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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/4/2015

Contact: Lauren DiTullio

617-778-1944

Boston Bar Association Speaks Out on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin: “Diversity in higher education is essential”

November 2, 2015 (BOSTON, Massachusetts) – Speaking out in support of diversity in higher education, the BBA today filed an amicus brief in the second Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case addressing the undergraduate university’s race-conscious admissions policy. The BBA was joined in its amicus brief by a coalition of organizations united by a shared commitment to advancing diversity in the legal profession.

The first Fisher case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, was remanded to the Fifth Circuit for failing to apply strict scrutiny in its decision upholding the university’s race-conscious admissions policy.  The BBA filed an amicus brief in Fisher I in August 2012.  The Fifth Circuit endorsed the University’s use of racial preference in its admissions policy a second time in July 2014, and the Supreme Court agreed this summer to hear the case again.  Oral argument is set for December 9, 2015.

The BBA’s amicus brief in Fisher II again argues that state efforts to promote diversity in education serve a compelling governmental interest that is directly relevant to the goals of the legal profession, because under-representation of lawyers of color harms the legal profession and society as a whole. 

“Diversity within the legal profession could not be achieved without a continuous pipeline of diverse law school students, and diversity at the law school level, in turn, could not be supported without diverse representation in undergraduate institutions,” said Jon Albano, a partner at Morgan Lewis and an officer of the BBA, who drafted the amicus brief in both cases. “The limited use of race in college admissions is vital to the legal profession’s goals of achieving racial and ethnic diversity. Without diversity, the legal profession cannot reflect the society it serves, an outcome that ultimately erodes public confidence in the judicial system.” 

Joining the BBA in signing the brief are the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys, Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys, Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston and the Women’s Bar Association.

The Boston Bar Association traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the nation’s second president. Its mission is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, serve the community at large and promote diversity and inclusion.