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Allan Favish is a Los Angeles-based attorney whose focus is on General Insurance Defense and Litigation Insurance Coverage/Reinsurance & Bad Faith Litigation.  A UCLA graduate, he received his J.D. at Hastings College of Law in 1981.

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Debate Continues on UCLA's Policies

After publication of my article "A Diverse History" (July 27), an article by Sam Magavern and letters by UCLA Law School Professor Kenneth W. Graham, Jr., and Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund official Kevin G. Baker were published (September 13, 1995).

None of the critics accuse me of any misquotes or taking quotes out of context. Nor do they challenge my conclusion that Justice Lewis F. Powell's Bakke opinion and the post-Bakke UCLA Law School Admissions Task Force Report both committed the major error of "assuming, without citing any evidence, that racial diversity was a proxy for intellectual and ideological diversity."

Magavern now writes of the "large numbers of white students" that "have been admitted because of diversity factors." But in his 1988 paper he wrote that after the Bakke opinion UCLA Law "wanted to preserve its minority enrollment at current levels" and used "white diversity students" as "a kind of litigation buffer" to "fend off any claims that it was simply the LEOP [pre-Bakke racial quota] system in disguise."

Magavern now writes that UCLA Law's admissions system does not involve a lowering of intellectual standards. But in 1988 he wrote that the post-Bakke admission system that allowed for admission of white and Asian "litigation buffers" with undergraduate GPA's and LSAT scores as low as those of the "black and chicano students" who were admitted under the "diversity" program, "had doubled the number of lower-scoring students, and the downward pull on the school's overall bar passage rate was twice as strong."

Magavern now writes that UCLA Law's diversity program "ensures that the school enrolls the smartest, best qualified applicants possible. Standards are not lowered; they are raised."

However, as I reported in a letter to the Daily Journal (March 10), the nationwide attrition rate (for academic reasons) in ABA accredited law schools is over three times higher for blacks and Hispanics than it is for whites. Also, the July 1994 California bar passage rates for first-time takers are significantly lower for blacks and Hispanics. I don't believe this has anything to do with race. Whites and Asians would perform just as poorly if the same percentage of their ranks were filled with B and C students, rather than A students.

Graham writes that his name was "misplaced" by being in my article. I mentioned his name once -- as one of the professors Magavern said he interviewed. I never said that Graham supported racial preferences in admissions.

Graham writes that there are "virtually no students from impoverished families and only a handful from those of modest means" at UCLA Law and if "it were not for the program Mr. Favish denounces, the tilt toward the wealthy would be even worse."

The program I expressly denounce is that of racial preferences, not poverty preferences. I am unaware of any data showing that UCLA Law must use racial preferences in order to admit a greater proportion of poor applicants. However, my belief that the applicants best qualified to study law should be admitted over less qualified applicants implicitly rules out a poverty preference, but it does not rule out consideration of an applicant's poverty to the extent that it makes the applicant's grades and test scores unreflective of the applicant's true intellectual ability.

Baker writes that I admit that UCLA Law's post-Bakke admissions system was "consistent with the constitutional standards set out" in Powell's opinion. This is a misleading characterization. Under Powell's opinion race was only permitted as an admissions factor to the extent it was a proxy for underrepresented "outlooks and ideas" that would enhance the education of fellow students. In the absence of evidence that race is such a proxy, Powell's opinion does not sanction its use.

Baker writes that my problem with UCLA Law's system is that it "lets too many non-white students into our law schools" and that I "don't want minorities (or women) to advance in education or employment."

Nowhere in my article do I advocate the use of race or sex as an admissions factor. I do not care about the racial or gender composition of the student body. In fact, my article calls for UC to publish admissions data in order "to ensure that UC law and medical school personnel eliminate race as an admissions factor."

Los Angeles Daily Journal, 10/17/95, p. 7, as modified.  The Los Angeles Daily Journal is the city's primary newspaper for the legal community.

The letter refers to my article "A Diverse History" that was published in the Daily Journal on July 27, 1995. That article was excerpted from a larger article that appears in Volume 27 of the University of West Los Angeles Law Review. Rather than post the shorter Daily Journal article, the larger article as it appears in the law review is posted at this web site and should be read before reading this letter to the editor.

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