Congrats to our neighbors at FIU Law who (unsurpringly) have secured provisional accreditation. I'm sure it's deserved, and I'm sure FIU will be fully accredited as soon as it can be.
I do object, however, to the claim routinely repeated by the Miami Herald that because a majority of FIU's small class is Hispanic, this adds a great diversity element otherwise absent from the Florida bar. UM already has an substantial number of Hispanic students every year. Hispanics may not be a majority of our class, but they form a large fraction of a larger class than FIU fields. And we also have a substantial number of Black students. (I'd quote the actual numbers if I could remember what they are—they're good numbers and we are proud of them. And they are well-credentialed students who do well here too.)
The more the merrier and all that, but I sort of resent the implication that we have not been doing well in this area for at least the dozen years I've been watching, and indeed no doubt much longer.
You are correct in your criticism of the Herald. It is not for lack of law schools that the Fla Bar is not a mirror image of its populace. The problem starts with poor elementary and high schools in Florida, which put minority students at a disadvantage for ever making it to college, let alone graduate schools.
Tuition at South Florida law schools is also an issue. UM, Nova, and FIU all skirt the 30g/yr. mark. For a bright Florida student who doesn’t get accepted to UF, she would be wise to leave the state (and many do…). In fact, a dozen or so bright UM students transfer after 1L out of state for primarily tuition reasons every year. Once they leave, they often don’t return. Unless FIU is a real bargain comperable to UF, I don’t see much change. The problem for minorities isn’t getting in (i.e. competing), the problem is affording the ordeal.
The last issue is the considerable difference in bar passage rates for so-called USNEWS 3rd tier schools like Nova, Barry, and FIU and the 1st or 2nd tier schools like UF, UM, FSU. What good is it to create more minority law students, if 25% of them end up 100 grand in debt and bitter towards the legal community. Even if they pass, are the jobs there, coming out of FIU? Nova grads have been known to struggle. And we all remember the Barry debacle.
But even if it were theoretically nice for the Fla Bar to reflect the populace, there doesn’t seem to be much concern that minority communities aren’t being properly served.
To me, I think the legal community in south florida would be more diverse and of higher quality if some how, some way, the south florida law schools’ tuitions could be shaved down to the high teens for in-state students. Frankly, I don’t see all these schools surviving 10 years out.