Professional apartheid

The racialization of US law schools after the global economic crisis

by Riaz Tejani

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After the 2008 global financial crisis, US law schools suffered a steep drop in enrollment. In response, many professional law programs, especially so-called fourth-tier institutions, turned to ethnoracial minorities as a new market for student recruitment. They relaxed admissions standards, enabling more “diverse” students to finance their studies with guaranteed federal student loans. By raising diversity in a lower-status “southern hemisphere” of legal education and services, however, this new approach replaced outright exclusion with a racialized professional dualism justified by the neoliberal ideology of market access. Some have called this an “apartheid model”—a freighted term with broad theoretical and ethical entanglements. This pairing of race and free-market logics resembles wider, specious extensions of market citizenship into the global peripheries. [law, education, professions, neoliberalism, race, markets, United States]