Did the Supreme Court overrule affirmative action in college admissions? The short answer is yes. The more accurate, longer, and strategically fraught answer is… kind of? While schools can’t give applicants from a minority background preassigned spots or points for mentioning their race, nothing prevents a student from mentioning how their lived experience, racial or otherwise, has contributed to their experiences as a student, a person, or aspiring lawyer. And, if that narrative convinces an admissions officer that a particular applicant is preferable to another, so be it? Maybe. That is still to be decided by future litigation.
Despite that being the fuller, more accurate answer, it doesn’t really do much for applicants who are writing diversity statements in the here and now. Thankfully, the Break Into Law Conference had that need in mind. It was a conversation led by people well-versed in the field — Sydney Montgomery, a law school admissions consultant, and Mike Spivey, a consultant who was a dean-level administrator at schools like Vanderbilt, University of Colorado, and Washington University in St. Louis (go WUSTL!). They spoke as part of a virtual two-day conference that addressed issues like the future of legal education, faith in the legal profession, and bottom-line matters like surviving 1L year.
The practical takeaway is to realize that schools and employers still care about fostering diversity. Does the Harvard and UNC opinion mean that schools are no longer accepting minority applicants or that they shouldn’t bother applying? Hell no! You have too much potential to shut doors that you could have walked through. Remember, admissions offices do more than sift through GPAs and LSAT scores — they try to get a sense for the individual applying. It’s your job to give them the fullest picture possible. Once that’s done, it is out of your hands. Trust the process.
If you’d like a little extra advice on how to factor diversity into your applications, this video is a great place to start.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.