Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Law School Dean Demographics

Karen Sloan, Ahead of the Curve: Tracking Law Deans:

Jim Rosenblatt, himself a former law dean at Mississippi College School of Law, contacted me last week to let me know that he had expanded his always useful law deans database to add gender and ethnicity fields. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 38% of current deans are women—a figure that’s even higher than I realized. (I thought it was about a third.)
  • 26% are minorities. Among them: 15% are African American; 7% are Hispanic; 3% are Asian/Pacific Islander; and 1% are Native American. 
  • More than a quarter of the 200 or so law deans graduated from either Harvard Law School or Yale Law School, which is a figure unlikely to surprise anyone familiar with the legal academy and its obsession with pedigree.
  • The average tenure of current law deans is just over 3.5 years [the median is 3.2 years]. ...

I think it’s great to see more women and minorities ascending to lead law schools. It sends a strong message to students and faculty that times are changing and that structural barriers are beginning to fall. But that shouldn’t obscure the many challenges that remain in fostering truly diverse law campuses and a legal profession. Minorities remain underrepresented on law faculties—particularly among the tenured ranks. Women are still overrepresented among legal writing and clinical positions, which don’t generally provide the same security (and pay) that come with doctrinal faculty jobs. So while there is some movement at the top, much work remains to be done.

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Going to the Dean List and sort by law school attended it is apparent that ten law schools alone account for easily half of current law school deans. If the legal academy wants to even halfheartedly maintain the myth that all law degrees are equal, maybe expand the scope of your hiring beyond the top 5% of law schools.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 4, 2019 10:15:07 AM

#3 is the key. I went to one of those schools, and they hardly have a monopoly of wisdom. This should change.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Sep 4, 2019 4:16:19 AM