Women underrepresented as law review EICs, study finds

A new study finds that law schools with diverse faculties are also likely to have diverse law review memberships. But, only 31 percent of Editor In Chief positions at law reviews are held by women.

“This report is a reminder that, while women comprise roughly half of the enrolled students in J.D. programs, they are underrepresented in law review EIC positions,” said Stephanie Chichetti 3L, features editor at New York Law School  Law Review and a co-author of the report. “This issue is magnified when exploring the long-term career paths for female attorneys, where women are underrepresented in law firm partnerships and judgeships.”

The New York Law School Law Review issued the diversity report, its second annual look at female and minority student representation among law review membership and leadership, based on research conducted in collaboration with Ms. JD, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession.

The report includes information that Ms. JD compiled from 35 law reviews at law schools ranked in the Top 50 by U.S. News & World Report, as well as information NYLS compiled from law reviews at 50 additional ABA-approved law schools that are ranked outside the Top 50.

Ms. JD's study found that the participation of women on Law Reviews at the top 50 law schools correlated strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period. But the number of women editors-in-chief was disproportionately low, dropping from 33 percent to 28.6 percent.

“This year's data shows that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equity in law review leadership," said Katie Larkin-Wong, president of Ms. JD. "Ms. JD remains committed to encouraging women to take on these leadership positions by posting interviews with female EICs on our blog and sharing best practices for promoting women’s membership on law journals through the National Women Law Students’ Organization.”

The report found that “The low percentage of women EICs may foreshadow low percentages of women in leadership in the legal profession. When viewed in the context of female achievement in the legal profession (chart below), the results raise the question of whether the low percentage of female EICs (31 percent) is a precursor to the low percentages of women on state and federal benches, in law firm partnerships, and as general counsel of Fortune 500 companies.”

“For the second year in a row, our research indicates that the presence of women on a law school’s full-time faculty is related to greater gender diversity of law review membership, but we didn’t see a correlation with women in the EIC position,” said Marcey Grigsby, who directs NYLS’s research as faculty publisher of the Law Review. “Learning more about the nature of that relationship could be important in understanding some of the factors that impact achievement among female law students.”

NYLS’s full report is available at http://www.nylslawreview.com/diversity. The full Ms. JD Women on Law Review report can be found at http://ms-jd.org/women-law-review-gender-diversity-report.