National Women Law Students' Organization (NWLSO)

Ms. JD's student arm is the National Women Law Student's Organization (NWLSO). There are currently dozens of NWLSO chapters and affiliates across the country, and a growing individual membership. NWLSO's goal is to support female law students, in whatever capacity that may be, from brainstorming events to connecting chapters and affiliates with potential speakers to providing a blogging platform where your writing will be featured on a site that receives over 50,000 page views per month.

Below is some more information about what NWLSO chapters and affiliates look like, how to join NWLSO, and why you should consider joining NWLSO or starting a chapter on your campus. Keep in in mind that NWLSO chapters serve different functions on different campuses; we aim to tailor our support to the needs of your organization and student body, and so we want to work with you to find the institutional structure and relationship with NWLSO that works best for you and helps to make your organization a success! If you have any questions you can always feel free to reach out to Ms. JD’s NWLSO liaison, Liz Hague, directly, at nwlso@ms-jd.org.

If you’re an individual who is still pre-law, you might want to check out our pre-law resources.

Why join NWLSO?

Quite simply, NWLSO exists to support all law students. Ms. JD is the premier national organization for women in the law, and, by joining NWLSO you will gain access to the wide range of Ms. JD’s resources for women. And, by creating a NWLSO chapter at your law school, you will meet other women dedicated to supporting women in the legal profession. The connections you can make through a chapter will help you succeed in law school, find a job after you graduate, and continue to enhance your professional connections throughout your career.

Ms. JD often provides programming support to chapters and affiliates. From brainstorming events and panels to making connections between potential speakers and chapters, to providing you with a wider platform to publicize your events on our blog and social media platforms, we want to help you make your events a success.

Additionally, by creating formal ties to Ms. JD, you gain access to a national network of employers, mentors, and other students. Recently, Ms. JD has begun to connect students at different law schools in the same geographic area, with the goal of allowing students to make more connections and expanding the reach of Ms. JD within cities. In order to facilitate these connections, we have created NWLSO listservs in New York and the Bay Area. We hope these listservs are used to share events of interest, connect students with similar passions, and build an even stronger NWLSO community. If you're interested in joining either of these listservs, you can click here for New York and here for the Bay Area.

Additionally, we are always happy to make connections between chapters and affiliates and local law firms and lawyers, either informally or to plan an event or panel. Ms. JD believes in the importance of getting outside of your law school bubble, both to expand your network and to put your law school experience in perspective with regard to professional and personal development.

NWLSO affiliation provides access to Ms. JD’s wide range of social media platforms (including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and our blog, which is widely circulated and receives over 50,000 page views per month. Chapters and affiliates have used our blogging platform and social media platforms to promote events (for example, the Harvard Women’s Law Association used our blog to promote their annual conference), provide a platform for their members to develop a personal brand, and start important discussions.

More broadly, by affiliating with Ms. JD you will get first access to Ms. JD's scholarships, fellowships, conferences, and more. Ms. JD has recently introduced advice columns from Ms. JD board members, has started utilizing Google Hangouts to provide information on a broad range of topics. Upcoming discussions will include: the clerkship process and public interest law.  You will also get access to our resources.  For example, our Ms. JD Fellows have created a handbook on succeeding in law school. As affiliates, you’ll have access to all these resources.

In sum: NWLSO membership or affiliation is what you make of it. Ms. JD is here to support women law students, which means that our support is tailored to you and your community’s needs, but we believe that our broad network and experience working with affiliates and chapters will help your organization succeed at connecting and supporting women law students on your campus, and that affiliation with Ms. JD is beneficial to every student body.

What sort of work do NWLSO chapters and affiliates do?

NWLSO chapters and affiliates exist to support the needs of their organization and student body. Below are some types of events NWLSO chapters and affiliates have organized, but keep in mind that we want our chapters to be responsive- You know your student body better than we do!

Organizing Programs & Events: This may include a speaker event, a professional event, a mentorship event, or an event that is designed to support women law students. One event which has been particularly successful with chapters is a screening of the documentary Miss Representation, a film about the portrayal of women in American media and public life, with a discussion or reception afterwards to unpack the contents of the film. We always encourage chapters and affiliates to take pictures and notes during events so that events can be blogged about afterwards to keep the momentum going.

Supporting Women Law Students: Some students may want academic resources, such as a panel on becoming comfortable with the Socratic Method or Exam Taking in Law School. Students may also want social activities because meeting new people and fostering friendships is an important aspect of getting through law school successfully. Some ideas to build these relationships include happy hours, or a service project that gives back to the community. For example, Ms. JD has a Global Education Fund (GEF) that provides financial support to women law students in developing countries who otherwise could not afford to pursue higher education. Hosting an event to support the GEF is a great way to unite your organization around a common goal and contribute to a worthwhile cause.

Mentorship: Some chapters have mentorship programs, where newer students (typically 1Ls) are matched with upper-level students with shared interests. Additionally, professional mentorship programs offer a resource for students to learn about navigating the legal field and the particular challenges that women may face in their legal careers.  Ms. JD helped the University of Texas’ Women’s Law Association create their mentorship program and would be happy to help you create yours.  

Below are some successful events from NWLSO chapters and affiliates, but keep in mind that there’s no need for your organization to be limited to the below:

- Interviewing skills workshops

- Sessions advising students on how to choose classes, prepare for exams, and apply for clerkships

- Mentoring programs for 1Ls

- Networking sessions with local attorneys

- “A Day in the Life” sessions to discuss their career paths and daily work with practitioners from varied practice areas

With all of the above, Ms. JD is here to support you in any and all aspects of planning and implementing, from brainstorming to determining event logistics to helping you publicize the event to providing you with a platform to blog about your reflections about your organization’s work.

What does NWLSO affiliation look like?

What does NWLSO affiliation mean in practice? Ms. JD's resources are designed to help you succeed in all aspects of your law school experience and professional development. As such, the structure is flexible to suit the specific needs of your school.

Some campuses have an official NWLSO chapter that’s connected to Ms. JD on a national level. At other campuses, women’s law school organizations affiliate with Ms. JD and NWLSO by creating a NWLSO liaison within their existing group or otherwise maintaining a relationship with Ms. JD or reaching out when they’d like support. 

Regardless of your organizational structure, we hope you'll take advantage of our blogging platform, our events calendar, and our social media platforms in order to connect with other law students, continue conversations, and promote your events. We also always welcome suggestions on how Ms. JD can best meet your particular needs.

In short, NWLSO chapters are what you make of them. There are no rules about how a NWLSO chapter should relate to an existing student group. We encourage you to form the organizational structure that best suits your school and student body's needs.

There is no membership fee or other cost associated with starting a Ms. JD presence on your campus.

What does joining as an individual member look like?

Last year, Ms. JD decided to open up NWLSO membership to individuals, in addition to maintaining and growing the NWLSO law school chapters that we already have. We decided to expand how women law students can be involved in Ms. JD and NWLSO because we want to make sure we're reaching and supporting all women in law school, and also want to make sure we’re getting a broader picture of the issues facing women law students and how best to address these issues through our programming.

Individual membership might be a good option for someone who wants to become involved with Ms. JD, but doesn’t have the time to create an NWLSO chapter on their campus. As an individual member, you’ll get access to all the materials listed above, have the opportunity to put on programs and events on your campus, and can reach out to Ms. JD for support and guidance as a chapter or affiliate would.

If you'd like to sign up as an individual member of NWLSO, you can register here.

Does NWLSO provide financial support?

Unfortunately, Ms. JD is not in a position to provide funding to chapters and affiliates. However, many schools offer financial support to student clubs and organizations, and we are always here as a resource to help you become officially recognized by your law school. Additionally, co-sponsoring events with other student organizations or partnering with a Ms. JD sponsor to put on an event are ways to potentially defray costs of events and programming. If you’d like to discuss this more, feel free to reach out to Liz Hague at nwlso@ms-jd.org. We have a lot of experience working through these issues, and we don’t want you to be deterred because of financial limitations!

How Do I Affiliate with NWLSO?

Note: Many law schools may have specific guidelines regarding how to start student organizations on campus (e.g., some schools require student organizations to have a faculty adviser or constitution). You should review the procedures and guidelines for your school prior to beginning the process of starting a Ms. JD chapter, but NWLSO is always here to help you work through this process or speak to administration about the benefits of having a NWLSO chapter on your campus.

After you’ve reviewed the above, to start the process of becoming a NWLSO chapter or affiliate, email Liz Hague, Ms. JD NWLSO liaison and member of the Ms. JD Board of Directors, at nwlso@ms-jd.org. Make sure to include a list of members and contact details, if you have them. (This doesn’t need to be extensive, but if you have other interested students it’d be great to have their contact details as well.) Individual members can sign up here. Additionally, if you’d like to see if there already is a NWLSO chapter or affiliation at your law school, you can reach out as well.

Once you’ve received a confirmation back from Ms. JD, you’re affiliated and part of the Ms. JD network. We encourage all chapters and affiliates to then follow our Facebook page, Twitter, blog, and LinkedIn.  You can use these various platforms to connect with other law students and practitioners in your geographic area and beyond, update the community on events you’ve had, and invite nearby schools to attend your fundraisers, panels, and conferences.

There is no membership fee or other cost associated with forming an official Ms. JD presence on your campus. 

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