Girls rule: A number of law schools see female enrollment growth


For several years running, women have made up the majority of the nation’s law students. And while statistics for this year’s entering class won’t be available for a while, it appears that women are still making strides.

Take the University of Mississippi School of Law. For the first time, this year’s class has more women than men. They surged by 11 percent year-over-year and make up 53% of the class.

“The law is applicable to all of us, so we need to have all voices included in that conversation,” Stacey Lantagne, associate dean for faculty development, told the Daily Mississippian. “The more women that are in a classroom, the more likely female students are to speak up.” 

The University of Alabama School of Law’s newest class also has — for the first time, as well — a majority of female students, at 53%.

“On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, it seems appropriate that women are now attending law schools in numbers commensurate with their presence in the larger population,” Mark E. Brandon, dean of UA’s School of Law, noted in an article on the school’s website.

“Women in law school are achieving at the highest levels, and it’s important that we, as a society, are beginning to benefit more fully from the talents and contributions of all members, regardless of sex,” he said.

The University of Southern California, Gould School of Law’s newest class is 57% female, the highest ever. For the first time in a decade, women make up the majority of this year’s incoming class at West Virginia University College of Law, at 53%.

“Just over 50 percent of our population is women, but only 38 percent of all lawyers in the U.S. are women,” said Gregory Bowman, dean of the school, in a statement. “The legal profession still has a long way to go before truly representing the diversity of the United States.”

Women first became the majority in law schools in 2016 and continued to do so in 2017 and 2018. And the gap is slowly growing. In 2018, women made up 52.39% of law school students, up from 51.3% from the year before.

Some schools have much wider disparities. For instance, at UC Berkeley School of Law, 60% of this year’s class are women. At UC Davis School of Law, the number is 58%.

An analysis of American Bar Association (ABA) statistics for last year’s entering class by Enjruis, a legal resource for accident victims, found that the school with the most women students was North Carolina Central University School of Law at 66.85%.

This year’s entering class is at 65.98%

So where are the dudes? According to that analysis, Concordia Law School had the lowest percentage of women in 2018 at 34.3%. Pennsylvania State University Dickenson Law was next at 40.1%

So why is there growth in women going to law school? Could it be a certain president? Yahoo Finance posted a story earlier this year, titled: “Trump is Driving Women into Law School.”

It notes how women are more likely to be upset with President Trump’s policies and have been outnumbering men in applying to law school. The story says:

“As recently as 2013, women were still a minority among applicants to U.S. law schools. This year they accounted for 55%. So U.S. law schools will for at least the next few years be churning out more smart, politically engaged, probably left-leaning lawyers, most of them women.”

While women may be making inroads when it comes to law school, they still have a ways to go in the profession. According to a 2018 ABA report, women made up 22.7% of partners in private law firms and 26.4 percent of general counsels in Fortune 500 firms.

The legal education watchdog organization, Law School Transparency, recently did a six-part podcast on challenges facing women in law. Here's a link