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While nationwide law school enrollment has been on the rise, the number of African-American and Mexican-American students enrolled in law school has noticeably decreased in recent years, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

However, this is not the case at the Penn School of Law, where there has not been a decline in either self-identified African American or Hispanic students applying or choosing to matriculate.

“It’s a trend certainly I am aware of,” said Renee Post, associate dean of admissions and financial aid.

“Our goal from the admissions perspective is to enroll a diverse class in every sense of the word,” she added.

Penn Law’s focus on diversity is visible in their enrollment statistics.

African American enrollment increased from 7.5 percent of the 1993 incoming class to 8 percent in 2008. Hispanic enrollment rose from 3.8 percent to 5 percent in the same years.

These minorities have not nationally had as much success according to the New York Times, which reported that African Americans dropped from 7.9 percent of total law school enrollment in 1993 to 7.3 percent in 2008. Statistics for Mexican Americans were similar, decreasing from 1.6 percent to 1.4 percent.

Columbia Law School professor Conrad Johnson, who conducted the New York Times study, said his findings were most unsettling because both minority groups’ grade-point averages and scores on the Law Schools Admissions Test have improved over the last 20 years.

These scores have not been overlooked at Penn Law, according to Post.

She explained that Penn Law looks at “every piece of the application, from the academic history to the LSAT writing sample, personal statement, letters of recommendation, resumes and any additional information.”

Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts wrote in an e-mail, “Having a rich tapestry of students and faculty teaching and learning in our classrooms contributes immeasurably to the educational experience at Penn Law.”

He added that “the diversity of our community is also critical to our ensuring that the legal profession has representation at the highest levels from individuals of who are drawn from every significant social and economic group in our society.”

Penn Law is not the only program in Philadelphia focusing on diversity.

Johanne Johnston, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at Temple Law School, explained, “Temple has a long-standing commitment to diversity in the admissions process.”

Though they do not divide their statistics into specific minorities, the percentage of minorities Temple Law admitted rose between 1993 and 2008.

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