Both the percentage and actual number of enrolled women students has been dropping at the University of South Carolina School of Law, and at a number of other law schools I am aware of. Part of the explanation is that due to the US News rankings criteria, many admissions committees are increasingly emphasizing the LSAT scores over undergraduate grades and life accomplishments as admissions criteria. On average men in many applicant pools outperform women on the LSAT, while women (much more dramatically) outperform men on G.P.A.s and other achievement measures. So the declining importance of grades hurts women. And though there is a widespread belief that efforts by the University of Michigan and Georgetown to discourage high G.P.A. students from taking the LSAT at all is aimed at nefariously gaming the rankings (see also), there may be a real benefit to high achieving women with this approach.
One way to fight over reliance on the LSAT would be to gather data that demonstrates that grades, if weighted by the competitiveness of the undergraduate institutions where they are earned, are a better predictor of law school success in a particular law school than the LSAT. If that is demonstrably the case, law schools that use the less valid predictor to disproportionately admit men would be vulnerable to gender discrimination allegations.
But to make that claim, one needs to be able to compare undergraduate grades to law school grades, and if other law schools follow the examples of Yale, Stanford and Harvard, there won’t be as much information to work with there. In fact, if professors are able to give as many “high passes” as they want, grades at those law schools won’t mean anything at all.
It’s fairly well know throughout legal education that (unlike at most law schools) any YLS student who wants to be “on” the Yale Law Journal can do so. INCORRECT FOR CURRENT YLJ BOARD, SEE COMMENTS FOR CORRECT INFORMATION.
High grades are not required to join the Yale Law Journal. I assume this is or soon will be true for the Stanford and Harvard law reviews as well. Will this mean that more, or fewer, women will participate on these journals? Will anyone even bother to keep track? And I wonder what the effect will be on women law students ability to secure jobs and clerkships. I hope these law schools keep track of such things, and disclose the data. That would be a welcome change for sure.