Breaking the glass ceiling

Loyola University Chicago is working to make the legal profession a more welcoming place for women.

“We want women to reach the highest levels of the legal profession and to be leaders in their field,” says Kristin Finn (JD ’11), who created an innovative course at Loyola called Women and Leadership. “There are huge problems that no one has really been able to solve, and law schools have a responsibility to contribute to a more diverse and equitable profession.”

Statistics point to a troubling and persistent reality: female attorneys earn 22 percent less income than their male counterparts for the same work, according to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. Further, women hold just 20 percent of equity partnerships.

Turnover is another challenge. While females account for 51 percent of all law school students (women comprised more than half of this year’s Loyola’s first-year students), they account for just 30 percent of attorneys at the nation’s 200 largest firms by revenue. Many drop out, frustrated by their inability to advance their careers or take maternity leave without recriminations from managing partners.

The class, which is offered to 2Ls and 3Ls, provides a “safe and structured” environment for women to learn about “the internal and external obstacles preventing women from advancing within the profession,” Finn says. Limited to 10 students, the course is formatted as a round-table discussion in which students can consider the latest articles, TED talks, and podcasts on women and leadership topics, while also learning from practitioners who share their practical advice for countering gender and racial biases and reaching leadership positions.

“One guest speaker shared how on multiple occasions she has entered a room to take a deposition as an attorney, and was automatically assumed to be the court reporter,” says Finn, assistant director of Loyola’s nationally renowned Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy. “Women are also interrupted far more frequently in meetings and in court. This is something that our students need to be aware of, so that they can challenge it.”

Loyola is a leading the way in curricular offerings and programs that promote gender equality and advance women in the legal profession. Finn hopes that the seminar will provide support and serve to inspire students to seek out leadership opportunities following law school.


of Loyola's incoming 2019 class is female


women working in the legal profession


Globally, male partners are paid 27% more than female

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