Written by: Karen Sloan
The expected confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court could prompt a greater number of diverse students — particularly Black women — to pursue a law degree, legal educators predicted this week.
Jackson, who would be the first Black women to sit on the high court, has won the support of three Republican senators and is poised to be confirmed as early as Thursday. Black women deans at three U.S. law schools described her rise as an inspiration to underrepresented groups in the profession.
“To see soon-to-be Justice Jackson sitting in her robe — the image of it is so powerful and meaningful,” said Rutgers law dean Kimberly Mutcherson, noting that many first-generation students have told her they never encountered a lawyer who looked like them until law school. “That can plant a little seed where a girl thinks, ‘Hmm, I wonder how you get there?’”
Racial diversity among law students has grown incrementally over the past 15 years but still lags behind the U.S. population. Non-white students earned 31% of the Juris Doctors awarded in 2020, up from 23% in 2007, according to law school non-profit AccessLex Institute. About 8% of this year’s first-year law students are Black, according to the American Bar Association, compared to more than 12% of the U.S. population. Fewer than 10% of federal judges are Black, ABA data show.Full Article