Diversity and Inclusion in Law School and Higher Education


Is Affirmative Action Responsible for the Achievement Gap Between Black and White Law Students?

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



affirmative action, simulation, discrimination, mismatch, bootstrap, selection bias


This article was published as a rebuttal to a 2004 article by Richard Sanders stating affirmative action policies are counterproductive. Sanders argued that if affirmative action were eliminated then bar passages rates of AA lawyers would increase by 27%. Barnes examined different variables (bar passage, high paying jobs, etc.) and found that except for acquiring a high paying job, affirmative action did not have an impact on AA students. Weaker students did have different outcomes at HBCUs, top tier, or lower tier law schools. Barnes concludes there are other factors besides mismatch of students (weak students at high tier schools) that impact the black/white achievement gap in law school.