As 2016 draws to a close, The New York Times has mixed news for female attorneys and law school students.
On one hand, the newspaper reports, most of the students currently enrolled in American law school are women. Apparently this is the first time that’s happened.
Currently, 55,766 women nationwide are studying for a juris doctor degree, compared with 55,059 men, according to American Bar Association (ABA) data cited by the Times. First-year students are more than 51 percent women, or 19,032, and 48.6 percent men, or 18,058.
“There are more women than men based on data we have,” Barry Currier, managing director for accreditation and legal education at the A.B.A.’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar told the Times.
“It is a snapshot in time, and the numbers can be updated by the schools. But it is not likely to be large numbers.”
In the same article, a law professor warned against reading too much into the statistics. Specifically, Deborah J. Merritt said that additional information she compiled with a colleague shows that not all of the women that study law do so at the top-tier schools. The law school from which a student graduates had a direct impact on job placement and earnings, she added.
Additional ABA data seems to support that conclusion. As of this year, it shows, there were more than 1.3 million licensed attorneys in the United States. Of those, only 36 percent are women.
Clearly there’s still room for improvement. But at least we’re heading in the right direction.