Back in 2010, we brought our readers some news on the state of women’s representation on the mastheads of the nation’s law reviews. According to a study conducted by Ms. JD, on the whole, women at the 2009 U.S. News top 50 law schools were doing just fine in terms of overall law review membership and leadership positions. Good news, right?

Ms. JD conducted a similar study for 2011-2012, using the 2011 U.S. News top 50 law schools, and made the following findings:

  • The overall percentage of women who are members of law reviews, 42.75 percent, correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 47.3 percent.
  • The percentage of women in leadership positions on law reviews, 41.53 percent, also correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 47.3 percent.

That’s where the good news ends, because when it came to the position of editor-in-chief, the number of women holding the title in Ms. JD’s first study was “disproportionately low,” at just 33 percent. This year, that percentage was even lower — only 28.6 of the EICs at the nation’s top 50 law schools were women. Keep in mind that these are the women who are expected to go on to become law professors, federal judges, Biglaw partners, and Fortune 500 general counsels.

Why, then, are they being overlooked for the title of editor-in-chief, year after year?

How are we supposed to be excited about survey results that rank women’s participation on law reviews as “just fine” when men continue to reign supreme? Perhaps law reviews at the nation’s top 50 law schools are something of a good old boys’ club, which is a common criticism of the legal profession itself.

Compare Ms. JD’s findings with the results of a diversity study conducted by New York Law School — a study that evaluated law reviews at ABA-accredited law schools outside the U.S. News top 50 — which revealed that not only are more women represented on law review staff at lower-ranked schools (46 percent), but that more women hold the envied position of EIC (33 percent). To access the NYLS study’s findings, click here (PDF).

In my own experience, and speaking as a former law review staff member, every single editor-in-chief of my school’s law review has been a woman since 2007. There’s no real reason why more law schools in the top 50 can’t do better in terms of reaching a greater gender equality among their top brass.

Do you have differing views on why this wouldn’t be possible? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Women on Law Review: A Gender Diversity Report [Ms. JD]
Gender Diversity Report [Ms. JD (PDF)]
Law Review Diversity Report [New York Law School (PDF)]

Earlier: The Ladies of Law Review: Mostly Good News


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