This week The Record is publishing data that has been gathered by the Law Review to study the twenty-year-old gender disparity problem. This is the information that the Law Review has maintained must be kept secret in order to preserve the integrity of its selection process. Because many people may think The Record has done a disservice to the Law Review and its editors by divulging this information, it is important to state why this action was taken.
Anyone familiar with law schools knows the law review is the most prestigious organization on any campus. At institutions like Harvard or Yale, law review is a central factor in Supreme Court and Court of Appeals clerkships, as well as faculty hiring. Law Review is more than a nice conversation starter during firm interviews; it is many times the deciding factor as to whether a student will be given a job offer. It is doubtful if most Law Review editors would be willing to give up so many hours of their lives if the benefits were not so nice, though this is not to take away from their work or their publication.
The perks that come from Gannett House are why it is so distressing that a gender disparity problem exists. While it is debatable how much weight should be given to the fact that a person was a Law Review member (especially when it seems likely that most if not all students at Harvard are capable of performing well at the Law Review) for the time being Law Review will remain the premiere organization on campus for furthering one’s career. Thus, it is extremely important that women are represented on the Law Review in proportion to their numbers at the Law School.
The question remains as to what are the best means for achieving the goal of equal participation, and that is why the data The Record received and is now publishing is so important. It informs the Law School community and provides them with the statistics the Law Review already has in determining whether to eliminate grade-ons, change the weight given to the writing competition or adopt an affirmative action policy. Law Review editors would only be asked to decide such important issues after understanding the tests that have been run and the conclusions drawn.
In the same way, members of the Harvard Law School community have a right to know how the most prestigious organization on campus is handling a problem as serious as gender disparity. They should know because the Law Review is not an outside organization that recruits on campus and then leaves; rather, it operates within the Law School community, using Law School facilities and continuously interacting with Law School students. It is part of the Law School, which makes it the business of everyone who lives and studies here.
What is important is that students use this data to think about this issue and to think about what course of action will do the most good in rectifying a two-decade-old problem.