Pathway to the Profession, a Landscape of Exclusion

New York City Bar Association · Pathway to the Profession, a Landscape of Exclusion

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Why do you have to take the LSAT to get into law school? Is the modern Bar Exam the best way to protect the public and sort bar admission applicants? Why is the law school curriculum designed the way that it is? What does it mean to have the character and fitness to be a lawyer? Many lawyers take for granted that the answers to these questions are settled. The assumption is that these institutions help us select only the best and the brightest to enter the legal profession. In this episode of the City Bar Podcast, two academic experts help us probe those assumptions. They unpack the history, structure and outcomes of these institutions of selection. And they tease out the many interconnected ways in which the status quo functionally excludes people from underrepresented communities from entering the legal profession.

Tune in to learn about:

  • How standardized tests that claim to predict law school success sort significantly based on economic class and race. 
  • How the Bar Exam still in use today has historical roots in purposeful exclusion. 
  • How Black and Latinx students get less financial aid and more debt on their paths through law school.  
  • How legal education is largely set up to benefit people who come in knowing something about the law and “legal culture,” to the detriment of first-generation lawyers. 
  • How character and fitness standards have historically largely reflected the bigotry and biases of the era. 
  • How the legal profession can begin to reverse course and make these institutions work to include more people with the motivation, intelligence, skills, talent and commitment to becoming a lawyer.



Sealing the Leaks: Recommendations to Diversify and Strengthen the Pipeline to the Legal Profession: https://bit.ly/3I1eNFS

The Diversity Gap: Black and Latinx Representation Disparities in the Legal Pipeline: https://bit.ly/3ssibFP  

Building Belonging Podcast: https://apple.co/3SAgnp6 

Radical Reformation: Diverse Pathways to Attorney Licensure Will Yield a More Diverse Profession: https://bit.ly/460jNEw 

Professor Carla Pratt’s Book – The End of the Pipeline: A Journey of Recognition for African Americans Entering the Legal Profession: https://bityl.co/LqhD

Professor Joan Howarth’s Book – Shaping the Bar: The Future of Attorney Licensing: https://bityl.co/LqhC  

College Admissions Tests and Socioeconomic/Racial Discrimination: https://bityl.co/Lqf4

Robert J. Steinberg’s Study of Admissions Testing Efficacy: https://bit.ly/3u7nATc

Examining the California Cut Score: An Empirical Analysis of Minimum Competency, Public Protection, Disparate Impact, and National Standards: https://bityl.co/Lqf6

Building a Better Bar: The Twelve Building Blocks of Minimum Competence: https://bit.ly/40xrd15

Final Report of the Testing Task Force for the NexGen Bar Exam: https://bit.ly/3QPNZ0B  

Lawyer Licensing Resources: Exploring Ways to License Lawyers Now and in the Future: https://bit.ly/469xb9p

Access a transcript of this episode here: https://bit.ly/40wHKCa