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Number of women lawyers growing in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ More than one-fourth of lawyers in Oklahoma are women, and the rate appears to be steadily increasing.

The Oklahoma Bar Association reports that 28.76% of attorneys in the state are women, up from 22% a decade ago.

For the first time, the University of Oklahoma has more women than men enrolled in its law school this year. Women make up 56% of those students, said Andy Coats, dean of the law school.

``It has been very competitive to get in down here,'' Coats said. ``We find that women are doing exceptionally well in terms of grades and law school aptitude.''

Harry Woods, bar association president-elect, said he is expecting rapid changes in the number of women in the profession.

``Law schools generally have their classes around 50% women,'' said Woods, an attorney for Crowe & Dunlevy in Oklahoma City. ``The trend is such that probably within the next 10 to 15 years, about half of the profession will be women lawyers.

``The pipeline really starts with the law schools.''

Woods said women are making more strides in the profession than minorities.

``There are still disproportionately too few of the minority students in law school,'' he said.

More than 90% of the bar association's members are white, compared with about 75% of Oklahoma's population being white, a new bar association survey says. Less than 1% of members are black, 5% are American Indian and one-half percent are Asian, the survey shows.

``The lawyers and the legal system should be a system where all parts of our society feel like ... the system is truly available to them in every respect,'' Woods said. ``In order to really make that ring totally true, it would certainly be better to have more lawyers from these groups be more directly involved in the system.''

The survey also showed Oklahoma attorneys earn a median salary from $50,000 to $75,000, a modest increase from 1992.
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