March 08, 2017 Articles

Character and Fitness: The Underrepresentation of Black Men in Law

Examining one aspect of the legal infrastructure that may hinder greater diverse representation in the legal community: the character and fitness portion of state bar examinations.

By Jay E. Mitchell – March 8, 2017

Regardless of the standard used to assess diversity in the legal profession, one thing is invariably true: black Americans are severely underrepresented. Less than 5 percent percent of lawyers are black even though black Americans comprise over 12 percent of the U.S. population. And the situation is direst for black men—they make up a meager 2 percent of lawyers, although they comprise about 6 percent of the population. By contrast, white Americans constitute less than 64 percent of the population but more than 85 percent of lawyers. In fact, the legal profession’s diversity problem is so acute that the ABA has declared that “the proportion of minorities in the legal profession is not likely to attain parity with that in the general population in the foreseeable future.”

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