2009 Archive

ABA Hails Marjorie Shultz ’76 As One of America’s 50 ‘Legal Rebels’

By Andrew Cohen

The American Bar Association (ABA) Journal has named longtime Berkeley Law professor and social justice advocate Marjorie Shultz to its list of the nation’s 50 most prominent “Legal Rebels.”

For more than 10 years, Shultz has worked on the Law School Admissions Project to create a supplemental law school admission test with the promise to increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity across the American legal profession. Collaborating with UC Berkeley psychology professor Sheldon Zedeck, Shultz contends that while the LSAT may identify potentially outstanding law students, a broader approach is needed to determine who will ultimately become the best lawyers.

Shultz and Zedeck identified 26 characteristics that successful lawyers share, collected real-world examples of how such personal and interpersonal attributes play out in practice, and devised a test to measure those attributes (sample questions here).

They then administered the test to more than 1,000 lawyers who’d graduated from Berkeley Law and UC Hastings College of the Law between 1973 and 2006. Although the encouraging results showed no significant racial or gender group differences, securing funding for a national validation study has been difficult. More information about Shultz’s work is available here, and the full Law School Admissions Project report here.

On its Legal Rebels Web site, the ABA Journal is profiling each of its 50 selections with multimedia features such as video interviews, podcasts, and photo slideshows. The magazine praises Shultz and her fellow "Rebels" for pushing the legal profession to undergo a structural break with the past: “Dozens of lawyers nationwide aren’t waiting for change. Day by day, they’re remaking their corners of the profession. These mavericks are finding new ways to practice law, represent their clients, adjudicate cases, and train the next generation of lawyers.”

Shultz, who taught contracts, health law, and gender and race law at Berkeley from 1976–2008, won the law school’s Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction last year. She also received the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 1983, and the Society of American Law Teachers’ Achievement Award in 2000 for her contributions to legal education and equality.