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An Uphill Climb for Women Supreme Court Advocates Gets Steeper

May 15, 2020, 8:54 AM

The jury is back on gender diversity among Supreme Court advocates for the 2019 term, and the verdict isn’t encouraging for women.

Of the 156 times that lawyers argued at the high court between the beginning of October and the just-concluded phone-in session, women were at the podium or on the other end of the line only 20 times, or 13%.

Despite greater attention than ever on boosting diversity in the legal profession, the percentage of female advocates this time around tests the lowest end of the spectrum. The number of female advocates in recent terms has ranged from 12% to 21%.

Moreover, the dearth of appearances by women from private practice—compared with government of academia—is acute. Of the 70 arguments done by lawyers from law firms, just eight were conducted by women.

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