2020 2020: UMass Law is one of few U.S. law schools where majority of tenured faculty are women
UMass Law is one of few U.S. law schools where majority of tenured faculty are women

Among nearly 200 U.S. law schools, UMass Law ranks 15th for the percentage of women among its tenured faculty

Margaret Drew, Associate Professor, UMass Law
Associate Professor of Law Margaret Drew practiced law for 25 years before entering academia. She is past chair of the American Bar Association's Commission of Domestic and Sexual Violence. Drew received the commission's 20/20 Vision Award for her work in implementing the Violence Against Women Act and mobilizing attorneys to represent survivors of domestic violence.

With the most recent grant of tenure, women now make up 54% of the tenured faculty at UMass Law. Overall, 55% of UMass Law students are female, including 59% in this year’s entering class. Nationally, UMass Law is one of only 22 ABA-accredited law schools with a majority female tenured faculty.  

Associate Professor Margaret Drew was pleased to learn of UMass Law's ranking. “My hope is that more schools follow our lead,” Drew said. “With more awareness of the importance of students having faculty who look like them, a school with a majority female student body can only benefit from having a majority number of female faculty teaching and advising them.” 

“I think it is great that we have a solid female presence among our law faculty,” said Professor Hillary Farber. “It is not something we should take for granted.”

Farber added that having a majority female faculty can be a deciding factor for some students, noting that one student mentioned that her section is comprised of all women faculty.

Professor Hillary Farber teaching a law class
A national expert on the domestic use of unmanned aircraft systems in the U.S. and around the world, Professor Hillary Farber has appeared on national radio and television programs and publishes and speaks regularly on this topic. She was recently named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by the Florence Project for her work with detained immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census, 38% (about 1 in 3) of American lawyers are women. Those numbers will rise rapidly as 2019 ABA data states that females comprise 52.39% of all students in ABA-approved law schools.

Drew added that female faculty can serve as strong role models for their students relating to work-life balance. “Importantly, women on the faculty have dealt with many of the same concerns expressed by female faculty elsewhere, primarily that several women had primary, if not sole, child raising responsibilities at the same time they were teaching and meeting other tenure track requirements,” Drew said.

“I am pleased that UMass Law has a majority of tenured women faculty,” added Professor Justine Dunlap. “Last year, three women colleagues received tenure.”

Dunlap recalled that when she attended law school, about 30% of the faculty were women. “It’s important for all students to have women faculty at the front of the classroom or on the other end of the Zoom screen,” she said.

Professor Justine Dunlap with a student
Professor Justine Dunlap has worked in Washington, DC at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, as a staff attorney at the D.C. Superior Court, and Director of the Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect. She is a member of the Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Arkansas bars. She also serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Legal Association for Women at UMass Law.

Faculty say that the best part of teaching at UMass Law is working with their students. “Our students bring an incredible range of experiences that enrich both learning and teaching,” said Drew.  “I look forward to seeing the students in person again. In the meantime, Zoom helps us to create and preserve these relationships.”

Added Dunlap, “There are many things I like about teaching at UMass Law. We have fabulous staff and faculty. We have a motto and focus that is inspiring: pursue justice. But the single best thing is our wonderful students. I love teaching our law students. It is a pleasure every day to walk into the classroom to engage with them and help them learn the law and understand the professional joys and challenges of being a lawyer.”