Archive for ‘Law School’

March 17, 2011

Various Articles Lead to the Same Conclusion: Women’s Experiences in Law School are Unique

by Angela N. Johnson

Taken together, the articles reflected upon in “Hey There’s Ladies Here!” persuade the authors “that a substantial proportion of law students – many, but by no means all of them, women students – experience frustration, or alienation, or both, because of law schools’ failure to engage and develop the full range of intellectual capacities necessary for successful and responsible practice . . . legal education must be broadened and deepened to encompass neglected but important aspects of the intellectual work that legal professionals do” (Berger, et al. 1998, 1025).

“Hey There’s Ladies Here!” reflects on Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change by Lani Guinier, Michelle Fine, and Jane Balin, Women in Legal Education: A Comparison of the Law School Performance and Law School Experiences of Women and Men by Linda F. Wightman, Law School Admissions Council, What Difference Does Difference Make?: The Challenge for Legal Education by Elizabeth Mertz with Wamucci Njogu and Susan Gooding, and Cultivating Intelligence: Power, Law, and the Politics of Teaching by Louise Harmon and Deborah W. Post.

read more »

Advertisements
Tags:
March 17, 2011

An Invisible Gender Divide on Law School Faculties

by Angela N. Johnson

According to McGinley, author of “Reproducing Gender on Law School Faculties, ” an invisible gender divide exists on law school faculties; not only are women in the minority of law school faculties, they also teach a disproportionate number of female-identified courses. Moreover, “Choice” is not the cause of the disparity between men and women law professors. McGinley argues that women will attain equal status on law school faculties only after hidden gendered practices are made visible. 

“From academic year 1998-99 to academic year 2007-08, the percentage of women law school deans rose from 10.4% to 19.8%.  Their proportion of full professors grew from 20% to 29.3% of the population.  Unfortunately, however, women represent 61.3% of lecturers and 65.4% of instructors.  In contrast, men represent the vast majority of high-paying and high-prestige positions, 80.2% of deans, 70.7% of full professors, but a minority of low-paying and low-prestige positions, 38.7% of lecturers and 34.6% of instructors” (McGinley 2009, 102-103).  Though women law graduates are continuing to increase in proportion to male graduates, McGinley points to Vicki Schultz’s study indicating that “choice” of employment is shaped by the work environment and that women react to opportunities and conditions at work to determine what type of work they desire in the first place.  In other words, women may be more interested in traditionally male-dominated jobs if they conditions were made attractive to do so (McGinley 2009, 103).  Statistics show that women have a disincentive in choosing legal academia as a career choice because they are more likely to earn lower-pay and teach less prestigious courses. This disparity in legal academia mirrors higher education disciplines as well.  For example, “women predominate in institutions with less status and pay like community colleges and in jobs that are either part-time or not on the tenure track” (McGinley 2009, 104, citing Judith Glazer-Raymo, The Feminist Agenda: A Work in Progress, in Unfinished Agendas: New and Continuing Gender Challenges in Higher Education 1, 5-9 (Judith Glazer-Raymo ed., 2008)).

read more »

Tags:
March 17, 2011

Socializing Both Sexes in the Classroom

by Angela N. Johnson

 

By implementing a feminist critique (defined as promoting a caring, results-oriented approach to the law, based on preserving relationships, nurturing, and expressing an ethic of care and compassion) in addition to the current teaching methods (logos/masculine), both men and women will realize greater success in law school. Methods beyond the current archaic arbitrator/adversarial model of teaching must be utilized. Moreover, instilling empathy and teaching dispute resolution skills in law school will promote the most effective lawyering and will benefit the students as future lawyers and the clients they serve (Proctor 2004, 585-589). Proctor argues “introducing the values traditionally associated with women, and traditionally undervalued, because an emphasis on collaboration, context, emotions, ethics and empathy will effectuate a much needed socialization of both sexes” (Proctor 2004, 578).

read more »

Tags:
March 16, 2011

Not Our Mother’s Law School (A Glimmer of Hope)

by Angela N. Johnson

The article undertaken by students of a gender law course at Chicago-Kent School of Law entitled, “Not Our Mother’s Law School?” is especially insightful because it is an “update” to the 90’s studies and confirms that what was true then is still true now.  Additionally, previous studies have been focused on notoriously “top” law schools (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, University of California-Berkley), whereas this study takes place at the Chicago-Kent School of Law which is a “Tier 2” law school, and has been for quite some time.  This is relevant because when I had read the previous studies that focused on top law schools in the 1990’s, I began to hypothesize that women’s experiences in law schools were 1) different in the 90’s and more on-par with male’s experiences in the 2000’s; and 2) that women’s experiences at top law schools were different than at law schools outside of the top 20 on U.S. News & World Reports law school rankings.  This study is valuable in that the authors first reviewed nineteen works related to women’s experiences in law school, spanning from 1987 to 2006; many of which I have also read.  This provides the authors with a foundation for comparing the previous works.

Research Question 1: Had women’s experiences in law school changed since Guinier and her colleagues first undertook their study in 1994? 

Research Question 2: Were women’s experiences at Chicago-Kent different than those at more prestigious schools, especially since Chicago-Kent had admitted women since the 1890’s?

Answer: Experiences had not changed, but the performance gap has decreased (when comparing Guinier’s results of the University of Penn study to this study of Chicago-Kent)

read more »

Tags:
March 16, 2011

Reducing the “Becoming Gentlemen” Affect by Increasing Female Law Faculty

by Angela N. Johnson

Carlson’s review of Lanie Guinier’s  “Becoming Gentlemen” argues that the alienation of women and minors continues in law school and that institutions must focus on institutional acceptance and absorption of diversity in place of the imposition of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality (Carlson 1998, 317).  Additionally, Guinnier’s “latest work provides a timely contribution to the defense of affirmative action policies in law school faculty hiring decisions” (Carlson 1998, 318). However, Carlson’s review of “Becoming Gentlemen” “concludes that while Guinier’s findings are valauble, law schools need to first focus on providing women with equal access to desirable faculty positions before her recommendations can become a meaningful reality” (Carlson 1998, 318).

Hypothesis: In order for women law students to achieve equal experiences in law school, law schools must increases the proportion of women faculty because they will serve as mentors to women law students. To do this, affirmative action programs which have recently come under attack, must be defended.

read more »

Tags:
March 15, 2011

Inequality in Law School – Let’s Keep Talking!

by Angela N. Johnson

Take off that duct tape! Let's keep talking!

Judith Resnik, in “A Continious Body: Ongoing Conversations about Women and Legal Education” argues:

  1. In spite of many advancements in legal academy, equality has not yet come into being and the subject of achieving equality should not yet be ignored as having been conquered. In other words, let’s keep talking!
  2. To achieve equality, there must be more women faculty.
  3. Equality in the legal academy is important because it is the academy that addresses how assumptions about gender, ace, and ethnicity shape the law, and in turn, about what role law plays, has played, and should play in making those concepts meaningful  (Resnik 2003, 568).

read more »

Tags:
March 14, 2011

Legal Education, Feminist Epistemology, and the Socratic Method

by Angela N. Johnson

Susan Williams is a professor of law at Indiana University School of Law (Bloomington) and previously clerked on the D.C. Circuit for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (my absolute heroine).  Williams’ article, “Legal Education, Feminist Epistemology, and the Socratic Method,” examines the use of the Socratic Method and other pedagogies and the impact they may have on educating women.  She also examines other articles on this subject, most notably, Deborah Rhodes’ paper, which criticizes both the style and substance of contemporary legal education from a feminist point of view (finding the pedagogy to be hierarchical and authoritarian, emphasizing students’ inadequacies and encouraging counterproductive competitiveness).

Time for a New Pedagogy?

Williams believes that the way law is taught (taking emotions, morals, and values out of the discussion) hinders learning, especially for women.  “That is, we cannot really understand a case without understanding its context and its personal impact.  The knowledge afforded by the traditional legal curriculum is, therefore, woefully inadequate to the task of lawyering and also, I believe, to the task of thinking about the law.  In other words, there is an epistemological failure here as well as a moral failure” (S. H. Williams 1993, 1573). Further, the use of the Socratic Method, seemingly harmless, “has become the repository for all of the problems of mainstream epistemology” (S. H. Williams 1993, 1574).

read more »

Tags:
March 14, 2011

Questions on the Status of Women Law Students

by Angela N. Johnson

After studying the status of female students at the University of Iowa Law School, where Jean C. Love is a professor, she identified twenty questions that would reveal the status of women law students at any given law school.  These questions can be used by administrators to identify areas that are lacking and prospective students concerned about gender discrimination or disparity.  When she utilized these questions to examine where women stood at her own school she found that:

  1. The qualifications of the entering female students were comparable to those of the entering male students;
  2. The grade point averages of the female students at the end of their first year were comparable to those of the male students; [1]
  3. The grade point averages of the female students at the end of their third year were comparable to those of the male students;[2]
  4. Women were selected for membership in The Order of the Coif in proportion to their representation in the class;
  5. The percentage of male and female students who participated in law school activities were comparable; [3]
  6. The percentage of male and female students who received faculty-chosen honors upon graduation were comparable. 

read more »

Tags:
March 14, 2011

Legal Education Reform, Diversity, and Access to Justice

by Angela N. Johnson

Anderson’s article, “A Legal Education Prospectus,”  is in response to three reports in reforming legal education: The MacCrate Report, Best Practices, and the Carnegie Report.  It is Anderson’s belief that while all three reports provide helpful information and ideas for reform, none examine the grave crisis in lack of legal representation to those belonging to minority and disadvantaged groups and how law schools hold the power (by admitting more diverse students) to change the legal profession crisis.  This article is focused on minorities’ lack of presence in law school transferring to a lack of non-lawyer minorities’ lack of legal representation and access to justice.  However, parallels are drawn to the issue between minorities and women, such as the fact that both students of color and female students are often attracted to experiential learning opportunities and may better flourish in a curriculum that integrates doctrinal theory and practical skills and that such experiential and clinical courses aid the poor and disenfranchised which furthers the access to legal help to those in need.   

read more »

Tags:
March 14, 2011

A Forked River Runs Through Law School

by Angela N. Johnson

Timothy Clydesdale examines the differences in race, gender, and age on law school performance and bar passage using Law School Admissions Council data (the Bar Passage Study or “BPS”) which includes a dataset of 27,478 entering law students, along with their grade point averages, LSAT scores, bar examination results (up to five attempts) and of course the race, gender, and age of those individuals.  Having this detailed information allows Clydesdale to reveal how race, gender, or age might impact one’s predisposition for success.  Moreover, by controlling for various factors (which I will explain further in this summary) Clydesdale is able to hypothesize why or why not such predispositions within a given class (race, gender, age) may appear.  For example, once Clydesdale had determined that students over the age of 30 earned inferior grades to those under 30, Clydesdale was able to pinpoint why that might be – that rather than physical age, it is that students over the age of 30 have a greater likelihood to experience life events during the 1L year which hinder the student’s success, restrictions on study time (due to family responsibilities and demands), and a greater chance of being impacted by physical illness.  Nevertheless, there is a “4% gap in passage rates between those bar examinees who began law school at age 30 or older and their younger counterparts” (Clydesdale 2004, 713).  Clydesdale determines that law school grades correspond directly to bar passage rates; so knowing that law students over thirty are more likely to earn lower grades, it is not surprising that this also translates to lower bar passage rates.  Most importantly, Clydesdale sheds light on the disparity between the groups and even the disparity in six-categories of law schools. 

read more »

Tags: