The New York Law School Law Review (NYLS) has issued its 2010–2011 Law Review Diversity Report examining female and minority representation among the membership and leadership, including editors in chief, of general interest law reviews or journals at ABA-accredited law schools. According to the report, law reviews at schools with a high percentage of female full-time faculty and schools with a high percentage of minority full-time faculty had, on average, significantly greater gender diversity among their student membership and leadership, as well as a higher rate of female editors in chief (“EIC”), than law reviews at law schools ranked in the Top 50 by U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”).
Results for Law Reviews at Schools with a High Percentage of Female Full-Time Faculty:
•The average percentage of female law review members in this sample was 52.2 percent, compared with 44.3 percent among law reviews at the Top 50 law schools.
•The average percentage of female students holding law review leadership positions was 58.6 percent in this sample, compared with 46.2 percent among law reviews at Top 50 schools.
•60 percent of EICs in this sample were women, compared to just 33 percent of EICs at law reviews in the Top 50 sample.
Results for Law Reviews at Schools with a High Percentage of Minority Full-Time Faculty:
•The average percentage of female law review members in this sample was 58.6 percent, compared to 44.3 percent among law reviews at the Top 50 law schools.
•The average percentage of female students holding law review leadership positions in this sample was 64.1 percent, compared to 46.2 percent for law reviews in the Top 50 sample.
•46.2 percent of law reviews in this sample had a female editor in chief, compared to only 33 percent in the Top 50 sample.
•41.7 percent of law reviews in this sample that responded to the question of whether the EIC identified as a person of color answered in the affirmative.
The report compares self-reported data for the 2010–11 academic year collected by NYLS from law reviews in two samples—law reviews at schools with a high percentage of female full-time faculty and at law schools with a high percentage of minority full-time faculty—to the most recent data available for law reviews at schools ranked in the Top 50 by U.S. News, collected in 2010 by Ms. JD, an organization dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession.
“We were motivated to conduct this research by Ms. JD’s 2010 report showing that law reviews at Top 50 schools lagged in female leadership, which is in contrast to our own law review’s success in this area,” said Marcey Grigsby ’06, the New York Law School Law Review’s Faculty Publisher and one of its former editors in chief, who supervises the project. In the past nine years, 89 percent of the editors in chief at NYLS have been women. “As a result, we wanted to investigate what is happening at other law reviews and what factors might contribute to high rates of female and minority law review leadership.”
Although the NYLS samples were limited, the results suggest areas to explore in identifying factors driving or inhibiting diversity on law reviews, including whether there is any correlation between law review achievement of female students and minority students and law school rankings, faculty diversity, or other factors. The 2011–12 survey will go to the law review or journal at each ABA-accredited law school.
“Getting into law school is only half the battle—for better or worse, grades matter a lot and law review membership is one of the most prominent indicators of academic achievement,” said Dana Brodsky, one of four 3L editors who conducted the research. “Our survey shows a possible connection between the overall environment a school provides and the achievement of its women and minority students.”
Armed with this information, NYLS hopes that law schools and the wider legal education community will be in a better position to find ways to ensure that all law students get the most out of the educational opportunities law school offers, including law review membership.
“We know that law review membership has strong implications for post-graduation success in the legal field and wanted to determine whether the composition of a school’s faculty would have any impact on the success of female and minority students on law review,” said Jamie Sinclair 3L, an editor who conducted the research. “We are excited to continue our research and hope that these studies will become valuable tools in evaluating the success of diversity efforts at law schools and broadening the dialogue about female and minority leadership in the legal field more generally.”
The New York Law School Law Review will continue the research with its 2011–12 survey, which is now underway and will include the general interest law review or journal at every ABA-accredited law school. In addition, the New York Law School Law Review has published its own “diversity profile” on its Web site. Over the past nine years, 89 percent of its editors in chief were women; on average, 57 percent of its leadership positions were held by women; and 56 percent of the student scholarship it published was authored by women. During the same period, its average female membership was 53 percent and 54 percent of the school’s J.D. graduates were women.
The research was conducted by Dana Brodsky, Maria Cheung, Kelly Garner, and Jamie Sinclair, 2011–12 Features Editors of the Law Review and 2012 J.D. candidates at NYLS, under the supervision of the Law Review’s Publisher.
The report is available here.
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