According to the LSAC:

"Historically, minority group members have been underrepresented in the legal profession. The law school population (as well as the legal profession) does not reflect accurately the vibrant and expanding minority population in our society. To promote diversity, law schools actively seek qualified African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American students, as well as other students of color. Law schools increasingly find that diversity within the classroom enriches the learning process for all students. This diversity might include contrasting economic, educational, and geographical backgrounds; different sexual orientations; varied familial or other personal experiences; or unusual careers."

In 2004, the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger held that law schools may consider race "in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body" under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Most agree that, in terms of admissions criteria, "under-represented minorities" (URMs) include African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, but not Asian-Americans. While most law schools also positively consider other diversity criteria such as socio-economic background, disability, or sexual orientation, none of these, in general, is as much of a "plus" factor in admissions as URM status. Therefore, students usually self-identify as URM if they are African American, Latino, or Native American.