Who runs the world? Girls…in law school that is.
For the first time ever, women make up the majority of law students. With over 50 percent admitted into ABA accredited law schools, women seeking their juris doctorate are climbing their way to the top. According to the ABA report released at the end 2016, laws schools currently enroll 55,766 women, compared to 55,059 male law students.
The report also included statistics on 1Ls who enrolled this fall. The numbers show 19,032 female 1Ls and 18,058 male 1Ls.
Some believe this increase of women enrolling in law school comes from the tightening of standards that ABA accredited law schools are seeing after the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar escaped a suspension last fall. As a result, the ABA Council is keeping a closer eye on law schools, ensuring they meet standard measures like LSAT score and GPA requirements. Thus, some say, schools are marketing more to women who make up 57.1% of those earning undergraduate degrees.
However, in spite of this, many women are choosing not to attend law school.
Interestingly enough, females make up 59.9% of all those receiving masters degrees and 51.8% of doctoral degrees, yet just slightly over 50% of juris doctorate applicants are women. According to one report, 3.4% of all male college graduates apply to law school, compared to 2.6% of female graduates. Therefore, if the same number of women applied as males, women’s applications to law school could increase by 16%.
Even if that were the case, there may still be a gender gap, once these women enter the profession.
Despite more women attending law school, fewer women than men are placed into full-time jobs that require passing the bar exam. This is strongly related to law school rank. Female students only comprise 47% of top-tier law schools, compared to some of the lowest ranked schools enrolling a student body made up of 53.5% women.
This may come from the fact that law schools stress the importance of LSAT scores, which women on average score lower than their male counterparts. As law schools fight for the highest US News Ranking, this could put more women in some of the lower ranked schools. That and the financial aid aspect. Often times, high LSAT scores mean more scholarship money for law students.
That being said, only time will tell what’s in store for these women enrolled in law school. Maybe the job placement gap will close. Women law students have come a long way over the years. Here’s to hoping women lawyers shatter the glass ceiling.