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Boalt Hall Increases Minority Enrollment

by Lujuana Treadwell , Boalt School of Law
posted August 26, 1998

Boalt Hall's 1998 entering class includes a major increase in minority students over last year's entering class -- the first admitted after new UC admissions policies prohibited the use of affirmative action.

This year Boalt admitted 857 of its 4,587 applicants, to yield a class of 275. Of those who began the study of law at Berkeley on Aug. 17, 85 are members of minority groups, compared to 53 minority students in last year's entering class. Virtually all of the increase is among students from traditionally underrepresented groups.

Boalt Hall Dean Herma Hill Kay expressed her gratitude for the determined efforts of many people -- faculty, students, alumni, administrators, bar associations and law firms -- who made the increase possible.

"While these results are gratifying," said Kay, "they are still below the level of traditionally underrepresented minority students enrolled at Boalt prior to 1997. We remain committed to continue a vigorous recruitment policy that can produce the diverse student body needed for a vibrant legal education consistent with existing university policy and applicable law."

One additional African American student admitted for fall 1998 deferred enrollment to 1999.

The increase in racial and ethnic diversity results in part from changes in Boalt Hall's admissions policy made to ensure that each applicant's full range of qualifications is considered, and in part from expanded efforts by Boalt and the private bar to persuade admitted students to enroll.

The admissions policy changes included:

• Increasing the pool of applicants;

• Reporting the results of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to faculty admissions committee members in score bands to reflect the standard error of measurement and to alert members that one-, two- or three-point differences between students are not significant;

• No longer grouping applicant files according to index scores (LSAT score and undergraduate GPA), thus eliminating sharp cut-off points between applicants;

• Allowing applicants with somewhat lower LSAT scores to demonstrate that their excellent academic performance in college was not accurately predicted by their SAT scores;

• Discontinuing use of a formula to weigh undergraduate GPAs according to the institution attended, instead allowing admissions committee members to make their own evaluations.

"These changes, while relatively modest, were very important," said Kay. "They helped dispel the false public impression that Boalt Hall is hostile to minority candidates, permitted the director of admissions to exercise wider discretion in admitting applicants than he had done in prior years and allowed the admissions committee to focus more than in prior years on non-numerical qualifications as well as numerical indicators."

Once the students had been admitted, Boalt Hall undertook aggressive and expanded efforts to persuade them to enroll, including:

• Joining with alumni to host receptions around the country for admitted students;

• Inviting admitted students to Boalt Hall, where they were greeted by current students, given individualized tours of the school, attended classes and met faculty members;

• Producing and distributing the eight-minute video "Welcome to Boalt Hall" featuring students, faculty and alumni (funded by a gift from Sun Micro Systems and a one-time recruitment allowance from the UC Office of the President);

• Phone calls by faculty, students, staff and administrators to many of the admitted students, both minority and non-minority, encouraging them to enroll at Boalt Hall.

In addition, students and alumni independently sponsored a spring visit to Boalt Hall for minority admits, and the Boalt Hall Alumni Association funded student outreach efforts to prospective applicants.

Kay especially thanked the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Wiley Manuel Law Foundation, both of which created private, independently funded scholarship programs to support minority students who had been admitted to Bay Area law schools, including Boalt Hall.

Boalt Hall Minority Enrollment

1998 1st-Yr.

1997 1st-Yr



32 (5 defers)

Asian Subgroups


6 (1 defer)

African American


1 (1 defer)



6 (3 defers)



8 (4 defers)

Native American




* This table includes students who were admitted in 1996 under the former admissions policy (which included affirmative action) and deferred their enrollment to 1997.

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