Laurel Bellows

Equal Opportunity For Editors-In-Chief

Tag: You’re it! The line from the children’s game relates to being “tagged” by a corporation as an up-and-coming employee.  If you are “it,” you have caught the attention of upper management and will be given high-visibility assignments. You are the one to watch.

I thought about “tagging” when I read about the new report, prepared by Ms. JD in conjunction with New York Law School, showing that among ABA-approved law schools, women on average in 2011-12 held only 31 percent of editor-in-chief positions at law reviews.

An editor-in-chief position on a résumé opens doors to a high-profile law career. When there is a choice between two outstanding candidates, you can bet that the editor-in-chief will get the position. Editors-in-chief more easily obtain clerkships. At law firms, editors-in-chief frequently will be picked out of a crowd of their peers for special attention and significant assignments. Opportunities multiply.

The law review report results raise questions about whether the low percentage of female editors-in-chief foreshadows the low percentages of women on the bench, in law-firm partnerships and in the general counsel’s office of Fortune 500 companies, the researchers said in their report. 

With so many talented female students already making the law review, women should be confident that they have the right skills to be editor and must be willing to take the risk of stepping forward. Fellow law review members need to elect more women as editors-in-chief.  

Does implicit bias account for the dearth of women editors? Probably. But let’s offset subconscious mindsets by “tagging” yourself or your women friends to assure that those in a position to select the next editor-in-chief are aware of the importance of choosing a woman.

Laurel Bellows is a Principal in The Bellows Law Group, P.C. and president of the American Bar Association. Bellows will be posting regularly during her presidency to engage with young women lawyers and law students. 

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