A "study" out of Columbia Law School, trumpeted in a law school press release, boldly states that based on LSAC data African American and Mexican American matriculation in law schools declined between 1992 and 2005, even though more law school slots are available overall due to the opening of new law schools.
There are some real oddities with this study. First, the LSAC apparently changed its data collection methods in 2000, and an LSAC page (go to the "Data" link) warns that data starting that year is not comparable to earlier data, which would seem to make the entire exercise of comparing data from 1992 to data in 2005 moot.
Second, that LSAC page shows 2,980 African American and 620 Mexican American matriculants to law school in 2005, consistent with the Columbia study. But a different LSAC web page shows a steady increase in Mexican American first-year students to 866, up from 807 in 1992 (and 586 in 1986), and a slight decrease in African American first-year students from 3,303 in 1992 (and 2,156 in 1986) to 3,132 in 2005 (rebounding to 3,516 in 2006). Similarly, this page shows Puerto Rican matriculants holding steady at just over 200, while this page shows a steep increase to 780.
Both pages show a very substantial increase in the number of "other Hispanics," to over 2,000--conveniently left out of the Columbia study--but again the exact numbers differ. And given that Mexican American and Puerto Ricans compose about three-quarters of the Hispanic population of the United States, can it really be that their numbers in law school are dwarfed by "other Hispanics"? Perhaps some Mexican Americans are checking off "Hispanic/Latino" instead of "Chicano/Mexican American"?
Thanks to my colleague Michael Krauss for the pointer.