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Watch Out: Women Rising at Top Law Schools

Vivia Chen

February 5, 2019

Maybe it's the #MeToo movement or maybe it's the Donald Trump presidency. For whatever reason, women seem super motivated about going to law school. 

In fact, women now make up 52.39 percent of all students in ABA-approved law schools, based on 2018 data. That's the third year in a row that they've constituted over a majority of law students (in 2017, they were at 51.3 percent).

More significant, in my opinion, is that women's enrollment is up at the top 20 law schools. Women actually outnumber men at nine of those top 20 schools! (Last year, women were the majority only at six of the top schools.)

All this exciting news comes from Enjuris, a personal injury law site, that's been keeping a women's scorecard at the nation's law schools. Here's its summary of women's enrollment at the top 20 schools:

U.S. News Best Law Schools by female enrollment

Though the top five schools are still majority men, Enjuris points out that Yale, Stanford, Chicago and Harvard all saw an uptick in female enrollment.

And speaking of progress, I’d like to give a shoutout to Brigham Young University’s law school, which now has over 40 percent women, a notable improvement from years past when it ranked dead last for women. Amazingly, this September, BYU admitted more women than men for the first time in its history. It still has one of the lowest female enrollment, but, hey, it’s making remarkable strides—no small feat considering the conservative Mormon culture of the school.

And unlike last year, when the list of schools with the highest female enrollment was dominated by low-ranked or unranked schools (with the notable exception of Berkeley), this year’s list included No. 22-ranked Boston University Law School, No. 74 Northeastern and No. 80 American.

So will all these developments yield better results for women down the road? Will we wake up in 10 years to 50 percent or more female law partners, general counsel, judges, professors, heads of governmental agencies and so on?

Probably not. Still, let’s bask in the good news while we can.

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Twitter: @lawcareerist.


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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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