Over the years, substantial changes have occurred in the composition and characteristics of law students. Women have been dramatically underrepresented in the past both in law schools and in the legal profession. As late as 1970, women made up only 2.8% of the population of lawyers in the United States, and only 8.5% of law school students were women. By 2013, almost 49% of law school students were women.

Historically, people of color, like women, have been extremely underrepresented in the legal profession. In 1970, black lawyers made up slightly over 1% of all lawyers (Leonard, 1977). The various minority-recruitment programs instrumented by most law schools in the late 1960s have increased the enrollment of minority-group students substantially over earlier years. But these groups still do not have representations within the law school populations anywhere near the percentage of the total population. Today (2013 data) African Americans make up only about 7.5% of all law students, even though they comprise about 13% of the general U.S. population. Similarly, Latinos make up about 9.9% of all law students, even they comprise more than 15% of the U.S. population (American Bar Association, 2017).

Women and people of color are also underrepresented among law school faculty. In 1989, law school students around the country demonstrated and successfully exerted pressure on their institutions to hire more women and minority-group members as professors (Leatherman, 1989). These and similar efforts in subsequent years resulted in major changes in the composition of law school faculties, and now close to half of full-time law school faculty are women and minority-group members.

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