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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapel Hill chapter.

To my great surprise, women don’t make up much of the legal workforce. I genuinely didn’t know this until a few days ago, and perhaps this is only news to me because I grew up watching feminine icons like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Here’s my question: why aren’t there more ladies like Elle Woods? And no, I don’t just mean sassy powerhouses with a flair for pink fashion. I mean lawyers. Women seem to dominate the humanities departments in American universities, and an undergraduate degree in the humanities is pretty standard for law school applicants. Is law just less appealing to women than it is to men? Are there some extra, invisible obstacles in the culture of legal workplaces that I’m not seeing? Am I just overthinking it all?

Probably. But I do think that there’s something to be said for the lack of girl power in law firms and courtrooms. As a full disclaimer, I have done no real research on this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if girls just aren’t directed toward those types of careers as much, or it may be as simple as girls not knowing what a career in law entails, the extent of the associated opportunities, the wide range of fields to choose from or the kinds of skills that are useful in law. There’s been a push to get girls into more male-dominated fields, like computer science and engineering, so why not law too?

In all honesty, I hadn’t started looking into a legal career until a few months ago, though my dad and brother had been mentioning it for quite some time. I’m sure this had something to do with me being an English major and their wanting to make sure I could afford food and rent once I graduated (something that I, too, am concerned about). And you know what? If you have even the remotest interest in a legal career, decent writing skills and a good work ethic, law seems like a great option!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a commitment to take seriously. It takes about 3 years to earn a JD (Juris Doctorate), and law school, like any institution of higher education, is quite the investment. But the potential earnings for a successful lawyer are desirable and there are so many types of law to study! Very few lawyers are actually arguing in courtrooms, and by no means do your options end at criminal law. Whether you want to work with family law, corporate law or just about anything else under the sun, law school seems like a wise choice for humanities undergrads with career paths that aren’t always the clearest.

This isn’t me trying to sell you on law school though. At the end of the day, we all have skills and interests that make us suited for different fields. I’d just like to make the point that you, too, are fully capable of becoming the next Elle Woods.

Emily Stellman

Chapel Hill '21

Emily is an aspiring author that studies English and Comparative Literature at UNC. She is also minoring in History and hopes to one day become a lawyer or work in a museum. Her interests include music, doting on her pets and all things Disney!