Association law

The American Bar Association responds to the “Woke Law”


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Regarding “Why the Lawyers Cartel Is Pushing for Woke Law Schools” (op-ed, July 16): What John O. McGinnis describes as proposals from the American Bar Association are in fact proposals from the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Bar Admissions. As the national accreditor of law schools, the board serves as an independent branch of the ABA, as required by the U.S. Department of Education. Final decisions on accreditation rest with the board.

The board released the proposals Mr. McGinnis is referring to for public comment, in accordance with board procedures, and received more than three dozen comments. If the board follows past practice, a revised proposal will be resubmitted for comment, and no final proposal will be prepared until next year at the earliest.

The ABA is strongly committed to eliminating bias and improving inclusion in the legal profession and the justice system. Current standards for legal education reflect these goals. I am confident that the Board, as it considers revisions to its Diversity and Inclusion Standards, will weigh all viewpoints and make decisions that are in the best interests of legal education and its many stakeholders.

Patricia Lee Refo

President, American Bar Association


Mr. McGinnis’ article on woke law schools reminds me of an experience I had as director of admissions at a northern law school. One year, our seven-person committee had a new faculty member and two new student members, all constantly talking about diversity. This did not affect our decisions – no unqualified minority students were accepted – until one candidate was a well-known local curator. I will call it X.

X had excellent grades and a good LSAT score, above our average, and he didn’t need financial help. I recommended his admission. But our three “diversity” members disagreed and came up with all sorts of fanciful reasons why X shouldn’t be admitted. None stood up to scrutiny, but they still wouldn’t admit they just didn’t like X’s politics.

Finally, as chair of the committee, I said that if X was not admitted, I would go back and transform 10 files of liberal activists accepted into refusals. I don’t know if I could have got away with it, but I was willing to try. The threat worked, and the three recalcitrant members reluctantly agreed to admit X.

It was then that I realized that diversity was a code word for having people of all skin colors – and today, sexual orientations – sitting next to each other in class and saying the same liberal platitudes. As Mr. McGinnis shows, it has only gotten worse in law schools today, not better.

Em. Professor Donald W. Large

Lewis & Clark Law School

Green Valley, Arizona.

I was with Mr. McGinnis until I got to the last sentence: “At least farmers don’t have dogmas to impose. Mr. McGinnis’ argument is that lawyers and dairy farmers are trying to stifle competition—they are controlled by cartels—but, unlike lawyers, farmers are not trying to impose a woke agenda. Really? Think of agrarian populism; the role of the Wallace family in American agricultural history (Henry was a hair’s breadth from the presidency); and continued pressure on the national government to support agricultural prices. It is no coincidence that the Minnesota Democratic Party affiliate is the Democrat-Farmer-Labour Party. There’s a hidden dogma in the fertilizer there, I believe.

Em. Professor Erik M. Jensen

Case Western Reserve University


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Appeared in the July 23, 2021 print edition as “The Bar Association Responds on ‘Woke Law'”.