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Scope & Purpose

Today, although women represent one-third of the nation’s highest judicial body, equality has not been achieved. Women lawyers remain significantly underrepresented in major leadership roles, comprise only 6 percent of managing partners in law firms, and hold less than 15 percent of equity partnerships. Fewer than 20 percent of general counsels for Fortune 500 companies, barely 20 percent of law school deans, and only one-third of law review editors-in-chief are women.

The ceiling may be shattered, but the pipeline to power remains elusive for most women. This symposium serves as a catalyst to raise awareness about, discuss the dynamics of, and strategize solutions to the persistent gender disparity that exists in positions of power within the legal profession. Scholars and experts from the fields of law, gender studies, political science, journalism, and beyond will reframe and advance the course of existing dialogue on gender equality.

The event will feature keynote speaker Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, as well as plenary addresses from Deborah Rhode, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Judge Nancy Gertner, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School.

For those unable to attend the symposium, Bridget Crawford, Professor of Law at Pace School of Law will live-blog with posts appearing at the Faculty LoungeFeminist Law Professors, and the Legal Ethics Forum. Participants’ remarks and articles will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Michigan State Law Review.

The symposium will take place in Detroit, Michigan, at the historic Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. MSU College of Law has its roots in Detroit. As Detroit College of Law, it was one of the first institutions of higher education to open its doors to women and minorities, admitting Lizzie McSweeney into the first class of students in 1891. Thus it is incredibly fitting that we hold this symposium in the location where our school was founded, remembering our legacy while also looking to the future. Just as the Law College was among the first to offer women equal access to a legal education over 50 years before many other institutions began to do so, we now seek to continue this tradition by advancing the conversation on how to resolve remaining gender disparity in the profession.

We will update this website as details unfold. Please check back regularly.

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