Top Law Schools

Membership in the set of top law schools varies among the writings of different analysts of judicial appointments.  Often the schools are not named, but when the list is specified it largely overlaps the baker's dozen that sat at the top of median LSAT scores for admitted students throughout the 1990s: Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Duke, Columbia, NYU, Stanford, Michigan, Georgetown, Berkeley, Penn, Cornell, and UCLA. All but Yale, Harvard, and Columbia designate the top tenth of their graduates by membership in the Order of the Coif. See: John A. Bauman, Director of the Order of the Coif, 1902-1991 ; John W. Strong, Directory Supplement, The Order of the Coif, 1992-1995. Absent that designation of their top tenth students, a rough comparison of gender proportions in high academic performance at Harvard and Columbia may be made instead by means of prizes and scholar awards. At Harvard the Sears Prizes for the top two students in the first year and second year classes during 1996 through 2001 were awarded to nine women and sixteen men. This yields a ratio of around one-third female during a period when the female proportion in the entering classes ran above two-fifths.

At Columbia those who perform exceptionally well in particular semesters are designated as Kent Scholars. For various years for which data are available from 1989 through 1998 fifty-four of the Kent Scholars were female (with ambiguous names counted as female) while one hundred and forty were male. Again, the proportion female among the top performers (betweeen one-quarter and one-third) falls below the representation of women in the law school student body (approaching one-half).

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