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Black Women at Top Law Schools Today B


lack women now have become domi- nant in African-American legal edu-


cation as they have in almost every area of higher education in the United States. A JBHE analysis finds that in the 2008-09 academic year black women made up 61.7 percent of the African-American enroll- ments at the nation’s 50 highest-ranked law schools. This is nearly 15 percentage points higher than for women enrollments in law schools as a whole. In the 2008-09 academic year there


were 1,747 black women enrolled at the 50 highest-rated law schools. At 43 of these 50 top-rated law schools, women made up a majority of the African-Ameri- can students. At 25 of the 50 top-rated schools, black women made up 60 percent or more of the African-American stu- dents.


At seven law schools with large num-


bers of black students — Emory, the Col- lege of William and Mary, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Georgia, American University, the Uni-


versity of California at San Francisco, and the University of Virginia — black wom- en made up more than 70 percent of Afri- can-American enrollments. Today black women make up less than 50 percent of the African-American en- rollments at only six of the nation’s 50 highest-ranked law schools: the Universi- ty of Arizona, the University of California at Davis, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, and Yeshiva University. The emerging dominance of black


women over black men in the legal profes- sion is also happening at the nation’s six historically black law schools. Black women make up a clear majority of the law students at each of these six schools. At all six of these schools combined, black women make up 63.2 percent of all Afri- can-American enrollments. This rate is very similar to the percentage of black women among African-American law school students at the nation’s top 50 law schools.


Why Do Black Women Excel in Legal Education?


W


hat is the reason black women have come to dominate African-


American legal education in this coun- try? Clearly, the fact that black women earn nearly two thirds of all black bach- elor’s degrees in the United States nec- essarily will result in a larger pool of black women, compared to black men, who have the option of entering law school. Furthermore, some surveys show that


upwards of 80 percent of all students on the honor rolls at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities are wom- en. Therefore, black women appear more likely than black men to be achiev- ing the high grade point averages in their undergraduate years that will enable them to qualify for admission to law school.


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