Latravious Johnson always wanted what he calls a top-tier career. As a child, his parents suggested ideas for his future profession — doctor, dentist, lawyer. Becoming a lawyer seemed like the right fit.
“It’s been my path,” he said.
Johnson is an African-American student in his first year of law school at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.
Minorities made up 33.8 percent of his incoming class in fall 2014, or 104 of 309 admitted students, according to a class profile from the law-school website. This is a jump from 26.8 percent in the 2010-11 academic year, where 83 out of 310 admitted students were minorities.
Nationally, there has been a steady decrease in applications of minorities to law schools. From 2012 to 2013, African-American applicants dropped 9.4 percent, according to a Law School Admission Council annual report.
However, minority enrollment at Florida State University and University of Florida has increased. UF Law’s minority enrollment as a whole went up 1 percent from the fall 2013 entering class to the fall 2014 class.
In 2014, 29 out of the 309 incoming law students were African-American. Another 28 were Hispanic. From 2013, African-American enrollment decreased 1.7 percentage points and Hispanic enrollment increased 2.7 percentage points, according to Matt Walker, assistant director of communications for the UF Levin College of Law.
In 2014, 29 out of the 309 incoming law students were African-American. Another 28 were Hispanic.
Jennifer Kessinger, the director of admissions for Florida State University’s College of Law, said the school’s enrollment of minorities increased in the last admission cycle.
“We had a total of 30.85 percent minority enrollment in our 2014 first-year class, compared to a total of 19.41 percent minority enrollments in our 2013 entering first-year class,” she said.
Kessinger said Florida State’s unified student body and support among students has contributed to the rise in minority enrollment.
The FSU Black Law Student’s Association won two advocacy competitions and Chapter of the Year at a regional meeting the weekend of Jan. 24. In 2014, Hispanic Business ranked the law school second in the nation for Hispanic students behind Florida International University’s law school.
Eleven percent of applicants to FSU Law in 2014 were African-American and 19 percent were Hispanic, Kessinger said. The school’s total incoming fall 2014 class consisted of 188 students, 15 of which were black and 30 of which were Hispanic.
According to data from the 2010 Census, 16 percent of Floridians were African-American and 22.5 percent were Hispanic or Latino.
Growing up, Johnson said, he saw other minority students disadvantaged by an education system he said was systematically stacked against them.
“If I didn’t care about my education, it wasn’t going to be cared about,” Johnson said. “A lot of black kids weren’t in gifted programs.”
Having more diversity in the legal system would help level the playing field, Johnson said.
“Once you get to a point, you have to give back to your community and your culture,” he said. “If there were more minorities in the legal system, they could help see the injustices.”