Women in law increasing

Published: October 23rd, 2000

Category: News

Nationally, the percentage of women entering the nation’s law schools has grown from 4.2 percent in 1963 to 48.7 percent in Fall 1999, according to the September edition of Student Lawyer Magazine, in an article titled “The New Majority” by Jane Easter Bahls. The UF law school’s percentage of female students parallels that, according to Admissions Office figures for Fall 2000. Of the 1,180 total law students, 574 – or 49 percent – are women (and 27 percent are minorities). Three UF law school representatives are quoted in the article: Associate Dean Gail Sasnett, Professor Betty Taylor, and student Jesse Howell, who has served as president of the Law Association for Women. Sasnett, president of the National Association for Women Lawyers, commented on changes in the practice environment being caused by women. “I see changes in the way the practice is approached,” Sasnett said. She expects law firms to focus more on allowing flexible hours and parttime work to count toward partnership. “We see women lawyers who want balance in their lives.” Howell said women are less interested in issues such as domestic violence and divorce. “We have a very hard time getting women involved in those issues,” she said. Taylor is quoted about changes for women in law school since the 50s. Even before her enrollment as a law student at UF, Taylor noticed hardships for women in the professional world. Taylor applied to Harvard Law School, and instead received an unsolicited letter describing an available position cataloguing in the library. She rejected the offer, and came to Florida to begin work as an assistant librarian. She was denied entry to many law schools. Most places, including Harvard, would not admit her because she was female. The article in Student Lawyer describes her isolation once she was accepted and began studies at UF. Although she wanted to be a librarian, and did not want to practice law, men were hostile and aggressive about having a female in the law school. “I was very conscious of the fact I was paving the way for women to follow. I tried to set an example of being a woman in a male world.”

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