February 22, 2011

If you're an attorney in California, and you're wondering where your bar dues go, this is where . . .

By If you're an attorney in California, and you're wondering where your bar dues go, this is where . . .

Author: Brandon Middleton

Attorneys in California are required to pay $390 to the State Bar of California for annual dues.  But rest assured, fellow attorneys, for the State Bar is wisely spending our dues to emphasize the importance of diversity in law schools throughout the country.

From The National Law Journal:

Should diversity be a factor in the U.S. News & World Report rankings?

The State Bar of California thinks so. Its Council on Access & Fairness — essentially a think tank on diversity — is finalizing a proposal that calls on U.S. News to adjust its formula so that diversity accounts for 15% of the overall law school rankings.

U.S. News publishes a law school diversity index each year that measures the relative diversity of student bodies, but diversity is not a factor in the overall rankings.

According to the proponents of this diversity initiative, law school rankings should be based less on the quality of the legal education offered, and more attention should be paid to "what schools are doing to promote diversity on campus."

I find it hard to believe that attorneys and their clients will benefit from yet another call for increased diversity–especially in the context of legal education.  As John Rosenberg at Discriminations rightly asks, "Can anyone point to a law school, any law school, that is not already tripping over admissions standards to promote more 'diversity'?"

Perhaps the State Bar should focus on ensuring that the lawyers which it governs are competent instead of spending member dues on the nebulous concept of diversity.  But then again, this is California.

More from Professors Ann Althouse (Althouse) and Paul Caron (TaxProf Blog).

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