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The Cost of Women's Success (2019)

Center for Postsecondary Research / November 2019


The past two decades have seen increasing numbers of women in law schools. After graduating from law school, women lawyers enjoy greater opportunities for financial independence, security of employment, and a potential for leadership facilitated by the J.D. degree. Yet, gender inequities in pay and position continue to plague the legal profession. In spite of this conundrum, there has been little scholarly attention given to the experience of women while in law school.

The 2019 LSSSE Annual Results celebrate women. This report investigates the successes of women law students—using objective and subjective measures to reveal various accomplishments. This report also interrogates their backgrounds and the context for their enrollment in law school, revealing challenges women overcome and the sacrifices they make to succeed. This report not only shares findings on women as a whole, but also features comparisons by gender and race/ethnicity, providing greater depth and context to the overall experience of women law students.

This report's findings make clear that women’s success comes at great personal and financial cost. Greater awareness of these challenges provides both an imperative and an opportunity for administrators, institutions, and leaders in legal education to invest more deeply in the success of women.

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