Sexism in Law School

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Dear LSAT prep student, I’d like you to take a moment and imagine with me. Close your eyes, imagine A-list actress Blake Lively in a white button down shirt, top three buttons unbuttoned, school girl necktie loosely hanging around her neck, hair purposely messy, posing provocatively at the camera. Now, if I ask you what you’d think this was an ad for, how far down the list would a law school association show up? Now open your eyes. The ad’s tagline states: “She didn’t become a good lawyer by spending hours in the library…She networked her way to the top. Join the NZSLA Facebook page. NOW.”

A few months ago an ad featuring Hollywood star Blake Lively was published in the latest edition of New Zealand Law School’s student magazine, Lex (published by the New Zealand Law Students Association). This ad has been mustering up lots of complaints about the sexism that still lingers in law schools today. I, personally, was not aware that see through white shirts and sexy looks were a part of doing well in law school, sexual harassment suit waiting to happen, perhaps?

Waikato law school’s (located in Hamilton, New Zealand) Professor Margaret Wilson, a former attorney-general and current deputy dean of the school, commented that the ad was “disrespectful of women law students who in my experience work so hard to achieve their law degrees.” Things like this really get my goat. As someone who seriously considered getting her J.D. and someone who put in a lot of time and effort to get a good score on the LSAT to then be able to get into a top law school, I’m highly offended by the ad. I guarantee you a similar picture of a sexy schoolboy wouldn’t be used in the same way for law school networking. It’s exactly this outdated thinking that is detrimental to the way female law students and lawyers are looked at in the legal field.

It’s frustrating to me that this mindset still exists in this day and age. Female law students are speaking out against this ad, increasingly tired of being the “butt of these ‘old boy’ jokes.” Seventy-five percent of law students are women, and yet male attorneys are on average still getting paid higher than female attorneys. In the light of these figures, it’s very understandable that female law students and attorneys alike are irate at this ad.

The NZSLA claims that the ad is satirical, despite receiving international condemnation on various forms of social media. NZSLA president Seamus Woods claims that the ad “was not intended to be taken seriously, and had a target audience of students, which is perhaps a more robust audience than usual.” He continued on saying that the “NZSLA believes that it has a strong mandate to represent female law students and that it does so effectively and earnestly.”

Perhaps people are being a bit too inflammatory, but this isn’t a topic to be taken lightly. I wanted to share this with you, my fellow LSAT studiers, so that you may take this knowledge with you to law school, and make sure to watch out for prevailing sexism. Sorry for the public service rant. Hope you’re practice LSATs are going well!

Happy Studying!

Naz signature Updated on Aug 18, 2016