No, not the class you sit in. This column is devoted to socio-economic status, or “class.”

As I reported last week , the citation count rankings have a paucity of women, people of color, and people who didn’t go to a top 10 law school (and more likely to be from a lower socio-economic status). I had no idea that this would be a controversial proposition that the legal academy has some hierarchies that are perpetuated through its echo chamber of rankings.

The citation count rankings made me wonder about the path to getting into law school. So it was fortuitous that I found an interesting discussion by Brookings : It reports that states that compelled students to take the SAT or ACT “discovered” college-ready students of lower socio-economic status. And then Anthony Kreis (a person I’d love to have as a colleague at my school) tweeted this chart to me in the NY Times that shows some astonishing disparities based on class. This is something that schools like Yale and Harvard already know.

But that’s undergrad: How easy is it for a person of lower socioeconomic status to be accepted into and succeed in a top 10 law school? How easy is it for them to become law professors?

Let’s start with what some call “history.” Richard Sander wrote an excellent article in the Denver Law Review titled “ Class In American Legal Education .” His conclusions were troubling. To be a law student essentially meant coming from privilege, with rare exception. Or, in his words: “The vast majority of American law students come from relatively elite backgrounds; this is especially true at the most prestigious law schools, where only five percent of all students come from families whose SES is in the bottom half of the national distribution. ”

Of course, the usual route to be a law professor is to first graduate from law school. And if you want to publish in the top 10 law reviews or be well cited, a top law school. According to my perusal of Sisk et. al.’s study of most cited legal scholars, none of […]

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