2010 Status Update – Women and Legal Education

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According to blogs in the legal academy, women did not fare well this year in the law school lateral hire market, with the majority of lateral moves being made by men.

Further, Supreme Court clerkships are weighty credentials among academics and aspiring academics, yet it appears that neither Justice Scalia nor Justice Kennedy hired a female law clerk this past hiring season.

Why is this?

The reality is that the people doing the hiring – the Supreme Court Justices and hiring committees at law schools – are people who are well-schooled in the value of diversity and are people who recognize that it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of gender, so I am at a loss to understand why hiring in the lateral market and hiring by Supreme Court justices does not work out well for women.  Maybe someday Larry Summers will opine on this issue.

(The argument that women are not willing to move to D.C. to clerk or for prestigious lateral moves does not hold weight.  As the former chair of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education, I personally know many women who would have moved if asked, and the reality is that women who make it through top law schools with top grades and honors such that they are credible candidates for S.Ct. clerkships or law school hiring tend to be women who are willing to sacrifice to some degree personally to bolster a career.)

-Elizabeth Nowicki

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