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Women make up nearly two-thirds of the new class at University of California-Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, but the number of African-American students enrolled continues to be less than half that of the classes before the passing of California Proposition 209, according to enrollment figures released last week. In 1996, Prop. 209 dismantled all affirmative action programs in the state. Continuing a trend that began in 1995, when 50.8 percent of the school’s first-year class consisted of women, the percentage this year rose to 63.7 percent. Nationwide, this year marks the first time more women than men have applied to law school, according to preliminary figures from the Law School Admission Council. “We’re ahead of the wave by about four years,” said John Dwyer, dean of Boalt Hall. Ethnic and racial minority students account for almost 29 percent of this year’s student body, compared with 22 percent last year. Whites make up 49 percent of the incoming class, compared with 56 percent last year. Since fall of 1997, when Boalt first eliminated affirmative action in enrollment, Dwyer said the school has significantly stepped up its outreach methods to compensate. These efforts include pitching Boalt Hall’s program to pre-law advisors at undergraduate programs and increasing the school’s presence at undergraduate conferences. Still, just seven African-American students enrolled this year. Seven enrolled last year, eight in 1998 and just one in 1997, compared with 20 in 1996 and 21 in 1995. “I do think it’s a lot better than it was the year after [the passing of Proposition] 209,” Dwyer said. He added that diversifying the student body “will never be resolved by a single meeting or one recruitment. You can’t fix these things in one year.”

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