For decades, the legal profession has long been a man’s game: Just over one-third of all lawyers are women, according to the most recent U.S. Census report.
In similar fashion, law reviews and legal scholarship have also been historically male-dominated. Today, only between 43 and 49 percent of J.D. candidates are women, according to a research paper published Lynne N. Kolodinsky J.D. ’14.
But on Saturday, the Cornell Law Review bucked that longtime trend in dramatic fashion, electing an all-female board — the first among any of the top 14 law schools in the country.
The Review typically receives over 100 submissions each week submitted by legal scholars, including professors, judges and other law students. Past issues have included articles penned by Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 and William Douglas.
The journal is completely student-run and elects third-year law students to its board every February. This year, the election resulted in a historic moment for collegiate law. One after another, a woman was voted into each subsequent position until the entire board was female.
“I think it didn’t quite hit me until the entire process was over,” said Beatriz Albornoz J.D. ’19, the Review’s outgoing editor-in-chief. “It was kind of a moving period for me.”
This academic year, the journal has placed a greater emphasis on promoting diverse voices. When selecting articles to publish, the journal also considers in scholars’ race, gender, and sexual orientation. In each issue, the Cornell Law Review aims to select an article by at least one female author.
Saturday’s elections weren’t the first time the law review broke gender barriers in the legal field. Mary Donlon Alger LL.B. ’20, the namesake of the North Campus freshman dormitory, became the first female editor-in-chief of any law review in the United States when she attended Cornell Law School.
This milestone in female representation in the legal field came alongside larger shifts in the national climate. 12 out of the top 15 law schools have elected female editors-in-chief for their law reviews, according to Albornoz. Columbia University, Georgetown University and the University of Chicago have yet to report their election results.
“Now in terms of leadership positions, especially now in terms of these topmost positions that carry a lot of responsibility and frankly prestige, it is really special,” Albornoz told The Sun. “This is a massive paradigm shift.”
Moving forward, the board hopes to continue encouraging diverse voices in the law review membership and scholarship.
“We’re proud to be part of this moment and look forward to using it as a catalyst to increase the accessibility of our journal, for people regardless of their identity or background,” said Julia Hollresier B.S. ’15 J.D. ’20, the incoming managing editor.