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For the first time ever, women outnumber men entering law school in the majority of New York State’s institutions. Eight out of 15 law schools in the state have admitted a female majority for the class of 2003. Although some of the schools have had more women than men before, this is a first for Columbia Law School, Fordham University School of Law and New York Law School. Also admitting more women than men this year are Albany Law School, Brooklyn Law School, Cardozo Law School Yeshiva University, City University of New York School of Law, and Pace University School of Law. For many, women becoming the majority at law schools did not come as a surprise. The high enrollment of women is partially a result of another first: After a steady rise over the last two decades, women applicants seeking entrance to law schools this year outnumbered male applicants nationwide, according to Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Currently there are 34,891 female applicants, or 50.2 percent, while male applicants number 34,463, or 49.6 percent. And although LSAC saw growth for both female and male applicants this year, the increase of women was more significant. Male applicants increased 2.5 percent, while female applicants jumped 5.6 percent. Nationwide, there were 3.4 percent more applicants overall than in 1999, with 2.4 percent more applicants in the Northeast. According to LSAC, this was a long time coming. Women have applied to law schools in increasing numbers since the early 1970s, when only 10 percent of applicants were women. Each year since then, law schools have seen gradual increases. In 1981, women constituted approximately 37 percent of the applicant pool. By 1991, this figure had climbed to 40 percent, and in 1995, to 45 percent. According to Janice L. Austin, an LSAC Trustee and assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the majority of female applicants in 2000 did not come as a shock to anyone in the legal community. “We’ve anticipated this day for a long time,” she said in a press release. NO ACCIDENT For some New York law schools that have had a majority of female students in past years, such as CUNY and Pace, this is just a continuation of a trend. At other law schools, such as Brooklyn and Albany, deans said that women have hovered around 50 percent of enrollees in the last couple of years, once or twice popping above that figure. POLICY SHIFT PAYS OFF For other schools it was just a matter of time. “We have had more women than men in the applicant pool for a couple of years now,” said Kevin Downey, assistant dean for admissions at Fordham. And although some deans said they did nothing differently that could have caused the change this year, at other schools the increase was calculated. For example, Thomas Matos, director of admissions at New York Law School, said that the school, in the interest of gender fairness, reevaluated its definition of merit and reassigned the dollars available for financial aid accordingly. Matos said that the law school had relied heavily on the LSAT exam, on which males tend to fare better. So this year, the school changed the criteria for awarding merit scholarships to recognize undergraduate grade point averages, where women typically fare better than men, said Matos. And it paid off, he said. “Undergraduate grade point performance can be seen as a proxy for gender,” Matos said. “It wasn’t an accident or a by-product. WOMEN IN THE FIRST-YEAR CLASSES OF NEW YORK LAW SCHOOLS Law School — Percent of Women in First-Year Class Pace University Law School — 64 percent NY Law School — 62 percent City University of New York Law School — 61 percent Albany Law School of Union University — 52 percent Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva University — 52 percent Brooklyn Law School — 51 percent Columbia University Law School — 51 percent Fordham University Law School — 51 percent New York University Law School — 50 percent Touro College Law School — 50 percent Cornell University Law School — 49 percent Hofstra University Law School — 48 percent Syracuse University Law School — 47 percent State University of New York, Buffalo, Law School– 46 percent St. John’s University Law School — 45 percent Sources: The law schools. Numbers are for full-time day programs only. Schools are listed in order of the percent of women in their first-year classes. Schools that are tied are listed alphabetically.

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