Female representation in the law is important to us here at Enjuris. Because it’s so important, we make a point to keep our eye on the ever-changing demographics of the nation’s law schools.
Recently, we took a close look at the gender breakdown of law schools in 2018 and compiled the latest Law School Rankings by Female Enrollment report, which details the percentage of women in various law schools, including the country’s 20 top-ranked law schools.
Here are the highlights of what we found:
Women outpace men in law school for the third year in a row
According to data collected by the American Bar Association (ABA), women outnumbered men in law school classrooms across the country for the third year in a row in 2018.
Specifically, women made up 52.39% of all students in law schools, while men made up 47.51% of all law students and a small percentage (0.10%) of law students identified as “other.”
The best law schools for female representation
The schools in the chart below rank in the top 20 nationally for female enrollment.
- North Carolina Central University (66.85%)
- Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (66.21%)
- Northeastern University (65.76%)
- Howard University (65.7%)
- University of the District of Columbia (63.97%)
- New England Law | Boston (63.65%)
- Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Puerto Rico (62.36%)
- American University (62.21%)
- St. Thomas University (61.16%)
- Florida A&M University (61.06%)
- University of La Verne (60.7%)
- Inter American University of Puerto Rico (60.2%)
- Seattle University (60.2%)
- Pace University (59.97%)
- University of California-Berkeley (59.73%)
- Whittier Law School (59.65%)
- City University of New York (59.52%)
- Texas Southern University (59.46%)
- Florida Coastal School of Law (59.42%)
- Boston University (59.3%)
Is the percentage of women attending law school reflected in the profession?
While the number of women enrolled in law school continues to grow, women are still underrepresented in the industry – especially in leadership positions.
According to a 2018 report from the ABA, even though women comprise 45% of law firm associates, they account for only 18% of equity partners in private law firms and that number has barely increased over the past 10 years.
What’s more, the percentage of women serving as general counsel for Fortune 500 companies was only 26.4% in 2017, and the numbers are similarly disproportionate for law school deans (32.4%) and federal and state level judges (27.1%).
Perhaps even more concerning, women are leaving the legal field at what should be the height of their careers. The trend has been so troubling that ABA President Hilarie Bass launched a special initiative in 2017 to determine why women are leaving the field and what can be done about it.
Despite a relatively equal level of satisfaction with the practice of law, women experience far more harassment and gender bias in the profession than men. They are perceived as less committed and disproportionately denied salary increases and bonuses.
While the 2018 law school data is encouraging and and we look forward to seeing this trend continue, there’s clearly more work to be done to ensure that the numbers carryover to the profession itself.