the community.136 Despite the students’

arguments, the faculty approved Varat’s proposal in January

1982.137 This change not only eliminated student input as to the

“clearly admissible” diversity students, but it also reflected the

desire of a growing number of professors to place greater emphasis

on academic criteria rather than on considerations of disadvantage

or community service.

G. Diversity Admissions and the Bar Passage Problem, 1982-

1987

Since Dean Prager’s appointment in 1982, UCLA has taken

several steps to improve the academic performance and bar passage

rates of diversity students. In January of 1983, the law

school hired Kristine Knaplund to design and teach what has ~ecome

one of the largest academic support programs among the

nation’s law schools. In the spring of 1985, the school also added

a special voluntary section of Legal Research and Writing which

132. ld.

133. Id.

134. ld. at 1.

135. ld.

136. Lizardo, supra note 113, at 78.

137. Riegelhaupt, supra note 131, at 1, 6.

114 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

was designed primarily for diversity students to improve their

studying and test-taking skills. In 1986, Dean Prager initiated a

two-week summer orientation program for incoming diversity

students.138

But many faculty members remained concerned about the

academic qualifications of the diversity students. Their concern

focused on UCLA’s California bar passage rate, which fell from

69.7 percent in 1982 to 61.4 percent in 1986. The 1986 figure

ranked UCLA behind Stanford, Boalt, Davis, and Hastings, and

equal to USC.139 It should be noted that during these years, California’s

bar passage rates were dropping at all schools, and

UCLA had ranked fifth among California’s law schools in 1982

as well. Nonetheless, the faculty focused on the low bar passage

rates, which had been a problem since the beginning of UCLA’s

affirmative action efforts.

Moreover, the number of affirmative action students at

UCLA had almost doubled with the adoption of the diversity admissions

program. While this doubling was due in part to the

admission of white “affirmative action” students, these students

were doing about as poorly as the minority diversity students on

the California bar examination.140 Thus, the adoption of the diversity

approach had doubled the number of students with relatively

low bar passage rates, which lowered the overall school

rate correspondingly.

UCLA’s low bar passage rates created a potential drop in

the law school’s prestige. Dean Prager feared that the widely

publicized bar passage rates might reduce the quality of the entire

student body.t4t She cited student fears that UCLA was not

preparing students well enough for the bar examination.142

Moreover, UCLA alumni were calling Dean Prager to complain

about the poor bar statistics. They apparently questioned why

UCLA, generally considered to be among the top 20 law schools

in the country, was doing so poorly on the California bar exam.

Given the fact that potential employers and faculty members

across the country may have been asking similar questions, it is .

likely that the UCLA faculty was becoming increasingly apprehensive

about the school’s reputation.

138. Magavem, supra note 3, at 33.

139. Memorandum from Kristine Knaplund, Professor of Law at the UCLA

School of Law, to Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, and Carole

Goldberg-Ambrose, Associate Dean of the UCLA School of Law attachment A

(Apr. 2, 1987) (on file with LRLSA).

140. Jd.

141. Letter from Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, to the Faculty

(Mar. 4, 1987) (on file with LRLSA).

142. Jd.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 115

Meanwhile, there were several legal challenges to the California

bar exam for its consistent disparate impact against racial

minorities. Several law schools, including UCLA, also began to

publicly criticize the State Bar for setting the bar passage requirement

too high, which resulted in otherwise qualified applicants

. – particularly minority applicants – who were passing in

most other jurisdictions but were being denied the opportunity to

practice in California.143

In 1987, UCLA decided to make significant changes in their

admissions, retention, and academic support policies to address

the bar passage issue. On March 4, 1987, Dean Prager issued a

letter to the faculty to initiate discussion on these issues.144 She

wrote, “I believe, as I think the large majority of the faculty believes,

that we should continue to take risks in our admissions in

order to further our priority of bringing more minority lawyers

into the profession. “145 However, she expressed grave concern

that “we are graduating a significant number of people who do

not have a meaningful chance” of passing the California. bar.146

For the years 1982 to 1984, the first-time California bar passage

rate ranged from 26 to 41 percent for diversity students,147 while

non-diversity students, for the years 1982-86, maintained strong

rates that ranged between 86 to 90 percent.148

The Coalition charged that the administration and faculty

were scapegoating minorities for their failure to properly prepare

students to pass the bar. They called for more effective tutorials

and support programs designed to increase the bar passage rate

of minority students.149 To support their arguments, they compared

the bar passage rates of diversity students with those of

minority students at the University of San Francisco and Southwestern

University, who had similar median college grades and

LSAT scores in 1985.

143. Monica Bay, Educators: Bar Exam Too Tough, THE REcoRDER, Apr. 8,

1986, at 1.

144. Prager, supra note 141.

145. Id.

146. Id.

147. Memorandum from Carole Goldberg-Ambrose, Associate Dean of the

UCLA School of Law, and Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, to the

Faculty (Apr. 2, 1987) (on file with LRLSA).

148. Letter from Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, to UCLA law

students (Apr. 13, 1987) (on file with LRLSA).

149. See, e.g., Letter from LRLSA, to Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School

of Law (Feb. 2, 1988) (on file with LRLSA).

116 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW (Vol.16:90

1985 MEDIAN UNDERGRADUATE GRADE PoiNT AVERAGE

(UGPA) AND LSAT FOR UCLA DIVERSITY STUDENTS,

UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO STUDENTS, AND

SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS.1so

UCLA Diversity

Univ. -of San Francisco

Southwestern

Median UGPA

3.0

3.1

3.0

Median LSAT

34

34

33

FIRST-TIME JuLY BAR PASSAGE RATES FOR UCLA DIVERSITY

STUDENTS, UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO STUDENTS, AND

SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS.1s1

UCLA, All students

UCLA Diversity

Univ. of S.F.

Southwestern

1982

78%

41%

61%

47o/o

1983 1984 1985

72% 63% 68%

32% 26o/o 37%

71% 54 o/o 49%

45% 43o/o 52%

1986

72%

30%

54%

57o/o

These statistics suggest that diversity students with relatively low

grades and LSAT scores should, with adequate preparation, be

passing the California bar at higher rates. However, some faculty

members saw little value in academic support and other pedagogical

reforms.

The faculty, after considering a range of options, focused on

two alternative proposals on admissions. The first was for the

faculty to make no changes to admissions policies until the law

school initiated new support programs and evaluated their effectiveness.

152 The second – which was adopted and remains in

effect to date- was for diversity students to be admitted by the

Assistant Dean of Admissions in consultation with the Chair of

the Admissions Committee, pursuant to policies prescribed by

the faculty and Admissions Committee as set forth in the Karst

Report.153

Student activists vehemently opposed this move to centralize

decision-making power in the Assistant Dean, which would dramatically

reduce student input in admissions. For example, the

La Raza Law Students Association protested:

As Latinos, we are in the best position to define our own ethnic

community and to gauge each applicant’s potential for future

community involvement. We do not believe that the

150. Knaplund, supra note 139.

151. Id.

152. Memorandum from the Short-Tenn Committee to Faculty and Students 6

(Apr. 16, 1987) (on file with LRLSA).

153. Id.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 117

current Assistant Dean of Admissions, or any single individual,

is capable of making these determinations for us.154

Although students had no voting power on admissions matters,

their representatives on the reading teams allowed them to serve

as checks on faculty discretion, and in many cases, to persuade

faculty committee members to change their votes.tss

A minority of professors supported the students. Professor

Letwin argued:

The 40 percent admissions standards are phrased very broadly;

and there is no fixed number to be admitted, only a ceiling. In

short, the process seems highly discretionary, and the values of

those who apply the standards may have a broad effect on the

admissions pattern. I would rather those values be those of a

cross-section of the faculty, as now, than those of the assistant

dean.”156

However, many professors opposed any significant student

input in the admissions process because they felt that students

neither had any special insights into the applicants and their

backgrounds, nor could they better predict which students would

serve underserved communities. Such sentiments were shared

among many members of the faculty, despite their own ethnic

and racial backgrounds. For example, one African American

professor felt that “the range of possible minority community

contributions a lawyer can make is so great, that it is impossible

to make valid long-range assessments on the basis of a short interview

by anyone.” In particular, he dismissed a student’s ability

to determine how a lawyer can contribute to the community

by stating, “Most students do not learn what lawyers really do

until they get out of law school. “157

Mutual distrust among student protesters and the faculty

had reached a peak. Many faculty members anticipated student

protests against anything that they were going to do, no matter

how reasonable. Many students feared that the faculty was using

the bar passage problem as an excuse to undermine UCLA’s

commitment to minority admissions.tss

Students had several reasons to question the administration

and faculty’s commitment to addressing student concerns about

admissions. Frrst, many students felt betrayed by Dean Prager,

who had told students earlier in the year that she had no plans to

154. Letter from LRLSA, supra note 149, at 4.

155. Memorandum from the Diversity Coalition to the Faculty 13 (Apr. 22,

1987).

156. Memorandum from Leon Letwin to the Short-Thrm Committee (Apr. 13,

1987) (on file with LRlSA). .

157. Alleyne, supra note 32, at 2.

158. Kenneth Kimmell, On Diversity, Student Input and Due Process, UCLA

DAILY BRUIN, Apr. 20, 1987, at 7.

118 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vo1.16:90

call for admissions policy changes that school year.Is9 Second,

students also protested that the proposed changes were being reviewed

in such a short time, without adequate opportunities for

student input. Finally, the students charged that scheduling the

final faculty vote three days before the semester’s end, with final

exams imminent, indicated the administration and faculty’s bad

faith in working with students.I6o

Despite the fact that final exams were only a week away, the

Third World Coalition, working with the National Lawyers

Guild, the Lesbian and Gay Law Students Association, and the

Public Interest Law Foundation, devoted long hours to protest

the proposed change. They prepared position papers, held ralM

lies, and received support from elected officials, judges, and

other prominent members of the local community. They sought

to postpone any major admissions policy changes until a more

thorough evaluation of the bar passage problem could be made.

When it looked like the faculty’s decision was imminent, the

minority student groups debated a more dramatic and desperate

move. APILSA voted to occupy the Records Office; BLSA

voted not to; and La Raza was deadlocked.161 On April 28, 14

APILSA and 6 La Raza students occupied the Records Office

and barricaded themselves inside, while a large crowd of students

gathered outside in support. After occupying the office for about

three hours, the campus police came in riot gear and arrested

fifteen of the student protesters.t62

In spite of the students’ desperate move, on May 1, 1987, the

faculty vested the centralization of admissions decisionMmaking

power in the Assistant Dean of Admissions. At the same time,

159. See Letter from Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, to UCLA

law students 2 (Apr. 13, 1987). In her letter, Dean Prager states:

While I did not envision changes being adopted in the admissions system

this year and I indicated to some student representatives in February and

early March that I did not intend to press for admissions changes this year,

the only commitment that I made was that no changes would be made in

the admissions of the 1987 entering class.

Id.; Jane Newman, The Diversity Struggle: Brief Chronology of Events, THE

DoCKET, Oct. 1987, at 11.

160. See, e.g., Reid Honjiyo, Law School Must Not Give Up Fairness Towards

Minorities, UCLA DAILY BRUIN, Apr. 13, 1987, at 5.

161. Interview with Reid Honjiyo, in Los Angeles, Cal (Feb. 3, 1992), cited in Ng,

supra note 46, at 25. According to Tammy Chung, one of the protestors who occupied

the Records Office, BLSA members did not participate because of their fear of

police brutality stemming from the history of police brutality against African Americans.

Id.

162. Henry Tovmassian, Fifteen Law Students A”ested in Records Office Sit-in,

THE DOCKET, Aug. 1987, at 5.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 119

they also voted to increase the funding of academic support programs

and raised academic probation and retention standards.163

H. Recent Developments, 1988-1994

Once again, despite student fears to the contrary, UCLA’s

minority enrollment did not drop after the 1987 policy changes.

However, the role of the minority student groups in the admissions

process had been significantly reduced, with Assistant

Dean Rappaport and the Admissions Committee Chair essentially

holding all decision-making power on diversity admissions.

To protest the new admissions system, La Raza withdt:ew from

all recruiting, interviewing, and admissions activities in 1988, and

BLSA followed suit in 1989, leaving only APILSA participating

in the process.164 However, both La Raza and BLSA resumed

participation shortly thereafter, resigned to the belief that some

input in the process was better than none.t6s

While the size of diversity admissions has not changed significantly,

the underlying philosophy has changed. There is now

more focus on producing competent lawyers and less concern

about what they will do as lawjrers. Also, there is a general sense

that law school should do little to compensate for the educational,

economic, and other socioeconomic disadvantages that

students have faced prior to attending law school.166

I. The Current State of Diversity Admissions, 1994

Today, Assistant Dean Rappaport, in consultation with the

Chair of the Admissions Committee, essentially makes all decisions

as to who is admitted under the diversity program, a group

which now comprises about forty percent of every entering class.

Rappaport describes himself as an administrator who only implements

the faculty’s admissions policies, particularly those set

forth in the Karst Report. However, students who have worked

with Assistant Dean Rappaport insist that he has broad discretion

to decide which diversity factors listed in the Karst Report

will receive more weight than others.t67

163. Letter from Susan Prager, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, to UCLA law

students 1-2 (May 4, 1987). .

164. Adriene Rodriguez, Introduction, Speech at the UCLA School of Law

(Mar. 30, 1988), in 9 CHICANO L. REv. 73 {1988).

165. Memorandum from LRLSA Admissions Chair to the La Raza Admissions

Subcommittee 1 (Feb. 27, 1992) (on file with LRLSA); Vincent Sarmiento, Raza

Admissions at the UCLA School of Law: An Update on Cu”ent Policies and Recent

Developments, 14 CHICANO-LATINO L. REv. 161, 166 (1994).

166. Magavern, supra note 3, .at 42.

167. Interview with Michael Balaoing, APILSA Admissions Representative,

1992-93, in Los Angeles, Cal. (May 1, 1994).

120 CHICANO-LA·TINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

Rappaport does refer some cases for consideration to the

full Admissions Committee, but he continues to feel that there

are relatively few cases where faculty and student input is helpful.

According to Rappaport, La Raza gives him guidance on

ethnic identity issues, while APILSA helps him choose among

Asian American applicants with similar scores and backgrounds.

For African American applicants, according to Rappaport, identity

is less of an issue and the pool of qualified candidates is relatively

small, so he needs less assistance in choosing among

them.168

While the Karst Report lists economic disadvantage as one

of its diversity admissions criteria, Rappaport does not seem to

give much weight to it. Rather, he places overriding emphasis on

grades and LSAT scores for both regular and diversity admissions.

Rappaport considers disadvantage primarily to discern

whether the applicant’s grades and LSAT may not fully reveal

the applicant’s academic potential.t69

Rappaport claims that no significant policy change is foreseeable

for Asian American diversity applicants, despite the continuing

ambivalence of a significant number of faculty members.

His method is to require diversity factors other than race to justify

diversity admissions consideration for each Asian American

ethnic group. Thus, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean applicants –

more of whom are being admitted under regular admissions –

need diversity characteristics other than their ethnicity, such as

an immigrant background and language skills, whereas Filipinos,

Vietnamese, and other underrepresented Asian ethnic groups

need less consideration of other diversity factors.170

In making admissions determinations, Rappaport consults

with the Admissions Committee Chair and the Dean, while talking

informally with other faculty members. For example, Dean

Prager feels that diversity white students should have qualifications

very close to those of the regular admittees. The admission

of white diversity students is less an important end in itself than a

way to preserve minority enrollment after Bakke.111 In response

to this philosophy, Rappaport states that he is decreasing the

numbers and increasing the academic qualifications of white diversity

students. For example, he states that a low-income back-

168. See also Sarmiento, supra note 165. According to Sarmiento, who served as

La Raza admissions representative during 1991-92, La Raza’s net impact on the admissions

process during 1991-92 was “negligible at best.” Jd.

169. Interview with Michael Balaoing, supra note 167.

170. Magavem, supra note 3, at 40.

171. ld

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 121

ground will add little to a white applicant’s chances of acceptance

unless the poverty was fairly extreme.tn

Thus, after debating admissions policies with students for

over 25 years, most faculty members have withdrawn from the

process, seemingly satisfied with the current process of delegating

admissions duties almost exclusively to the Assistant Dean of

Admissions. The history of affirmative action struggles at UCLA

clearly indicates a trend toward emphasizing prevailing measures

of academic ability, reducing concerns related to socioeconomic

disadvantage, and maintaining skepticism over attempts to predict

which applicants are likely to serve disadvantaged communities.

This history also has shown the faculty’s increasing

apprehension over giving students the power to influence admissions

policy decision-making. Every year, a small group of students

advocates for an admissions program for disadvantaged

and service-oriented students. However, the experiences of the

last 25 years seems to have left the majority of the faculty resigned

to the current compromise between attracting the “best

and the brightest” and continuing the institution’s commitment

to promote racial diversity in the legal profession.

III. A CRITIQUE OF UCLA LAW SCHOOL’S CURRENT

ADMISSIONS POLICY

A. An Overview of the Current Admissions Policy

UCLA Law School’s current admissions policy allows for

about forty percent of every entering class to be admitted under

the diversity program. Diversity admits are applicants with competitive

college grades and LSAT scores who also possess one or

more characteristics (e.g., race, disability) or experiences (e.g.,

work experience, living abroad) that are considered to bring diversity

to the student body and thereby enhance the law school

learning atmosphere. Among candidates for diversity admissions

with similar backgrounds, those with the highest grades and

LSAT scores are admitted. The remaining 60 percent of every

class is admitted strictly on the basis of the predictive index. Applicants

with the highest predictive indices (basically, the highest

college grades and LSAT scores) are automatically offered admission

to the law school. This 60/40 breakdown between regular

and diversity admits is the admissions office’s general goal,

with the actual breakdown varying from year to year.

172. Id.

122 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

B. Critique of UCLA Law Admissions as Public Policy

Decisions

UCLA Law School’s primary reliance on college grades and

LSAT scores to allocate limited admission slots can be critiqued

as a normative choice.173 In these times of highly competitive law

school admissions, law schools are rejecting thousands of applicants

who would otherwise be able to successfully complete law

school. As former American Bar Association (ABA) President

Chesterfield Smith once observed, “Law school admission officers,

rather than bar examiners, are in large measure picking

our future lawyers. “174 Most American lawyers and judges practicing

today would never have been admitted to law school if

they had been competing under the inflated standards which now

govern admissions.175 This also holds true for UCLA Law

School, where the number of applications for admission has

skyrocketed in recent years.t76

As a public institution, UCLA’s admissions policy should reflect

public policy decisions on how to allocate taxpayer-subsidized

educational opportunities. As UCLA Professor Kenneth

Graham states:

In exercising its delegated power to decide who to admit to the

Law School, the faculty is making a choice of public policy.

The decision of who to admit to a public law school should be

related to the reasons that justify the existence of publiclyfunded

legal education in a state that already has an abundance

of non-public law schools and no shortage of lawyers.

Given the fact that anyone who can pay for it can obtain a

legal education in California, our admissions decisions are less

a question of who can be a lawyer in California and more a

question of which lawyers shall have their legal education subsidized

by California taxpayers.t77

The UCLA law administration and faculty deserves recognition

for its commitment to promote racial diversity among its stu-

173. See, e.g., David E. VanZandt, Merit at the Right TaiL· Education and Elite

Law School Admission, 64 TEx. L. REv. 1493 (1986) (reviewing RoBERT KurGAARD,

CHOOSING ELITES (1985)).

174. LAw SCHooL ADMISSIONS CoUNCIL, 1973 ANNUAL CouNCIL REPORT, at 70

(1974).

175. Barbara Lerner, Equal Protection and External Screening: Davis, DeFunis,

and Bakke, 1977 PR.oc. ETS INVITATIONAL CoNF. 3, 6.

176. For example, the enrolling class of 1961 had an average LSAT percentile

ranking of 70 percent, while the enrolling class of 1967 had a mean LSAT percentile

ranking of 86 percent. Assistant Dean, Memorandum to Faculty Re: Class of 1969

Statistics, Feb. 23, 1967. In comparison, regular admittees of the enrolling class of

1993 had an average LSAT percentile ranking of 96 percent. Source: UCLA School

of Law Admissions Office.

177. Interview with Kenneth Graham, ·supra note 23. In 1993, there were 16

ADA-approved California law schools, of which 4 are public, and 19 California law

schools not approved by the ABA.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 123

dents and in the legal profession. UCLA was one of the first law

schools in the country to establish an affirmative action program,

and the school has maintained its commitment to racial diversity

over the last 25 years, despite the growing public disfavor with

affirmative action. In recent years, UCLA’s minority enrollment

level follows only the historically black universities and the University

of Hawaii.11s

However, over the same 25 years, UCLA has significantly

diminished its earlier efforts to promote economic diversity

among its students, and to admit more students who wish to

serve disadvantaged communities. This lack of commitment to

class diversity and service to disadvantaged communities is related

to the law school’s admissions standards and its increasing

emphasis on college grades and the LSAT. This emphasis is applied

not only to the school’s regular admittees, but also to their

affirmative action students.

C. The Validity of Grades and the LSAT as Measures of

Academic Merit

There has been much debate since the early 1970s as to the

validity of college grades and LSAT scores as objective measures

of academic merit. The most common justification for using

these measures is that LSAT scores and college grades have been

useful in predicting first year law school grades.179 UCLA has

conducted several studies which have been used to support the

validity of these predictors. tao

However, other studies criticize the poor to moderate predictive

ability of grades and the LSAT.181 The more common

178. Stephen D. Simon, UCLAW Receives Diversity Award, THE DOCKET, Feb,

1993, at 1.

179. Law School Admissions Services, THE LAw SCHOOL ADMISSIONs TEsT:

SouRCES, CoNTENTS, UsES (Sept. 1991), at 5 (“(The] LSAT is designed to perform

… the task of predicting academic success in the first year of law school.”). See also

Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education, SELEcnvE ADMISSION IN

HIGHER EDUCATION: CoMMENT AND RECOMMENDATIONS AND Two REPORTS,

(San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 19TI). For general studies, see George L. Dawson, Use

of the Law School Admission Test to Predict First Year Law School Performance: An

Update, B. EXAMINER, May 1988, at 35, 38-39; Donald E. Powers, Long-term Predictive

and Construct Validity of 1Wo Traditional Predictors of Law School Performance,

14 J. Eouc. PsYCH. 568, 569 (1982).

180. Memorandum from Kristine Knaplund, Professor of Law at the UCLA

School of Law to Michael Rappaport, Assistant Dean of Admissions (Feb. 11, 1987).

181. An LSACsponsored study, after reviewing the results of fifty-seven different

validity studies, concluded, “Not surprisingly, admissions directors at many

schools have found that, for the great majority of their students, grades and LSAT

scores are not very closely related to actual first year performance.” Albert R.

‘Thmbull, WilliamS. McKee, and L. Thomas Galloway, LAw SCHOOL ADMissioNS:

A DESCRIPI1VB STUDY, in LAw SCHooL ADMISSION CoUNCIL, REPoRTS OF LSAC

SPONSORED RESEARCH: VOLUME ll, 1970-74, 265 (1976).

124 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 16:90

criticism of the reliance on grades and the LSAT is that these

indicators are correlated more to an applicant’s economic background

and race than to any objective notion of academic merit.

The LSAT score has a very high correlation with the socioeconomic

status of an applicant’s family.182 This correlation is magnified

at schools like UCLA, where the admissions office

calibrates an applicant’s college grade point average according to

the LSAT mean of all LSAT test-takers from the applicant’s college.

183 Meanwhile, there is an ongoing debate as to whether the

LSAT is culturally biased.184 However, supporters of the predictive

index distinguish correlation from causation. Most attribute

differences in grades and LSAT scores among different groups to

the persistent realities of unequal educational opportunities

available to students of different race and class origins in this

country. Perhaps others continue to believe that the wealthy and

the white are simply smarter and work harder.

Aside from the causes of disparities in academic performance,

the fact is that admissions decisions based solely on grades

and the LSAT negatively impact people of color. UCLA admissions

statistics in recent years clearly indicate that if the law

school were to rely primarily on grades and the LSAT for admissions,

the student body would be overwhelmingly white. In general,

UCLA’s white students have significantly higher college

grades and LSAT scores than the students of color, although a

182. Franklin R. Evans and Donald A. Rock, A Study of the Effects of Moderator

Variables on the Prediction of Law School Performance, in LAw SCHOOL ADMISSION

CoUNCIL, REPORTS OF LSAC SPONSORED REsEARCH: VoLUME n, 1970-74, 357

(1976). See also ALLAN NAIRN AND AssociATES, THE REIGN OF ETS: THE RA1..PH

NADER REPORT ON THE EDUCATIONAL TEsTING SERVICE 220-259 (1980).

183. Evans and Rock, supra note 182 (The schools whose students systematically

scored lowest on the LCM were the ones where students had the lowest incomes.

Some entire classes of schools – such as the predominantly black colleges – had

their grades systematically valued as inferior by the LCM.); See also NAIRN, supra

note 182, at 247 (citing Guide to the Interpretation of Undergraduate Transcripts

(LSAC Nov. 1972)).

184. See, e.g., TOWARDS A DIVERSIFIED LEGAL PROFESSION: AN INQUIRY INTO

THE LAw SCHooL ADMISSION TEsT, GRADE INFLATION, AND CuRRENT ADMissioNs

PouCIES (David M. White ed., 1981); LLoYD BoND, BIAs IN MENTAL TEsTs,

IN IssuEs IN TEsTING: CoACHING, DisCLosuRE, AND ETHNic BIAs (Bert F. Green,

ed., 1981); David M. White, National Conference of Black Lawyers, The Effects of

Coaching, Defective Questions, and Cultural Bias on the Validity of the Law School

Admission Test (1984); Cecil R. Reynolds and Robert T. Brown, BIAs IN MENTAL

TEsTING: AN INTRODUcriON TO THE ISSUES, IN, PERSPECTIVES ON BIAS IN MENTAL

TEsTING 1, (Cecil R. Reynolds and Robert T. Brown, eds., 1984); David M. White,

Culturally Biased Testing and Predictive Invalidity: Putting Them on the Record, 14

HARv. C.R.-C.L. L. REv. 89 (1979); David M. White, Pride, Prejudice and Prediction:

From Brown to Bakke and Beyond, 22 HowARD L. J. 375 (1979); David A.

Weber, Racial Bias and the LSAT: A New Approach to the Defense of Preferential

Admissions, 29 BUFFALO L. REv. 439 (1975); and Edward Bronson, Trial by Numbers:

The LSAT and Cultural Bias, 34 GUILD PRAc. 33 (1977).

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 125

·growing number of Asian American students are being admitted

with comparable records.

Despite the problematic nature of formula admissions based

strictly on grades and the LSAT, another common reason why

law schools rely on them is simply that this approach is easy and

cost-efficient. Given the thousands of law school applications

that understaffed admissions offices face each year, the pressure

is strong to rely on mechanical and computerized decision-maleing

processes. Even the Law School Admissions Council, which

administers the LSAT, is critical of admission decisions based

solely on grades and the LSAT.1ss

D. Using Bar Passage Rates to Justify the Use of the Predictive

Index

Another justification for the reliance on college grades and

the LSAT is their usefulness in predicting law school grades,

which in tum have been fairly accurate predictors of bar passage

rates. Some UCLA faculty members have argued that public law

school resources should not be squandered by educating students

who have little chance of passing the California bar, so these students

should not be admitted into the law school.

While law school grades by race were not available to the

author, available bar passage statistics clearly indicate that

UCLA diversity students had tremendous difficulties in passing

the California bar exam during the 1980s. These difficulties indic~

te an undetermined degree of correlation between their academic

records prior to law school and their bar passage rates.

DIVERSITY STUDENT BAR PASSAGE RATES, 1982-1985.186

Graduating aass

1982

1983

1984

1985

Frrst-time CA Bar

Passage Rate

41

32

25.8

36.6

CA Bar for

Repeat Exam Takers

69 (for 1-9 attempts)

57.6 (for 1-7 attempts)

62 (for 1-5 attempts)

51.6 {for 1-3 attempts)

Relevant statistics are also available for minority graduates

of California’s American Bar Association-accredited law schools.

For first-time July California bar exam takers from the state’s

ABA-accredited schools, minority students consistently passed at

185. Thrnbull, et al., supra note 181.

186. Memorandum from Kristine Knaplund, Professor of Law at the UCLA

School of Law, and Susan Praser, Dean of the UCLA School of Law, to the Faculty

attachment B (Apr. 2, 1987) (on file with LRLSA).

126 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 16:90

lower rates than white students from 1977 through 1988.187 According

to one study, virtually all disparities in bar exam scores

and passing rates among groups can be explained by differences

in their law school grades.tss

However, defenders of law school affirmative action efforts

emphasize that the primary concern should be whether students

who wish to practice in California eventually pass the bar, not

that they pass on their first try. The eventual passing rate of minorities

is much higher than the passing rate among its first-time

takers. Most students of color eventually pass.1~

Meanwhile, numerous legal challenges have been raised

against the California bar examination for being racially or culturally

biased.190 During the 1970s, legal claims of intentional or

inherent racial discrimination directed at bar exams and bar examiners

reached its peak.191 Studies on such claims remain inconclusive,

and the legal challenges have failed thus far.

E. College Grades and the LSAT are Poor Predictors of

Success as Lawyers

Aside from the debate as to whether college grades and the

LSAT are useful predictors of bar passage rates, these measures

are widely criticized for having little correlation to the likelihood

of success in the legal profession.192 For example, they may not

accurately assess such critical factors as motivation, maturity,

187. Stephen P. Klein, Disparities in Bar Exam Passing Rates Among RaciaVEthnic

Groups: Their Size, Source, and Implications, 16 T. MARSHALL L. REv., 516,519

(1991).

188. Id. at 523 (Based on one’s law school grades alone, “it is possible to predict

with about 79% accuracy whether a candidate will pass the California exam.”); See

also Donald E. Powers, Differential Trends in Law Grades of Minority and Nonminority

Law Students, 76 J. EDuc. PsYCHo. 488, 488-89 (1984); Donald E. Powers,

Comparing Predictions of Law School Performance for Black, Chicano, and White

Law Students, LAw SCHOOL ADMISSION CoUNCIL, REPORTS OF LSAC SPONSORED

REsEARCH: VOLUME III, 1975-1977,721 (1977); Robert L. Linn, Test Bias and the

Prediction of Grades in Law School, 27 J. LEGAL EDuc. 293 (1975).

189. Klein, supra note 186, at 526-527.

190. See, e.g., Pettit v. Gingerich, 427 F. Supp. 282, 290 (1977). (Plaintiffs allege

that the examination is inherently discriminatory or culturally biased against blacks

as evidenced by the disproportionately high black failure rate.); Symposium: The

Minority Candidate and the Bar Examination, 5 BLACK L.J. 120, 128 (1977). (Keynote

speaker, Lennox S. Hinds, suggests that the difference in bar performance between

minority and white candidates is most likely the result of cultural bias or racist

practices in the bar examination process rather than any difference in their respective

skills and knowledge.)

191. See generally National Conference of Bar Examiners, THE BAR EXAMINERS

HANDBOOK, 18 (S. Duhl ed., 2d ed. 1980), at 35-49.

192. See, e.g., SusAN E. BRoWN, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION

FuND, LAw SCHooL ADMISSIONS STUDY 37 (1980); Andrew Hacker, The

Shame of Professional Schools, 32 J. LEGAL EDuc. 278, 281 (1982); and Peter J.

Liacouras, Toward a Fair and Sensible Policy for Professional School Admission, 1

CRoss REFERENCE 156 (1978).

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 127

commitment to client or community interests, business savvy, or

counseling and negotiating skills.193

As civil rights advocates have successfully argued in the employment

discrimination context, many believe that the use of

standardized tests like the LSAT should be justified only if the

tests measure traits relevant to the legal profession.194 For example,

when Leon Letwin established the LEOP program to train

lawyers to serve disadvantaged communities, he emphasized that

traditional criteria like the LSAT were not designed to address

the problems of low-income minority communities, and suggested

that community leadership, tenacity, and identification

with the community may be more valued criteria for LEOP

admittees.19s

F. UCLA’s Emphasis on Grades and the LSAT Results in a

Disparate Impact Against the Socioeconomically

Disadvantaged

Recent surveys of UCLA law students also illustrate how

the admissions office’s emphasis on grades and the LSAT has

had a disparate impact on socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Surveys of incoming members of the classes of 1993 and

1994 found that the median income of students’ parents was

$75,000 in 1990, with over a third of students’ parents earning

incomes over $100,000.196 In contrast, the median income of all

families in the U.S. was $35,700 in 1990, while the corresponding

median income in Los Angeles was $38,000.197 Roughly half of

UCLA students come from families in the top 10 percent of the

national income distribution, while only 20 percent come from

families in the bottom half.198 These findings are consistent with

studies done at other law schools since 1961, showing that the

“eliteness” of law students seems consistent over time and

geography .199

The surveys also found that the parents of students represent

even more of an educational elite than an economic one.

Among those participating in the UCLA survey, 45 percent of

students’ fathers and 21 percent of students’ mothers had graduate

degrees, as compared to about 8 percent of all American men

193. See, e.g., LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS CoUNCIL, supra note 174, at 71; Letwin,

supra note 5, at 11.

194. See, e.g., Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971).

195. Birmingham, supra note 39, at 1, 4.

196. Rick Sander, Another Side of Diversity, THE DoCKET, Feb. 1994, at 1.

197. /d.

198. /d.

199. /d. at 4; Robert Stevens, Law Schools and Law Students, 59 VA. L. REV.

551, 572 (1973).

128 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 16:90

and 3.5 percent of all American women of their generation.2oo

Over 68 percent of students’ fathers and 54 percent of students’

mothers had bachelor degrees. In comparison, in the general

population, only 22 percent of the men and 13.5 percent of the

women of the parents’ generation are college graduates. Again,

this finding of educational eliteness is consistent with past

studies. 201

Finally, the surveys also suggest that the socioeconomic

eliteness of its law students holds true across racial lines. The

median income of non-white students responding to the survey

was about $60,000, about 20 percent lower than the school-wide

median, but nonetheless, still much higher than the corresponding

figure in the general population. Moreover, close to half of

the African American, Latino, and Asian American students

who participated in the survey come from families whose income

places them among the most affluent 10 percent of all non-white

families in the United States.2o2

The relatively privileged socioeconomic backgrounds of

UCLA law students may come as no surprise. Disadvantaged

students of all races face tremendous economic, educational, and

other obstacles that they must overcome in order to get to the

point of applying to law school. Students of color who graduate

from high school, enter college, and graduate are members of a

very small group within the minority youth population.203 Financial

hardships are likely to undermine a student’s undergraduate

academic record. Moreover, disadvantaged minorities who attend

predominantly white colleges experience subtle cultural influences

that create a sense of alienation and undermine their

motivation, particularly if they come from dramatically different

backgrounds than most of their college peers. Succeeding in academics

against these obstacles is a tremendous and truly exceptional

accomplishment for students of any race.

G. UCLA Should Make a Greater Commitment to Admit

Students from Economically Disadvantaged

Backgrounds

To make law schools more representative of the economic as

well as racial diversity in our society, the admissions office should

200. Memorandum from Rick Sander, Professor of Law at the UCLA School of

Law, to the Faculty 2 (Jan. 11, 1991).

201. ld. at 4.

202. Id. at 4.

203. In 1990, the high school graduation rate for Latinos was 54.5 percent; for

African Americans, 77 percent; and for whites, 82.5 percent. Among those who

graduated from high school, in 1990, 29.1 percent of Latinos went to a two or fouryear

college, 33 percent of African Americans, and 39.4 percent of whites.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 129

make a stronger effort to admit disadvantaged students who possess

the basic academic ability necessary to· successfully complete

law school and pass the bar. Just as the law school has recognized

racial diversity as an admissions goal worthy of pursuit

along with academic excellence, class diversity should be similarly

recognized as an important goal.

There are particularly compelling reasons for admitting students

into law school who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The wisdom of a 1949 State Bar report still holds true

today:

Under our form of government, law is so closely related to

politics and to the operation of government that any barrier to

the legal profession which would keep out the economically

less fortunate would have serious political repercussions and

would ultimately impair the functioning of the democratic process.

Even with the road to the legal profession open to all, it

tends to become an essentially conservative group, largely

concerned with maintaining the social and economic status

quo. If the legal profession were to be recruited . . . mainly

from the sons and daughters of the well-to-do, this tendency

might well be accentuated to a degree seriously against the

public interest.204

To deny a person access to the legal profession, is to deny access

to judgeships and to significantly limit access to influential positions

in government, business, and politics. Almost two-thirds of

all United States Senators, almost one-half of Congressional representatives,

and about one-sixth of the nation’s state legislators

are lawyers.205

As a public institution, UCLA should be held to a heightened

obligation to train lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds

in order to provide more effective political and legal

representation of poor and working-class people. Lawyers who

have personally overcome many of the same obstacles that their

client community faces would be most familiar with the oppressive

conditions of poverty.

204. STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA, LEGAL EDUCATION AND ADMISSIONS TO ‘1HE

BAR IN CALIFORNIA: REPORT OF nm SPECIAL SURVEY BoARD at 82, (1949). It is

noteworthy that the 1949 California State Bar report recommended that the UCLA

School of Law offer a part-time division to make it more accessible to students who

can not afford a full-time legal education. The Report noted that “a relatively small

number of students, many of whom could well afford to pay tuition, are being given

legal education at public expense,” while “a very much larger number of students

who are compelled to support themselves through law school and therefore to go to

school at night are paying high rates of tuition in private institutions.” The Report

concluded, “If the provision of part-time professional instruction in law is a public

necessity, it is equally a public responsibility and should be publicly financed.” I d. at

84.

205. NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES, STATE LEGISLATORS’

OCCUPATION {1987).

130 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW (Vol. 16:90

For example, members of cultural and linguistic minorities

are more familiar with how cultural and language barriers tend to

inhibit members of their communities from consulting lawyers

not of their race or ethnicity when they are in need of legal services.

As former Harvard Law School Dean Erwin N. Griswold

has stated:

Minority law consumers frequently are able to relate better to

a member of their own race and are sometimes unwilling to

confide in a member of another race and, therefore, do not

utilize our legal system. Effective access to legal representation

not only must exist in fact, it must also be perceived by

the minority law consumer as existent so that recourse to law

for the redress of grievance and the settlement of disputes becomes

a realistic alternative to him.206

Dean Griswold’s observation found support in a 1988 survey

of UCLA’s Asian alumni, which compared LEOP and diversity

alumni with Asian Pacific Islander alumni who entered UCLA

under regular admissions.207 According to the survey, LEOP and

diversity alumni’s estimated percentage of minority clients

was almost two (1.8) times that of alumni who entered UCLA

through regular admissions.2os Moreover, LEOP/diversity

alumni’s percentage of low-income and working-class clients was

more than two and a half (2.7) times larger than that of the regular

admit alumni.209 Fmally, LEOP/diversity alumni’s percentage

of clients who required foreign language proficiency was more

than three (3.1) times larger than that of the regular admit

alumni.2to

UCLA can also promote the goal of community empowerment

by training people from disadvantaged communities to return

to their communities to serve as lawyers. In recent years,

poverty law practitioners and scholars have begun to emphasize

the importance of lawyer-activists who are part of the community

in which they serve, rather than those whose life experiences differ

from their client community.211 Having outsiders serve disadvantaged

communities only reinforces the sense of dependency

among subordinated people on the charity or benevolence of

206. Erwin N. Griswold, Some Observations on the DeFunis Case, 15 CoLUM. L.

REv. 512, 517 (1975).

207. Memorandum from the Asian Concerns Committee of the Japanese American

Bar Association, Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, Korean

American Bar Association, and the Philippine American Bar Association to the

Faculty of the UCLA School of Law (May 9, 1988).

208. ld.

209. Id.

210. Id.

211. See, e.g., GERALD L6PEZ, REBELLious LAWYERING: ONE CHICANO’s VISION

OF ~OGRESSIVE LAW PRAcnCE (1992).

1995) UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 131

government or elites, rather than encouraging them to take control

of their own affairs and work to improve their condition.

While those having more privileged backgrounds should be

encouraged to assist underserved communities, advocates of

community empowerment should work toward the admission of

more disadvantaged students who demonstrate an interest to return

to their communities as lawyer-activists.

H. UCLA should admit more students committed to serving

disadvantaged communities

As a public institution, the UCLA School of Law should not

only admit more economically disadvantaged students, but also

make a greater effort to train lawyers who will serve the disadvantaged.

In support of this idea, a 1980 ABA committee

formed for the study of legal education reported that perhaps too

much attention is being paid to grades and LSAT scores across

the range of law schools, without sufficient regard for other attributes

such as the desire to serve the disadvantaged.212 This

argument is particularly compelling for taxpayer-subsidized

schools like UCLA. Moreover, a law school can profoundly

mold student attitudes as to what are appropriate concerns and

values in the legal profession. These values are reflected by the

characteristics that a law school looks for in an applicant. UCLA

can actively encourage students to serve the underrepresented by

giving preferential status to applicants who have demonstrated

their commitment to public service prior to entering law school.

Without active encouragement, the pervasive law school culture

of working in corporate law firms will often deter even the

most committed student from entering into public service careers.

1)rpical of a nationally ranked law school, UCLA’s gradu-,

ates are overwhelmingly corporate law firm-oriented.213 While

UCLA’s employment statistics may not accurately reveal the

public service inclinations of graduates, these statistics nonetheless

illustrate the general corporate orientation of UCLA

students.

These employment statistics contradict the Karst Report’s

stated objective of promoting diverse career goals among its students.

Under the Karst Report, UCLA should be promoting diversity

in career aspirations by looking at not only an applicant’s

212. AMERICAN BAR AssoCIATION, SPECIAL CoMMITI’EE FOR A STUDY OF

LEGAL EDUCATION, LAw SOIOOLS AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION 29 (1980).

213. For example, the UCLA aass of 1993 was more or less typical of employment

trends in recent years. At the time of graduation, only 1.2 percent secured

public interest employment, while another 4.2 percent attained government positions.

Of the respondents, 67.5 percent accepted employment with private law finns

of more than 50 attorneys.

. 132 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vo1.16:90

self-proclaimed career goals, but also her community service record

prior to law school.214 Among those who defend the current

emphasis on grades and the LSAT, many focus on the difficulties

in attempting to predict whether an applicant will, after three

years of law school socialization and financial debt, continue to

pursue a· career serving the underrepresented. Several studies

have documented how the public service inclinations of entering

students tend to erode during law school. UCLA can survey

their students at different points in their law school years to discuss

this problem and to identify potential countermeasures to

the prevailing corporate orientation of the law school culture.

Some professors also complain that admissions criteria involving

community service tends to be ideologically loaded.

Their criticism can be addressed in two ways. First, the reliance

on grades and the LSAT for admissions decisions can similarly be

challenged for its ideological content. As discussed earlier, given

the existing realities of unequal educational opportunities along

race and class lines, the continued reliance on traditional measures

of academic performance merely perpetuates the privileged

status of the wealthy and white. Second, the Admissions Committee

and students should work together to establish guidelines

on the criteria that constitutes community service for admissions

purposes.

There are some who argue that public service goals should

be encouraged not by admissions, but by establishing mandatory

pro bono requirements, loan forgiveness programs, and curricular

and clinical programs geared toward public interest law. Such

efforts are also important. But it is logical to assume that such

programs are more likely to encourage UCLA graduates to serve

the underrepresented if these students demonstrate a predisposition

to such work prior to attending law school.

I. Are LEOP and diversity alumni more service-oriented than

other UCLA alumni?

Studies have shown that minorities and students from lowincome

backgrounds are more likely to cite service to the underprivileged

as a motivation for entering law school than other students.

215 This tendency was supported by the 1988 survey of

UCLA law school’s Asian and Pacific Islander American

alumni.216 According to the survey, LEOP/diversity alumni contributed

seven times more pro bono hours in the minority com-

214. Karst Report, supra note 102, at 4.

215. See, e.g., Robert Stevens, Law Schools and Law Students, 59 VA. L. REv.

551, 613-14 (1973).

216. Memorandum from the Asian Concerns Committee, supra note 207.

\.

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 133

munities, and almost four times (3.7) the amount of time in

minority civil or business organizations than their regular admit

counterparts.217 Moreover, LEOP/diversity alumni spent more

than one and a half (1.6} times the amount of time in ethnic bar

associations than their regular admit counterparts. 21s

These survey results can be interpreted in different ways.

Some may cite these findings to argue that the existing diversity

program is already doing enough to promote service to the underserved.

But a noteworthy fact is that the surveyed alumni all

attended UCLA before student input was dramatically reduced

in 1988. Thus, the commendable service record of these LEOP

and diversity alumni can be seen as the expected result of an earlier

admissions program that favored applicants who demonstrated

their commitment to community service.

J. Admissions decision.:.makers should be more representative

of the diversity which the law school seeks to promote.

To effectively accomplish the goals of admitting more disadvantaged

students who will return to serve their communities as

lawyers, those with the power to make admissions policy decisions

should include those who have personally experienced race

and class subordination. This proposal is based on the premise

that those who come from a particular community or background

are better qualified to determine who is likely to effectively serve

their communities.

In the early years of LEOP, Leon Letwin and other faculty

members who were instrumental in establishing LEOP were very

conscious of the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives

in the admissions decision-making process. Today, however,

Assistant Dean of Admissions Michael Rappaport holds

almost all decision-making power over diversity admissions.

Rappaport occasionally consults witlr the faculty Admissions

Committee chair on individual admissions cases. Thus, at least in

terms of public perception, minority participation in the admissions

process has been limited to the advisory roles served by the

student organizations.2t9

Rappaport defends his position by saying that he has a very

prescribed range of authority, and th~t he merely administers the

217. ld.

218. ld.

219. At UCLA School of Law, general policy decisions are made by faculty-student

committees. The Dean•s Advisory Committee, comprised of two Associate

Deans and three professors elected by the faculty, make all committee appointments,

including committee chair appointments. The Student Bar Association

makes all student committee appointments. Each committee has at least twice as

many faculty members as students.

134 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 16:90

policies that the faculty sets. Moreover, as the Assistant Dean of

Admissions since the early 1970s, Rappaport possesses an institutional

memory of past admissions debates, the law school, and

local communities. He cites the problem of inconsistency among

faculty and students in past admissions committee experiences,

and believes that faculty-student committees wasted a great

amount of time to arrive at an outcome that differed very little

from his own decisions. Finally, Rappaport criticized the inconsistent

levels of commitment and organization among the participating

minority organizations in the past.22o

As to the public perception of one man holding the power to

determine who is admitted through the diversity program, Rappaport

counters that the law school has tried a wide variety of

alternatives, with very little difference in results. Thus, he argues,

accommodating public perception would make little difference

at the expense of an enormous expenditure of time and

effort by faculty and students.221

Nonetheless, using efficiency as a primary justification, the

current approach gives the Assistant Dean tremendous discretion

in administering the broad guidelines of the Karst Report.

One former LRLSA admissions representative who worked extensively

with Rappaport criticized the Assistant Dean for

largely ignoring the Karst Report provisions which list economic

disadvantage and prior community service as diversity admissions

criteria, and for focusing primarily on an applicant’s predictive

index and race.222

K. Some strategies for change

Any proposed departure from the prevailing emphasis on

college grades and the LSAT is likely to meet significant resistance

from the faculty. Faculty members occupy their current positions

precisely because they excelled in the traditional system of

academic merit. To propose admissions criteria other than those

that they have excelled under would undermine their own legitimacy.

As Letwin states:

They have mastered the system as it now stands. Indeed they

owe their faculty status to their outstanding success as students

in the system. It has certified them as persons of considerable

distinction. They are children of the system, and it would be a

thankless child who now questioned the very standards that

proclaim his virtue. 223

220. Interview with Michael Rappaport, Assistant Dean of Student Admissions,

UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, Cal. (Feb. 15, 1994).

221. /d.

222. Sanniento, supra note 165, at 169.

223. Letwin, supra note 5, at 11.

I

1

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 135

Moreover, resistance is likely to come not only from the

faculty, but from all those with a vested interest in maintaining

UCLA’s prestige, including alumni and current students. It is

no secret that highly competitive admissions requirements translate

into prestige for law schools.224 The reputation of the student

body can affect a law school’s ability to recruit and hire

respectable or promising faculty members and the brightest students.

Prestige also translates into expanded career opportunities

for all those affiliated with UCLA. Even students and

alumni who entered UCLA through affirmative action have a

vested interest in having average grades, LSAT scores, and bar

passage rates rise, which translates into more value for their

UCLA degrees.

One UCLA professor commented on student demands for

greater diversity:

Some students think that if the law school became a thirdworld

law school it would still be the same law school, would

have the same faculty and the same high ranking in academic

circles. I doubt that any faculty member believes this. But no

faculty member wants to get caught up in a debate which

would require an open and complete response to the question

of why, even if the faculty remained the same (and it would

not), the law school would not be the same and the degree

offered would not mean as much to those receiving it; that

only the numbers of minority students receiving the degree

would change.225

Thus, it seems that any attempt to make UCLA admit more students

committed to work for the underserved would encounter

significant resistance from all those who have a vested interest in

maintaining UCLA’s reputation along the lines of “excellence

and diversity,” and not as a Third World school training community

lawyers.

Progressive students who seek to reform the current admissions

program must also assess the current political realities

outside the law school. The general political climate in the country

is clearly against affirmative action. Since the decision in

Bakke, the composition of the Supreme Court has changed, thus

clouding the future of affirmative action and the constitutionality

of UCLA’s diversity program.

Because of these concerns, some proponents of affirmative

action believe that they should not push forward now, for fear of

a conservative backlash that may undermine UCLA’s current ef-

224. See, e.g., Leo M. Romero, An Assessment of Affirmative Action in Law

School Admission After Fifteen Years: A Need for Recommitment, 34 J. LEGAL

Eouc. 430, 433 (1984).

225. Alleyne, supra note 45, at 3-4.

136 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

forts to promote racial diversity. Others, including myself, believe

that while such concerns are legitimate, in the long run

activists must constantly educate and organize to build the political

base of support for affirmative action, rather than letting

complacency erode the support of those in the ideological middle

ground.

Along with advocating for the admission of more disadvantaged

students, it is important to remember the importance of

academic support programs and curricular reform. As UCLA

learned through experience, students from educationally disadvantaged

backgrounds need additional academic support to assist

them with law school and the bar exam.226 To its credit, UCLA

already has one of the best academic support programs among

the nation’s law schools. However, other steps can be explored

in order to better prepare students for the bar exam, such as incorporating

more practice bar problems in the existing

curriculum.

Given the fact that only faculty members hold decision-making

power on admissions and other policy matters, students need

to support the hiring of progressive and diverse professors who

will support and initiate reform. While advocating for racial diversity

on the faculty, students should remember that some of the

most outspoken supporters of students of color have been white

men, such as Leon Letwin and Kenneth Graham.

As of the spring of 1993, there were only eight minorities

among 69 UCLA faculty members.227 While the greater participation

of minority professors in admissions affairs certainly does

not insure a more progressive faculty, the underrepresentation of

minority perspectives should at least raise serious doubts as to

the representative nature of this policy-making body. Furthermore,

while UCLA’s faculty diversity record may be better than

most other schools of equal caliber, this fact merely underscores

how poorly the other schools are doing in terms of diversifying

their faculty ranks. 228

In advocating for change, students should maximize their

political power. For example, students can leverage their influence

on admissions affairs by coordinating alumni donations and

letterwriting campaigns, enlisting the support of ethnic bar as-

226. See, e.g., Rappaport, supra note 16, at 512-13.

227. William Litt and Dorris Y. Ng, Student Organization Focuses on Faculty Diversity

at UCLA Law, THE DoCKET, Mar. 1993, at 1, 6.

228. For a comparative discussion of the UCLA School of Law and other law

schools in terms of their efforts to diversify their faculties, see Larry Frank, A Question

of Commitment? The Recruitment, Hiring,” and Retention of Minorities and

Women Faculty Members at U.S. Law Schools with a Focus on UCLA School of

Law (May 18, 1990) (unpublished student paper on file with LRLSA).

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 137

sociations, gaining media publicity, and utilizing alumni contacts

with state legislators and other influential people.

At the same time, students should recognize that the faculty

and administration, despite real or perceived shortcomings, may

be more supportive of a progressive agenda than potential

outside actors. As Assistant Dean Rappaport once stated, “I

don’t see any court telling the law school that we’re not doing

enough to diversify the legal profession. “229

IV. CONCLUSION

Professor Derrick Bell writes:

We must remember that minority admissions programs are far

more the product of minority insistence than the tardy manifestation

of white conscience. The Supreme Court did not create

minority admissions programs, and the Bakke decision,

even on the slender record in that case, narrowed, but did not

eliminate discretion to operate these programs. Thus, for the

present, their continued existence will depend on the efforts of

proponents in each school. After Bakke, it may be prudent to

substitute vagueness for precise quotas, and to rely on the vigilance

and persistence of minority admissions advocates rather

than on court orders. 230

For student activists to be effective, they must work to preserve

an institutional memory that will allow them to learn from

and build upon past admissions struggles. An institutional memory

for students is particularly important in light of the fact that

students come and go every three years, in contrast to the faculty

and administration. Until the political pendulum swings back toward

a social climate more hospitable to affirmative action and

other initiatives of social equity, these memories of past struggles

can provide valuable lessons and hope for current and future

generations of activists.

ALBERTY. MURATSUCH.rt

229. Interview with Michael Rappaport, supra note 220.

230. Derrick A. Bell Jr., Bakke, Minority Admissions, and the Usual Price of

Racial Remedies, 61 CAL. L. REv. 3, 18-19 (1979).

t Deputy Public Defender, Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office;

J.D. 1994, UCLA School of Law; B.A. 1988, University of California at Berkeley.

138 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol.16:90

APPENDIX I.

TABLE 1: AVERAGE UNDERGRADUATE GRADE PoiNT

AVERAGE (UGPA) AND LSAT (WITH PERCENTILE RANKING)

FOR UCLA REGULAR ADMITS

(Source: UCLA School of Law Admissions Office)

1989 1990 1991 1992 1993

UGPA 3.6 3.66 3.68 3.6 3.64

LSAT 42 44 44 (97) 168 167 (96)

TABLE 2: AVERAGE UNDERGRADUATE GRADE POINT

AVERAGE (UGPA) AND LSAT (WITH PERCENTILE RANKING)

FOR UCLA DIVERSITY ADMITS

(Source: UCLA School of Law Admissions Office)

1989 1990 1991 1992 1993

UGPA 3.2 3.24 3.25 3.32 3.36

LSAT 36 37 38 (82} 158 158 (78)

TABLE 3: ADMITI’EES BY RACE

(Source: UCLA School of Law, Office of Admissions)

* Note: 1989 admittee statistics not available.

1990 Group

white

black

Latino

Asian/Pac. Islander

Native American

1991 Group

white

black

Latino

Asian/Pac. Islander

Native American

1992 Group

white

black

Latino

Asian/Pac. Islander

Native American

1993 Group

white

black

Latino

Asian/Pac. Islander

Native American

Regular

613

1

8

63

0

Regular

650

0

11

87

0

Regular

625

3

14

89

1

Regular

757

3

22

171

1

Diversity

26

104

89

42

5

Diversity

27

113

85

46

7

Diversity

49

110

88

44

10

Diversity

40

98

83

34

10

1995] UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW ADMISSIONS 139

TABLE 4: ENROLLEES BY RACE

(Source: UCLA School of Law, Office of Admissions)

1989 Group Regular Diversity

white 177 20

black 0 31

Latino 1 41

Asian/Pac. Islander 12 31

Native American 0 4

1990 Group Regular Diversity

white 194 11

black 1 39

Latino 0 39

Asian/Pac. Islander 11 27

Native American 0 2

1991 Group Regular Diversity

white 177 10

black 0 31

Latino 2 42

Asian/Pac. Islander 19 27

Native American 0 4

1992 Group Regular Diversity

white 144 25

black 1 34

Latino 2 45

Asian/Pac. Islander 13 23

Native American 0 7

1993 Group Regular Diversity

white 197 15

black 0 21

Latino 3 47

Asian/Pac. Islander 47 18

Native American 0 2

140 CHICANO-LATINO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 16:90

APPENDIX n

Asian Concerns Committee (a joint committee of the Japanese

American Bar Association, Southern California Chinese Lawyers

Association, Korean American Bar Association, and the

Philippine American Bar Association), Results of the UCLA

Asian Alumni Survey, May 9, 1988. The results of the survey are

as follows:

I. Total responses: 84

Respondents who were Diversity/LEOP admittees: 33

Respondents who were regUlar admittees: 33

Respondents who were uncertain as to which program they

were admitted under: 18

II. Service to the Ethnic Minority Community

A. Diversity/LEOP Admittees:

i. Average percentage of ethnic or minority clients in regular

practice: 46.7 percent

ii. Average percentage of low-income/working class clients

in regular practice: 39.5 percent

iii. Average percentage of current practice which requires

foreign language proficiency: 15.9 percent

iv. Average hours per month of pro bono work with ethnic

or minority community: 2.1 hours per month

v. Average hours per month in ethnic civic/business organizations:

5.2 hours per month

vi. Average hours per month in ethnic bar associations: 3.3

hours per month

vii. Average hours per month of pro bono in general community:

0.9 hours per month.

B. Regular Admittees

i. Average percentage of ethnic or minority clients in regular

practice: 25.2 percent

ii. Average percentage of low-income/working class clients

in regular practice: 14.6 percent

iii. Average percentage of current practice which requires

foreign language proficiency: 5.0 percent

iv. Average hours per month of pro bono work with ethnic

or minority community: 0.3 hours per month

v. Average hours per month in ethnic civic/business organizations:

1.4 hours per month

vi. Average hours per month in ethnic bar associations: 2.0

hours per month

vii. Average hours per month of pro bono in general community:

1.0 hours per month.

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