I’d like to live in a world where the list of best law schools “for black people” was exactly the same as the list of best law schools “for people.”
I think we’re close. Black people are already conditioned to make the same stupid decisions based on the U.S. News rankings as white people have been making for a generation. And while there are still some unhelpful people who try to tell black people that the reasons for going to law school are somehow radically different for them than for everybody else, for the most part, people understand that black people go to law school for the same reason white people do: jobs.
Still, we’re not quite there, in large part because the strength and vibrancy of the black community can vary greatly between law schools. In this day and age, nobody should expect to be the “only” black student in their small section. Everybody should expect access to a diverse law school faculty. But some law schools do a better job of providing those kinds of environments than others.
Now, usually when I see a non-U.S. News law school ranking, I make fun of it. That’s because there is usually some kind of huge, methodological problem with them. And then, of course, there is the pathetic joke that is the Cooley Law School Rankings. In general, non-U.S. News rankings fail either by offering no new information than what is already captured by U.S. News, or by looking at completely stupid information that nobody cares about.
With that in mind, I opened The Black Student’s Guide To Law School with a lot of skepticism. I mean, unless they figured out how to capture the all important “racist apologist per oblivious white person” metric, I wasn’t sure there would be a lot of utility here.
But having thumbed through the guide and their ranking of the top 25 national law schools for black people, I have to say that there is a lot of good stuff in here. And I’m not just saying that because Yale Law plummets to #19….
The Guide was put together by the people at On Being A Black Lawyer, the website founded by former Covington & Burling attorney Yolanda Young. Young is famous around these parts for her lawsuit against Covington. If you want to dismiss the work done by her people here and skip right to the comments and denigrate her or just black people in general, feel free. Your loss. Get back to me when you come up with your list of best law schools for racist white people… I’d love to see who’s number one on that list.
What’s really interesting about this list is that it’s focused on black people who want to go to law school and get good jobs and make a lot of money. That means Biglaw. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ranking that sought to answer the question of what are the best schools for black people looking for Biglaw jobs. Too often, people make the bad and economically destructive argument that black people have other, nobler reasons for paying exorbitant tuition than getting good jobs and making a lot of money. Screw that. If you want to go to law school so you can work at the NAACP legal defense fund, that’s great and good luck to you. But what if you just like money and the things it can buy? This ranking goes there.
Okay, so for any ranking, the methodology is the key. Here, the methodology makes a lot of sense:
I might quibble on the margins, but in the main, these seem like the right factors. Let’s look at how many black people are actually at your school. Let’s look at how black people who have graduated from your school have done out in the real world. Let’s look at how many other people are in the community, and the job prospects in that community.
I think it’s pretty simple: Black people want the opportunity to get good jobs, and they don’t want to be alone on an island dealing with a bunch of racist pricks. I know it’s sometimes hard to explain to white people who are used to seeing a lot of other white people everywhere they go. But it’s really… nice… when somebody says something horribly racist and there is at least one other black person in the room you can look at and do the “Did you just hear that? Yeah, I heard that. Is this cracker crazy? Are we going to start the revolution up in here? No? I should just finish my coffee while you pretend you are still reading your iPad? Cool.”
So, who wins when we look at things from this perspective? Here are the top ten national law schools, according to the Guide:
You can read the full top-25 list here.
Now let me say this: if you are a black person and you get into Yale and Howard and you go to Howard, you are a freaking idiot. If you were even considering making that decision, somebody should slap the proverbial black off of you and knock some sense into you.
But I think that black people smart enough to get into Yale know that, and I think the people who made this list know that. Here’s the little footnote that seeks to explain the surprisingly low performance of Yale and Stanford:
What I take away from that is that as between HYS, Yale and Stanford are better bets for academia, and Harvard might be a little better for corporate work. And that there are just more black people at the massive Harvard Law School than smaller schools like Yale and Stanford. What this list is trying to show isn’t that a black person should go to Alabama instead of Yale. It’s trying to say that the educational environment in Alabama might be a little bit more comfortable for black students than Yale.
WHICH IS A CRAZY CONCLUSION, BECAUSE WHO WANTS TO LIVE IN ALABAMA? Should the law school adopt a new tagline aimed at black students? “Alabama: Learn civil rights first hand as you try to prevent cops from throwing your black ass in jail.”
That’s what makes this list so interesting. A school like Michigan doesn’t even make the list, but Wisconsin is apparently the #16 best national law school for black people. Crazy pants!
Check it out and tell me what you think.
The Black Student’s Guide to Law Schools [On Being a Black Lawyer]