Ms.JD-NYLS Report Shows Improvement In Women and Minority Representation on Law Reviews

A new report out from Ms.JD and the New York Law School Law Review (NYLS) offers some positive news about women in the legal profession.  The 2012-2013 Ms. JD and NYLS Law Review Diversity Report shows that women and minorities are gaining ground in both participation and leadership on law reviews at the nation’s ABA-accredited law schools. 

To measure diversity on law reviews for the 2012-13 academic year, Ms. JD and NYLS surveyed the flagship law review or law journal at each American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school, asking each law review or journal to self-report data about its female and minority student membership and leadership.

The survey showed that the gap is beginning to close between male and female law students in achieving top law review leadership positions, including the position of Editor-in-Chief. In 2011-12, for example, women held 43% of law review leadership positions and 31% of Editor-in-Chief positions. By comparison, in 2012-13, women held 54% of leadership position and 49% of the Editor-in-Chief positions. On average, law reviews outside of the top 50 ABA accredited law schools had a higher percentage of women in leadership and Editor-in-Chief positions.

The Law Review Diversity Report also showed that a higher percentage of full-time female faculty at a law school had a positive correlation to a higher percentage of female membership on that school’s flagship law review or law journal.

With respect to minority students, the survey found that they only hold 12% of all Editor-in-Chief positions at ABA-accredited law schools. On average, minorities hold 19% of full-time faculty positions at ABA-accredited law schools.

When viewed in the context of female and minority achievement in the legal profession, the results of the 2012-13 law review diversity report still raise serious questions about whether the lower percentage of female and minority representation in law review membership and leadership is a precursor to lower percentages of women and minorities on state and federal benches, in law firm partnerships, and as general counsel to Fortune 500 companies.

Paula Edgar, Chief Diversity Officer at New York Law School notes that “The Ms. JD and NYLS Law Review Diversity Survey is an important collaboration, designed to illuminate the participation of women and minorities on Law Reviews, an area in which they have traditionally been underrepresented.  Participation on Law Review in law school has been shown to have a direct correlation to future leadership and professional opportunities, therefore it is imperative that that we continue to track law review diversity and encourage engagement to foster a more inclusive legal profession.”

To this end, on Thursday, April 3, 2014, Ms.JD and New York Law School will host a special program at Fish & Richardson, P.C., in New York, to discuss the survey results, as well as the significance of law review membership and leadership and suggestions for  increasing the number of female and minority students in these positions.

Panelists for that program include:

Irene Hudson, Principal, Fish & Richardson, P.C.

Hon. Bernice D. Siegal,  Supreme Court 11th Judicial District, Civil Term, Queens County, New York

Nancy Leong, Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Mikayla Consalvo, Editor-in-Chief, NYU Law Review

The program will be moderated by Ms. JD Board Member, Julie Silverbrook, who currently serves as Executive Director of The Constitutional Sources Project (www.ConSource.org). Paula Edgar, New York Law School’s Chief Diversity Officer will also give remarks.

Of the event, Ms. JD President and Chair of the Board of Directors, Katherine Larkin-Wong, said: “This year's event goes beyond the research to consider what effects the lack of participation may be having on women's legal careers over the long term. We will also examine  practical steps we can take to encourage more women to participate in law review and run for editorial board positions.  In short, the event will consider why the data in the survey matters and what we can do to change it.”  

The full Ms. JD Women on Law Review report can be found here.

Members of the press are invited to join Ms.JD and New York Law School at Fish & Richardson, P.C. – 601 Lexington Avenue | 52nd Floor | New York, NY 10022, on April 3 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. for a special program on Improving Diversity on Law Reviews. You can register for the event here.


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