New CWIL-NALP Report on Disparities in Social and Educational Experiences of Women of Color in Law School

Written by National Association of Women Judges|June 29, 2020|News

Last month the Center for Women in Law and the National Association for Law Placement Foundation released findings from its first-of-its-kind research to identify and detail disparities between the educational and social experiences of women of color and their peers during law school. “Women of Color – A Study of Law School Experiences” explores a wide range of topics as well as their impact on these students’ career trajectories. The study represents responses from more than 4,000 students across 46 U.S. law schools. 

Highlights among the study’s findings:

  • Students were asked to assess race relations at their law school during the survey year (2017-2018); not surprisingly, opinions differ among student groups. While less than one-half (40%) of women of color provided a positive rating, 70% of white men did so, with 59% of men of color and 58% of white women rated race relations at their school positively.
  • Although levels of satisfaction with the law school experience are high among all genders and race/ethnicities, a significantly lower percentage of women of color report they are “satisfied” with their overall law school experience (82%) than white women (89%). Furthermore, women of color reported that they were “extremely satisfied” with their law school experience at a level 14% lower than their white male peers.
  • A higher percentage (31%) of women of color report they have seriously considered leaving law school than men of color (26%), white women (24%), or 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%), while Hispanic women/Latinas are the least likely (22%) to report this consideration.
  • The average expected educational debt is much higher for women of color than their majority peers. In general, the amount of total post-graduate educational debt students anticipate varies greatly by race/ethnicity. Both the average and median anticipated total educational debt women of color are comparable - $105,021, and $100,000, respectively, with their estimated total educational debt ranging between zero and $500,000.

Thank you, Judge Marilyn G. Paja, for alerting NAWJ to this report. Judge Paja is a former NAWJ District 13 Director and currently chairs NAWJ’s ADA Compliance Committee. She is also Co-Chair of the Washington State Gender & Justice Commission.

Connect With Us

Facebook Twitter