The following is an excerpt from the 2010-2011 Law Review Diversity Report. View the full report here.
Ms. JD, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession, published its Women on Law Review: Gender Diversity Report in August 2010, examining female membership and leadership on the law reviews at law schools ranked in the Top 50 by U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”). Ms. JD found that, although the percentage of female students on those law reviews (44.3%) and in leadership positions (46.2%) was in line with the percentage of women awarded law degrees during the same time period (45.7% in 2008), the representation of women in the editor-in-chief (“EIC”) position was “disproportionately low” at just 33%.
In 2011, the New York Law School Law Review (“NYLS”) expanded upon Ms. JD’s work by reporting the results of an NYLS survey of two samples of law reviews based on criteria other than the U.S. News rankings: the percentage of women and minorities who are members of a law school’s full-time faculty. In each of the three measures used in Ms. JD’s 2010 survey (i.e., rates of female law review membership and leadership, and gender of the EIC), law reviews in the two NYLS sample significantly outperformed those in the Top 50 sample
Based on self-reported data collected from law reviews in the two NYLS samples during the spring of 2011, NYLS found that, on average, law reviews at schools having a high percentage of female full-time faculty and at law schools having a high percentage of minority full-time faculty had significantly greater gender diversity among their 2010-2011 student membership and leadership than law reviews at the Top 50 schools surveyed by Ms. JD in 2010, as well as a higher rate of female EICs.
The results indicate that there may be a positive relationship between the percentage of female full-time faculty members at a law school and the representation of female students in membership and leadership of the school’s law review. On average, law reviews at schools with a high percentage of female full-time faculty reported significantly higher percentages of both female membership (52.2%) and female leadership (58.6%) than law reviews at Top 50 schools (44.3% and 46.2%, respectively), including 27% more female students at the editor-in-chief’s desk (60% as compared to 33%). Only 13.3%, however, had an EIC who identified as a person of color.
The results also suggest that there may be a positive relationship between the racial diversity of a law school’s full-time faculty and the achievement of female students as measured by their representation on law review. Law reviews at schools with a high percentage of minority full-time faculty also had significantly higher percentages of female membership (58.6%) and leadership (64.1%) than law reviews in the Top 50 sample (44.3% and 46.2%, respectively). In addition, 46.2% of these law reviews had a female EIC, compared to 33% of law reviews at Top 50 schools, and 41.7% had an EIC who was a person of color.
Based on these results, it appears that a number of law reviews at schools outside of the U.S. News Top 50 offer greater opportunity for female students to obtain the key credentials of law review membership and leadership and to hold the editor-in-chief position.