Legal counsel discusses NIU admissions program

By Kevin Lyons

University Legal Counsel George Shur said he doesn’t see anything legally wrong with the NIU law school admissions program, but admits that it is a debatable issue.

“It’s perfectly legal from what I understand, and again I learned about the process in The Northern Star,” Shur said.

Shur said he is familiar with the type of system NIU follows, where no automatic admission or rejection system is used. Race, gender and background along with grades and test scores are all factors at NIU.

Law school admissions became an issue after quota policies at the University of California at Berkeley were questioned by a U.S. agency.

He cited an example of positive results from the system. He said sometimes a student’s success in law school may depend on experience more than grades.

“There is a general feeling that older students do better in law school because of life experience and maturity,” Shur said.

He said NIU’s system allows for diversity where an automatic system might not. Shur said a more open admission process would be useful in achieving a better mix in the classroom and the school, especially regarding experience.

Shur also commented on the question of striving toward increasing the racial diversity in law school.

“There have been very strong public arguments that professional schools should reflect the demographics of the areas they serve,” Shur said.

“The role model aspect of professional minorities is also quite important,” Shur said.

He said there is a great societal need for more minority professionals, especially in the law professions.

“It’s perfectly legal, but as to whether someone likes it—that’s a social issue that’s open to debate,” Shur said.