The Experiences of Women of Color at Law Schools in the United States

A new study from the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas at Austin and the NALP Foundation in Concord, Massachusetts, finds that omen of color are significantly underrepresented in legal organizations and law-related positions and leave these legal roles — especially at law firms — in alarming numbers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that women of color face more substantial barriers to success in the legal profession than do their White colleagues. Recent research found that nearly one-half of law firm offices do not have a single partner who is a woman of color. The current study examines how the experiences of women of color at the nation’s law schools lead to their underrepresentation in the legal profession.

The report surveyed a large group of students at 46 law schools in the United States. Some of the important results from the study include:

* Fewer women of color report they are “extremely satisfied” with their law school experience (30%) than did White men (44%) and White women (39%).

* A higher percentage (31%) of women of color report they have seriously considered leaving law school than White women (24%) and White men (22%). Among the responding women of color, Black/African-American women report that they are the most likely to have seriously considered withdrawing from law school (38%).

* Only 40 percent of women of color at law schools rated race relations at their school positively, compared to 70 percent of White men and 58 percent of white women.

* Women of color report they “frequently” feel comfortable raising their hand to ask questions in class at a level 20 percentage points lower than White men.

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