A Web-Mistress of Laws
NYU student starts online forum for women in the legal world.Printer Friendly Version
Although Anna MacCormack ’08 calls herself “feminist-minded,” she says feminism wasn’t a big issue in how she thought about her life. “Then I went to law school,” she said.
Like many other female law students, MacCormack was troubled by the lack of gender equality that continues to pervade the legal profession. Women may account for more than half of all earned J.D.s, but they still only hold 17 percent of partnership positions at law firms, and a quarter of tenured law professorships. Conversations about “work-family balance” and questions about what to wear to interviews (Do I have to wear a skirt? Should I remove my wedding ring?) are common fodder on discussion forums catering to women in the law and in private conversations. Many women who had never before considered “women’s issues” find themselves wondering what impact their gender could have on their legal career.
Instead of grappling with these issues silently or settling for commiseration with friends, MacCormack took action. She joined Law Women, an NYU School of Law student organization, and in her first few months as a member of the group received a letter from a Stanford law student proposing the creation of an online community for women in the law. At a conference on Stanford’s campus in March of 2006, the Law Women members further crystalized the idea and worked out the details of a Web site intended to, as MacCormack put it, allow “women in the law to be able to have all the conversations we have amongst ourselves on a much bigger stage.”
A year later, MacCormack is editor-inchief of Ms. JD (www.ms-jd.org), an online forum for women in all areas of the law. The tagline of the Web site, which officially launched in March 2007 at Yale’s Legally Female conference, is “Changing the face of the legal profession.” Indeed, the women of Ms. JD are revolutionizing traditional ways of networking, sharing experiences and promoting issues that concern women. The site is mostly in blog format, with law students, professors and practitioners writing op-ed–style posts that are open for comment. There is also a forum where readers can have conversations, as well as a calendar of relevant legal events.
The topics on Ms. JD are as diverse as the women posting. They range from sexual harassment to balancing motherhood with fulltime enrollment in law school to options for part-time legal work to inspiring stories of women who have made breakthroughs in the legal world. Perhaps most important, Ms. JD connects women at all levels of the law and from all across the country, offering resources, communication and a sense of solidarity.
“It’s sort of like sharing notes,” said MacCormack, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Legislative and Public Policy. She could have added that based on the tenor of Ms. JD’s content, it’s clear that the legal establishment will be put to the test.