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Analysis of Differential Prediction of Law School Performance by Racial/Ethnic Subgroups Based on the
1996-1998 Entering Law School Classes (TR-00-02)

Lisa C. Anthony and Mei Liu

Executive Summary

This study was designed to address questions of differential prediction of law school grades for various racial/ethnic minority subgroups. Such research is essential for assuring that the admission process is fair to all subgroups in the applicant population. Differential prediction was evaluated by comparing the predicted and actual law school first-year grade-point averages (FYAs) for various racial/ethnic subgroups within individual law schools based on regression equations commonly used in the admission process.

The sample used in this study was drawn from 1996, 1997, and 1998 entering law school classes, using data that were available from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC)-sponsored Correlation Studies. Data from 167 law schools, each of which enrolled 10 or more first-year students who identified themselves as Asian American, black, or Latino were analyzed and reported. Statistical regression analyses were carried out to predict FYA using Law School Admission Test (LSAT) alone, undergraduate grade-point average (UGPA) alone, and the best predictive linear combination of these two variables. Analyses were carried out separately for each law school included in the study, resulting in three regression lines for each law school. The regression analyses were carried out for the combined group of students included in the study (i.e., combined minority and nonminority subgroups).

The results reported here indicate that the equation combining LSAT score and UGPA to predict FYA resulted in more accurate prediction than an equation utilizing either LSAT score or UGPA in isolation. FYA tended to be overpredicted on average very slightly by this equation for all three of the minority groups studied here, with black law students exhibiting the most overprediction and Asian American law students exhibiting the least overprediction. The use of UGPA alone to predict FYA consistently resulted in the greatest average overprediction of FYA. These results do not support the concern that the LSAT score or the traditional combination of LSAT score and UGPA may result in unfair admission decisions for the minority subgroups studied here.

While considering the results of this study, the reader should keep in mind that they refer only to subgroup behavior and not to individuals. For example, while results may suggest that UGPAs alone may overpredict FYAs for black law students on average, the performance of many individual black law students may be underpredicted based solely on their UGPAs.

Analysis of Differential Prediction of Law School Performance by Racial/Ethnic Subgroups Based on the
1996-1998 Entering Law School Classes (TR-00-02)

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