Fewer Asian-Americans Going to Law School, Study Finds

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 28, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Over the past decade, law school enrollment by Asian-Americans has fallen off by 40 percent.

While law school enrollments have declined steadily in recent years, according to a new study, far fewer Asian-American students are interested in legal careers today.

It's a troubling trend, the authors say, because Asian-Americans are already under-represented in the law.

"This Is Worrisome"

"It does mean that the growth of Asian-Americans going into the profession is going to be slower ... so this is worrisome," said California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Lin, who co-authored the study.

Lin and co-author Xiaonan April Hu told HuffPost that the recession may be part of the reason. Due largely to discouraging job reports for lawyers, many students have steered towards other professions.

Law school enrollments in general have dropped by more than 30 percent over the past seven years, and law schools have graduated 10 percent fewer students. As time marches on, Liu says Asian-Americans will lose their place in the law.

They already have a problem with under-representation in the top law jobs. Asian-Americans, who are the fastest-growing minority group in the nation, comprise less than two percent of the judicial population and have the lowest partner-to-associate ratio for racial groups.

Bamboo Ceiling

The report illustrates a "bamboo ceiling," a term to describe the under-representation of Asian-Americans in leadership positions.

In the study, about 600 Asian-American lawyers responded to questions about job discrimination. More than 80 percent of them said they experienced bias in the workplace.

The respondents said that Asian-Americans are considered to be hardworking and responsible, but they are not associated with qualities of empathy, creativity, or assertiveness.

"There is something about the model minority stereotype that runs counter to what people expect a lawyer to look like," Hu said. Add this to the list of irksome stereotypes about lawyers.

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