Women Run the Law Review World This Year

Supermajority Education Fund

February 14, 2020

For the first time in history, law reviews at all 16 top law schools in the country are led by women. These editors in chief decided to celebrate by creating a special joint edition of the Women & Law journal with a series of 14 essays from powerhouse women lawyers on a variety of topics, including gender, motherhood, Indian Country, misogynoir in the legal field, and the courts at Guantanamo Bay.

This edition was the brainchild of Duke Law Journal editor in chief and third-year law student Farrah Bara. “After I was elected, I was watching the election results of the other law schools, and at some point, we realized all the editors-in-chief were all women. To our knowledge that has never happened in history,” Bara told Supermajority News.

Not only was every editor elected in 2019 a woman, but they were elected for a term that would mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. “I thought it would be a shame to not do something about it, but the question became what to do about it?” Bara told Supermajority News. “I figured we should do what we do best, and what we do is publish.”

Contributing to the law reviews of top law schools is prestigious, and being chosen to lead them is even more so. But despite women entering law school at numbers higher than men, they haven’t been elected to these prestigious posts. A study in 2012 found that women were only 29 percent of top law review editors, 43 percent of all editors, and only 45 percent of law review members. 

The essays featured in the special issue of Women & Law include an entry by Lisa Blatt, who has the distinction of being the woman to argue the most cases before the Supreme Court. In “Reflections of a Lady Lawyer,” initially edited by the Texas Law Review, Blatt focuses on her failures and thoughts about success. In an essay edited by the Stanford Law Review, Maggie Blackhawk (now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School) discusses power and sovereignty in Indian Country and how it drove her to the legal profession.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an icon for her work in gender discrimination, spoke at an event on Feb. 3 called, “Honoring Women’s Advancement in Law” in Washington, D.C. “It’s such a contrast to the ancient days when I was in law school,” Ginsburg said at the event which celebrated the 19th Amendment’s 100th anniversary and the journal’s publication. “There really is no better time for women to enter the legal profession.”

For Bara, celebrating the journal was incredible. “I don’t think I could have ever predicted that this could happen. We keep thinking about when we were 1Ls. You’re sitting around thinking, ‘What does a law review do? Am I even going to be good enough to get on it?’ You’re not thinking ‘Is Justice Ginsburg going to come to an event I host?'” Bara told Supermajority News.