Archive for February, 2011

February 17, 2011

Ms. JD’s Report on Women on Law Review

by Angela N. Johnson

Ms. JD is quickly becoming one of my most-visited websites as I research the subject of women in the legal profession.  There is a wealth of information and collaborative contributions to the site which bring information on a wide-array of topic areas.  Having the Ms. JD rss feed in my web browser has been a great way for me to stay current with the latest news. 

Ms. JD’s report on women on law review is very insightful.  Gender diversity data from general interest law reviews at the 2009 U.S. News “Top 50” law schools for the 2008-2010 academic years were analyzed and the results show that while overall percentages of women members of these law journals (44.3%) and women in leadership positions (46.2%) correlates strongly to the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period (45.7% in 2008), the number of women editors-in-chief is disproportionately low (33%) (Ms. JD).  This study focuses on women in membership and leadership positions because these activities are seen as valuable in obtaining legal jobs, specifically prestigious federal judicial clerkships and academic appointments. Obviously, disparate representation at these levels can disadvantage women seeking prestigious jobs in the legal profession.  The report is well-written and concise, so I encourage you to take five minutes and check it out, here.

Source Citation: Ms. JD. “Women on Law Review: A Gender Diversity Report.” Survey. 2010.

February 9, 2011

Separate But Equal (Law Schools) Is Unequal – Examining All-Women Law Schools in the 21st Century

by Angela N. Johnson

Shannan Ball’s “Separate But Equal is Unequal: The Argument Against An All-Women’s Law School” is in response to recent discussion on creating all-women law schools.  Aside from the content, I found this Note especially interesting because it was published in Notre Dame’s Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.  Why is that interesting? Well for one, I have been admitted and am considering attending in August.  Further, Notre Dame was the second to the last ABA-approved law school to admit women (their first woman law student was admitted in 1969).  Why so late in the 20th Century? It isn’t that the school was especially discriminatory against women students.  Rather, Notre Dame was an all-men’s school until roughly around that same time.  So in light of the school’s history of being a gender-segregated school until just a few decades ago, I found Ms. Ball’s note especially interesting – her argument is that gendered-segregated law schools would disadvantage both male and female law students. 

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February 2, 2011

Bullying in Law School

by Angela N. Johnson

Rebecca Flanagan’s article, “Lucifer Goes to Law School” is not in itself an article on women as law students, however it focuses on the underlying concerns of law students surveyed in the Yale study, Schwab’s survey, and the Law School Student Engagement research. Flanagan notes that due to the extreme shock of the first year of law school and the law school environment generally, “bullying behaviors [are] both a cause and a response to student depression, anxiety, and substance abuse . . . bullying is the unnamed missing link in the causal chain between the law school curriculum and the prevalence of depression and substance abuse in law schools” (Flanagan 453). Flanagan states that due to the research on the experience of women and students of color in law schools which has documented the deleterious impact of the law school environment on academic achievement, self-esteem, and confident of non-traditional students, women and minorities are likely hit the hardest. Though bullying rarely involves physical violence, the emotional and mental harms transfer to physical ailments in the form of substance abuse.

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February 2, 2011

Gendered Experiences in Law School Fade in the 2L and 3L Years

by Angela N. Johnson

Contrary to similar studies undertaken in previous years, Claire Schwab’s “A Shifting Gender Divide: The Impact of Gender on Education at Columbia Law School in the New Millennium” purports women’s experience in law school isn’t 180 degrees different from male students, rather it just isn’t a “gender-neutral one” (Schwab).  While other reports have indicated a radical difference in law school experience based on gender with an assumption that the disparity remains through all three-years of law study, Schwab discovers that most struggles in law school are felt by both male and female students and that experiences are largely the same with smaller varying degrees of differences felt by women students.  Further, any differences felt by 1L women law students are diminished in the 2L and 3L years.  Schwab argues that the experiences of women law students are first and foremost that of a first year student (of any gender), and only secondly that of a woman.  Surveys revealed that the same difficulties that plague female law students also concern male students; this “common nature” of the same concerns among both genders highlights the idea that women do not altogether survive an alternate or differing experience than their male classmates. 

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February 2, 2011

Timeline of Bar Admission

by Angela N. Johnson

When did your state permit women to practice law?



District of Columbia-1872









North Carolina-1878

United States Federal Court System-1875







New York-1886




New Hampshire-1890



South Dakota-1893



New Jersey-1895

West Virginia-1896







North Dakota-1905









New Mexico-1917

South Carolina-1918

Rhode Island-1920


Alaska – 1950

February 2, 2011

It Hurts Not to Be Beautiful

by Angela N. Johnson

“Not only does it hurt to be beautiful, it hurts not to be beautiful” -Rhode

Stanford Law Professor, former president of the Association of American Law Schools, and former chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, Deborah Rhode discusses “beauty discrimination” in her discussion on the price we pay for an undue emphasis on attractiveness.  Aside from money, appearance is the greatest source of women’s dissatisfaction.  “Attractive teachers get higher ratings from students and attractive students get higher intelligence ratings from teachers” (Rhode). Our nation doles out more money in cosmetics than education or social services and cosmetic surgery is the fastest-growing area of medical specialty. So what does this have to do with law and the legal profession?  Discrimination by protected class is illegal; beauty, though a common class of discrimination, is not protected (per recent court rulings in discrimination lawsuits).  According to Rhode, “Good looking lawyers are more likely to be hired, promoted, and earn higher salaries” (Rhode).  Watch Deborah Rhode discuss her research and book, “The Beauty Bias” during her hour-long forum which has been posted by Standford Law on Youtube.

Source Citation: Rhode, Deborah. The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law 22 October 2010.  Accessed via:

February 2, 2011

Female Law Student Demographics; Don’t Buy The Hype!

by Angela N. Johnson

A report published by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) yields insight into the gender disparity of law students for the years 1947-2008. It becomes clear in studying the charts of first year male enrollment and first year female enrollment, that women have never comprised one-half of 1L law students. This isn’t to say that women have not comprised half of 1L law students at any particular law school; in fact I’m sure this is likely. However, just one year (the 1992-1993 academic year) females comprised slightly more than half of all law students (49.6% men to 50.4% female (with a numerical difference of 1,076)).  However, the following year, the divide was sharp, with male law students comprising 56.9% and female law students at 43.1%.  Since then, women have continued to lag behind men in law school enrollment. What is further troubling is that the gap narrowed once again in the years 2000-2002, only to widen in the 2002-2003 academic year. In the 2000-2001 academic year total first year male enrollment was 22,019, compared to total first year female enrollment at 21,499; representing just a 520 person difference. The following year was also promising, with just a 562 person difference. However, in the 2002-2003 academic year the gap was blown wide open once again with a 1,259 disparity. It appears that while female enrollment jumped significantly (female first year enrollment increased by 1,333 from the previous year) first year male enrollment increased by 1.5x the rate of female enrollment (male first year enrollment increased by 2,030 from the previous year). Even more alarming is the fact that from 2002-2003, the gap continues to widen significantly, spiking in the 2006-2007 academic year.

Below are two graphs I created based on the ABA Data to further demonstrate the disparity:

Source: American Bar Association. “Enrollment and Degrees Awarded (1947-2008 Academic Years).” 2009.

February 1, 2011

Women Law Students Less Likely to Drop-Out

by Angela N. Johnson

Having previously analyzed ABA data on law student attrition rates (in terms of raw numbers) and on total enrollment individually, I came to the conclusion that my spreadsheet on attrition rates would yield much greater insight if I could convert the raw numbers (for example, x male students discontinued their law studies in year x) into actual percentages (x% of male students and x% of female students discontinued their law studies). The reason this was important to me was because women have never made up an equal percentage of law students.  In fact, my data analysis reflects that the disparity is increasing! So its nearly worthless to know x number of male students and x number of female students discontinued their studies without knowing the actual portion (or, percentage).  In other words, I compared the total 1L male enrollment vs. 1L male attrition and then separately compared the total 1L female enrollment vs. the 1L female attrition.

I was pleased to find that my hypothesis was correct; when accounting for male enrollment v. male attrition and female enrollment v. female attrition, women are more likely than men to continue their legal studies.  In fact, from 1981-2008 there were no years in which women 1L law student attrition rates (in percentages) were higher than male 1L law students. Moreover, there were just four total occurrences from 1981-2008 in which women’s attrition was higher than male students (3L attrition for females was higher than males in the 2005-2006 school year; 4L (part-time students in their final year) attrition for females was higher than males in the 2006-2007, 2005-2006, and 1986-1987 school years. However, these rates represent raw numbers and do not take into consideration the total proportion of male and female law students individually since total enrollment for 2L, 3L, and 4L is not available.  So it is extremely likely that the percentage of males maintaining a higher attrition rate stands across the board.

Below is the graph I created based on the ABA data: