Women Constitute Majority of Law Students

Jan 10, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released its 2016 statistics and revealed that for the first time, women outnumber men as JD students.  According to the ABA Journal, Deborah Merritt, a professor at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, found that 50.32 percent of law students at ABA-accredited schools are women.  On Law School Café, she writes, “It’s a milestone to celebrate—but also one to view with caution.”

Here’s why: while more women are studying law, they’re at the least prestigious law schools.  She notes that schools that rank better on the US News ranking enroll a smaller percentage of female students.   What does this mean?  Job placements.  Women are more likely to attend law schools with weaker job placement prospects than men. 

Why the discrepancy?  Merritt and her research partner Kyle McEntee suggest that some of the blame for the skewed acceptance rates of women to lower ranked law schools could lie within the US News rankings themselves.  A lot of focus on the rankings correlates with LSAT scores—and while women tend to have higher GPAs than men, they tend to score lower on the LSAT.  Many law schools offer scholarships based on LSAT scores.  In the ABA Journal, they say, “So, as schools chase LSAT scores to polish their US News rank, women get the short end of the stick.”

Merritt’s suggestion? Correct gender bias in the profession.  The Law School Transparency Project offers a great place to start.  

Learn more about studying law in the US

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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