Tracking the Progress of Women in Law School Graduations

In 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States, 230 women in the United States earned law degrees. That same year more than 9,000 men graduated from the 134 U.S. law schools that were in existence at that time. A decade later the number of women law school graduates had nearly quadrupled.

During the 1980s women flocked to law schools. In 1980, 10,026 women graduated from a U.S. law school. This was more than 12 times the number in 1970. By 1980, the number of accredited law schools had increased to 179. The number of men graduating from law school also skyrocketed during the decade, increasing from 14,115 to 24,893. Women were still only 30 percent of all law school graduates.

Over the next 25 years women closed the gender gap in law school graduations. By 2003 there were 19,981 men and 19,151 women who graduated from U.S. law school. In 2004, the gender gap was down to 455 degrees. Women made up 49.4 percent of all law school graduates in 2004.

Since that time the gap was reopened a bit. In 2009, 20,185 women and 23,860 men graduated from U.S. law schools. Thus, women made up 45.8 percent of law school graduates.

Filed Under: Degree AttainmentsGraduate SchoolsProfessional SchoolsResearch/Study


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  1. Marilyn Black Dussault says:

    I was one of the women who graduated from law school in 1980. And we were not welcomed with open arms.
    I was told by a LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR that I should be ashamed of myself for taking the seat of a young man who would some day have to support a family!!!!
    I joined a large Wall Street firm after graduation; left for a slightly smaller firm; and created my own firm in 1984 where I practiced law for more than 30 years before retiring.
    It is the best profession in the world and I thank God every day for the gift to be able to fulfill my goal!

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