Some great national kudos came the way of an Arizona law school this past Saturday. That’s when the Phoenix School of Law was honored for its remarkable commitment to diversity efforts.

After the school took home the 2011 Law School Admissions Council’s Diversity Matters Award at the organization’s annual meeting in Los Angeles, PSL described the recognition as being for “the top law school in the country for its diversity efforts.” Other schools may disagree with that sweeping characterization, but the LSAC does monitor roughly 215 law schools nationwide and then converts their minority outreach efforts to a numerical scale. Whatever you call them, PSL’s accomplishments are noteworthy.

Read their complete press release down below.

The PSL news follows on the heels of a few other pieces of optimistic news. The first is the graduation of another class of the State Bar of Arizona Bar Leadership Institute this past Friday. That initiative has yielded quite a large field of lawyer-leaders over the years, and it’s great to see the program going strong.

Law School Admissions Council logo

The other news is more nuanced, but optimistic nonetheless. Some recent data show that an accelerating slide in the hiring of minority lawyers appears to have slowed.

As The American Lawyer reported on June 1:

“It’s not much, but it’s enough to make diversity advocates in the legal profession let out a collective ‘phew!’ According to our latest Diversity Scorecard, in 2010 big firms increased their percentage of minority attorneys by 0.2 percent, to 13.9 percent. This small jump is noteworthy because it halts the dip seen last year, when law firm diversity dropped for the first time in the decade that we’ve collected these numbers.”

But a companion news story demonstrates that we still have a ways to go. Data in the same month reveal that the elevation of women to partnership positions in law firms essentially stalled in 2011: “At a time when associates are chasing fewer spots as partners, women lawyers continue to lag behind their male peers in becoming partners, according to the latest data from the Project for Attorney Retention.” (read the complete story here).

Congratulations to the Phoenix School of Law and all in the legal profession who are seeking to make a difference.

Phoenix School Of Law Honored As The Top Law School In The Country For Diversity

LSAC’s Diversity Matters Award Recognizes Commitment To Valuing All Individuals

Phoenix, Arizona (June 6, 2011) –  Phoenix School of Law was honored as the top law school in the country for its diversity efforts with the 2011 Law School Admissions Council’s Diversity Matters Award at the organization’s annual meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday. PhoenixLaw was among the more than 200 LSAC member schools that were considered for the award.  The award is given to schools that are seriously committed to diversity, and who demonstrate this by their recruitment efforts directed toward underrepresented minority candidates.

Phoenix School of Law Dean Shirley Mays on our April 2011 cover

“We recognize that students of color have long been underrepresented in legal education and we are pleased that our efforts in this area have been acknowledged by LSAC,” said Shirley L. Mays, Dean of Phoenix School of Law.  “Our fall 2010 class of 31% diversity students and our spring 2011 class of 40% diversity put us at the forefront of diversifying the legal academy.  As diversity increases in our country and throughout the world, we are proud to reflect in our student body the skills, exposure, and preparation that these future leaders will exemplify in the legal profession.”

According to a 2009 Columbia University Law School study, African American and Mexican American representation in law school has decreased in the last fifteen years.  Applicants from these groups are also denied acceptance by all the schools to which they apply more often than Caucasians.  One of PhoenixLaw’s missions is a commitment to valuing and achieving diversity among students, staff, faculty and administration, so that the school can provide and impart a deeper understanding of the needs of all individuals, especially those who have been underserved.

Phoenix School of Law has made diversity an integral part of its mission through the creation of the Diversity Committee and Dean’s Diversity Council which provide opportunities to identify and resolve challenges facing the school’s diverse community.   The faculty has a 37% diversity rate, and is an integral part of these two committees.  The goals of the Diversity Committee and Dean’s Diversity Council are to promote programs that influence and effect social change at the school, as well as the community, and to promote and advance the goal of diversity in the legal profession. 

PhoenixLaw also hosts an annual High School Law Day and Diversity Day to educate high school students, college students and working professionals about law school preparation and careers in law. 

In 2009, Phoenix School of Law began a partnership with the Arizona State Bar’s Diversity Section for the Diversity Pipeline Project. The State Bar adopted Cloves C. Campbell, Sr. Elementary School (7th and 8th grades) in South Phoenix to start the project. With more than 10 student volunteers from PhoenixLaw, the pipeline project exposes students from diverse backgrounds to the benefits of higher education in an effort to encourage them to attend law school, pass the bar, and become attorneys. Project volunteers mentor the youngsters and guide them through the pipeline from entry to advancement in the legal profession.

About Phoenix School of Law

Phoenix School of Law is Arizona’s only law school offering full-time, part-time day, and part-time evening programs. The School received full approval from the American Bar Association in June 2010.  PhoenixLaw’s mission pillars are to provide student outcome-centered education, produce professionally prepared graduates, and serve the underserved. For more information about PhoenixLaw, visit or call 602-682-6800.

Law School Admissions Council logo

Should the LSAT be required by law schools? Does performance on that exam bear any correlation to later success as a lawyer?

For years, the American Bar Association has answered with an emphatic “Yes.” But more and more people have openly wondered whether that’s the case.

Now, the ABA is scratching its own head and re-opening the conversation. A news story today reports that an ABA panel is “leaning toward” recommending an end to the requirement.

The story is a good backgrounder on the issue. It quotes experts who are at least tentatively aligned with the probable approach (though the Law School Admissions Council, which runs the LSAT, said that “the organization was not commenting until the ABA issues a final recommendation”).

If you’re new to this conversation, you may be wondering what’s the big deal? There’s this non-mandatory organization of lawyers considering a non-binding decision that may alter admission to law school.

To see some of the decades of vitriol that resides behind the ABA’s review, scroll to the very end of the news story. There, you will hear from the dean at the Massachusetts School of Law, which engaged in long battle with the ABA over this exact high-stakes exam.

And in case you thought that the pending ABA decision will heal old wounds, read Dean Velvel’s comments on how he claims the ABA keeps “the poor and the lower middle class out of law schools and the legal profession.”

What do you think? Should the LSAT be abandoned? Or should the ABA at least allow schools to decide for themselves if they’d like to use it?

And what about the claims that high-stakes exams like the LSAT keep the applicant pool far less diverse than it would be otherwise?

More on this story as it develops.

Phoenix School of Law Honored

Dr. Gene Clark, Phoenix School of Law

In what will be a long list of awards and honorable events this week, we see that the newest Arizona law school has garnered quite an honor: Being named one of the top three law schools in the country for their diversity efforts.

It’s good that national entities recognize what we’ve known here for awhile. PhoenixLaw’s commitment to diversity is so strong that it took us just a moment to think of them as the site for our Q and A (and photo shoot) with the State Bar of Arizona’s Diversity Director, I. Godwin Otu.

Congratulations to the school and its leader, Dean Gene Clark.

Click here for the full story about the award, given by the Law School Admissions Council.