Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

For First Time Women Compose Majority of MDL Committee

NLJ, In a First, Women Compose Majority of MDL Committee

A federal judge has appointed the first plaintiffs steering committee in multidistrict litigation made up of a majority of women members, according to the lawyers in the case.


The appointments, which U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil of Kansas approved on Wednesday, come in lawsuits alleging that Ethicon Inc.’s power morcellators—medical devices used in laparoscopic uterine surgeries—have caused women to develop an aggressive form of cancer.


Vratil approved a proposed committee recommended by Paul Pennock, managing attorney at New York’s Weitz & Luxenberg and Aimee Wagstaff, founding partner of Andrus Wagstaff in Lakewood, Colorado. Pennock, now co-lead counsel with Wagstaff on the official committee, said he was inspired to create a leadership team of mostly women after hearing Vratil, a former member of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, talk at a conference on “best practices” in MDLs held by Duke Law School’s Center for Judicial Studies in September 2014.



November 25, 2015 in Courts, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

No ‘Appreciable Progress’ for Women in Partnership Ranks

From Bloomberg News: 

It's back to the future — and not in a good way for women seeking equity partnership in the nation’s 200 largest law firms.

Women have not made “appreciable progress” since 2006 in either attaining equity partnership or increasing their pay to be on par with their male colleagues once they grasp the brass ring, according to a study by the National Association of Women Lawyers released on Tuesday.

The results: Women represent 18 percent of equity partners, an increase of two percent since 2006, according to NAWL’s findings. Even after they’ve made it into the equity ranks, they make about 80 percent of what their male colleagues bring home. In 2006, women had made 84 percent.

October 28, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Temple Law Prof Marina Angel Awarded AALS Lifetime Achievement Award

The AALS Women in Legal Education Section announced that Professor Marina Angel (Temple University Beasley School of Law) will be awarded the 2016 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her bio details her extensive accomplishments and leadership of women in the profession. "A Temple law professor for nearly 40 years, Professor Angel’s scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and service truly embody the spirit and purpose of this distinction."  

My favorites of her work are:

 Susan Glaspell's Trifles and A Jury of Her Peers: Woman Abuse in a Literary and Legal Context, 45 Buffalo L. Rev. 779 (1997) 

Criminal Law and Women: Giving the Abused Woman Who Kills A Jury of Her Peers Who Appreciate Trifles, 33 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 229 (1996).  


Teaching Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers and Trifles, 53 J. of Legal Education 548 (2003)


Prof. Angel will be honored at the AALS meeting Saturday, January 9th, 2016, 12:15-1:30 p.m. in New York City. 

October 27, 2015 in Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

6 Reasons for Gender Differences at the Top of the Legal Profession

ATL, 6 Reasons for Gender Differences at the Top of the Legal Profession


  1. Research has found that people view women as less competent than men and lacking in leadership potential, and partly because of these perceptions, women encounter greater challenges to or skepticism of their ideas and abilities at work.
  2. Research has found that men are more likely than women to engage in dominant or aggressive behaviors, to initiate negotiations, and to self-select into competitive environments— behaviors likely to facilitate professional advancement.
  3. Women tend to believe they have less time in which to attain a greater number of goals, and they are likely to experience more conflict in deciding which goals to pursue and which to sacrifice or compromise.
  4. Compared to male participants, female participants expected the promotion to bring more negative outcomes, which led them to view the potential promotion as less desirable than men did and to be less likely than men to pursue it. However, men and women expected the same level of positive outcomes from the promotion.
  5. It is also possible that women are overestimating the negative consequences associated with power, that men are underestimating them, or both.
  6. Women believe, unlike men, that assuming high-level positions would require them to compromise other important life goals. This is an assumption that is worth studying further.


September 26, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Re-entry Program for Women Lawyers Expands

Re-Entry Program for Women Lawyers Expands

The OnRamp Fellowship, which connects women lawyers who have taken a hiatus for at least two years with jobs at law firms and companies, is expanding.


The network of law firms that participate in its fellowship program expanded by six to include Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Morrison & Foerster, Loeb & Loeb, Stoel Rives, Wiley Rein and Wilson Elser, OnRamp announced on Thursday.


Both Amazon’s legal department and the compliance division at financial services firm Barclays also joined.


“Everyone realizes we are in a war for talent, and we are fighting for the same talent,” said Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder and CEO of the Onramp Fellowship & Diversity Lab. “Some are looking for new and inventive ways to find people.”


OnRamp launched in January 2014 to provide women lawyers re-entering the profession with an opportunity to update their skills and contacts through a paid-for, one-year fellowship with a major law firm.

September 26, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Rush for gender equality with top judges 'could have appalling consequences for justice'"

A view from Britain from the Evening Standard (UK): 

One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice.   

Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court judge, said he believed that the judiciary was a “terrific public asset” which could be “destroyed very easily” if the selection of candidates was skewed in favour of women.

He added that to avoid inflicting damage, campaigners for equality would have to be “patient” and suggested that it would need up to 50 years before the number of women on the Bench matched the total of men.

September 23, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Legal Profession’s Gender Imbalance in a Chart"

From Bloomberg Law Business: 

The American Bar Foundation has released new data about gender balance in the profession, or more accurately, the lack thereof.

Clearly, more women are entering the law as shown in the chart below.

Gabe Friedman

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Lawyer Population Survey, American Bar Association.

But even though the number of women entering the law has been steadily increasing in recent years, the percentage of women equity partners at the top 200 law firms has been flat for close to a decade, as the chart below shows:

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Association of Women Lawyers, ABA's National Lawyer Population Survey

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Association of Women Lawyers, ABA’s National Lawyer Population Survey

September 23, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Embedded image permalink

From the Guardian UK: 

The barrister at the centre of a sexism furore over a complimentary LinkedIn message from a solicitor 30 years her senior has said she is facing a professional backlash over her decision to speak out.

Writing for the Independent, the human rights lawyer Charlotte Proudman said she did not regret her decision to make public a message from Alexander Carter-Silk that commented on her “stunning” photograph, because it had led to an outpouring of similar experiences from other women.

Proudman said she had named Carter-Silk because she believed the public interest in exposing the “eroticisation of women’s physical appearance” by an influential and senior lawyer was greater than his right to privacy.

September 15, 2015 in Technology, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mad Men Flashback

You Won't Believe This Law Firm Memo from the 1950s

We got our hands on a few pages of a Biglaw memo meant to answer internal questions about interviewing prospective lawyers for a position at the firm. The section details how to deal with “Lady Lawyers” and, oh boy, is it a doozy. The memo is from 1956, and... it was a very different time. Ike was president, Elvis Presley made his debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, a gallon of gas cost 22 cents, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banning discrimination in the workplace was still 8 years away.


As damning (and, wow, is it damning) as this carefully worded memo is, remember, the firm was, at the time, far from alone in its practices or opinions.

September 15, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Nominations Sought for AALS Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award

From the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education:

The AALS Section on Women in Legal Education is pleased to open nominations for its 2016 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013, the inaugural award honored Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in 2014 the award honored Catharine A. MacKinnon, and the 2015 award honored Herma Hill Kay.  All of these remarkable women were recognized for their outstanding impact and contributions to the Section on Women in Legal Education, the legal academy, and the legal profession.

 The purpose of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award is to honor an individual who has had a distinguished career of teaching, service, and scholarship for at least 20 years.  The recipient should be someone who has impacted women, the legal community, the academy, and the issues that affect women through mentoring, writing, speaking, activism, and by providing opportunities to others.

 The Section is now seeking nominations for this most prestigious award. Only individuals who are eligible for Section membership may make a nomination, and only individuals—not institutions, organizations, or law schools—are eligible for the award.  As established by the Section’s Bylaws, the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Executive Committee will select the award recipient, and the award will be presented at the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting. 

 Please submit your nomination by filling out this electronic form​ by August 31, 2015Please note that only nominations submitted via the electronic form by the deadline will be accepted.

 Please email Dean Cynthia Fountaine if you have any questions or difficulty with your online submission. 

August 6, 2015 in Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 31, 2015

"Law Society reveals 42 per cent gender pay gap among members"

From Scotland:  

New research by the Law Society of Scotland shows a 42 per cent gender pay gap among its members, the lawyers’ body has revealed.

The figure was reached by comparing average full-time and full-time equivalent (for part time/flexible hours employees) salaries for women and men at all career stages.


Janet Hood, convenor of the Law Society’s equality and diversity committee said the gap “reflects very badly on what is otherwise a modern and forward-thinking profession”.

She added: “There are many and nuanced reasons why the gender pay gap exists, and the legal profession is certainly not alone – figures from November 2014 show that the overall UK gap was 9.4 percent.

“However we have seen little change in the past decade compared to other professions such as accountancy or dentistry and it is a major concern that such a substantial gap persists 45 years after the UK Equal Pay Act and 10 years of Law Society equality research and promoting good practice within the legal profession.”

Ms Hood said the issue could not be ignored “for either ethical or business reasons” and there should be “no limit” set on the talent and ambition of women in the sector.

The referenced report by the Law Society of Scotland is available here.  

July 31, 2015 in International, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Year of the Female Law Dean

National Jurist, Year of the Female Dean

Call it the year of the women dean. Eleven of the nation’s 28 new deans this summer are female, an unprecedented number. It brings the total number of female deans at the nation’s ABA-accredited law schools to 59, or about 30 percent, which is an increase of 21 percent from 2008.


While the number still pales in comparison to the number of female J.D. students, which is 47 percent, the dean numbers are inching closer to the percent of female full-time law faculty, which is 34 percent.

July 28, 2015 in Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Women Underrepresented as Lead Trial Lawyers

ABA, Women Underrepresented in Lead Trial Lawyer Positions, ABA Study Reports

Female federal litigators serve as first chair far less frequently than men, and implicit bias is likely a cause, according to a study recently released by the American Bar Association.


The study, First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table (PDF), pulled data from 2013 cases filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Illinois. 558 civil cases, and 50 criminal cases, were randomly selected.


Out of the civil cases, 68 percent of all lawyers who made appearances were men, and 76 percent of the lead counsel were men. For the criminal cases, 67 percent of the lead counsel were men. Out of the criminal cases that went to trial, 79 percent of the lawyers serving as lead counsel were men.


Women lawyers comprise 36 percent of the legal profession, according to the study. it also notes that 17 percent of large law firm equity partners are women, and women comprise 22 percent of Fortune 500 general counsel.


Sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and the Commission on Women in the Profession, the study also examined case types. It found that women appeared as lead counsel in 41 percent of real property cases, but only in 15 percent of the contract cases.


Also, the study found that in civil cases involving the U.S. government, 31 percent of the lead counsel for the government were female.


In criminal cases, 69 percent of the women who appeared as lead counsel represented the government, and 31 percent represented defendants.


Family responsibilities may play a role in opportunities for women lawyers, the study notes, but it also notes potential bias from senior partners and clients, as well as inappropriate comments and treatment from judges and opposing counsel. It mentions a notion that women litigators show too much emotion, but male litigators who show the same level of emotion are often seen as zealous advocates who are passionate about their cases.


“All of these issues apply with even greater force” for women litigators of color, according to the study.


The ABA’s Commission on Women the Profession plans to work with the profession and identify how women can better get litigation training and courtroom experience.


Law schools, the study notes, should specifically teach how women can navigate implicit bias in the courtroom, and let women who want to be litigators know that government jobs probably offer them the most first-chair opportunities.

July 21, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Rise of Women Law Deans

We have been tracking the number of new women law deans.  Our current count is  11 of 25 new appointments (44%).

The National Law Journal provides more analysis in Female Deans Taking Charge

Since 1989, women who run law schools have dined together during an annual American Bar Association workshop for leaders in legal education. Tradition dictates that each attendee talk about her greatest success and failure during the year. They share support and ideas.


When Katherine Broderick assumed the deanship of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 1998, the 14 female law deans could fit at a relatively small table. Today, 59 women run American Bar Association-accredited law schools, comprising 30 percent of all law deans. That's up from under 21 percent in 2008, according to a survey of law faculty by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).


Clearly, they need a bigger table.


"Because we are so many, the stories of triumph and disaster are much shorter," said Broderick, now the longest-serving woman dean.


The numbers are set to rise even higher. Eleven — fully 40 percent — of the 28 deans slated to take over this summer are women — a spike that has not gone unnoticed. Incoming deans who attended a two-day ABA conference in Chicago this month buzzed about the number of women in the room.


"It felt to me like there were a striking number of new female deans," said Jennifer Mnookin, who will take the top spot at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law on July 1. "At one point, I was talking with a group of six soon-to-be deans, and five of them were women. I don't think that would have been possible a decade ago."

June 23, 2015 in Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

46% of New Law Deans are Women

Update: 6-8-15

Before this year's new hires, women constituted 20.6% of Law Deans. See ABA Commission on Women, A Current Glance at Women in the Law

By my count, women constitute 11 of 24 (46%) of new deans this year. 

Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech),  Cincinnati

Kathleen Boozang (Seton Hall), Seton Hall

Danielle Conway (Hawaii), Maine

Lyn Entzeroth (Tulsa), Tulsa

Melanie Leslie (Cardozo), Cardozo

Jennifer Mnookin (UCLA), UCLA

Alicia Ouelette (Albany Acting Dean), Albany

Suzanne Reynolds (Wake Forest), Wake Forest

Jennifer Rosato (Dean, No Illinois), DePaul

Laura Rosenbury (Wash U), Florida

Melanie Wilson (Kansas), Tennessee

 Help keep the list current.  Add others to comments below.  

June 9, 2015 in Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Big Law is Failing Women"

The American Lawyer, Special Report: Big Law is Failing Women

Why aren't there more women at the top of the nation's biggest firms? Consider that at the current growth rate of women equity partners, gender parity will be reached in the year 2181. Our investigation includes firm-by-firm data plus a look at innovative firms that are addressing problems in novel ways.


June 2, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Least Diverse Branch

Deborah Rhode, Law is the Least Diverse Profession in Nation. And Lawyers Aren't Doing Enough to Change That, Wash. Post.

Women constitute more than a third of the profession, but only about a fifth of law firm partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations and law school deans. The situation is bleakest at the highest levels. Women account for only 17 percent of equity partners, and only seven of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a woman as chairman or managing partner. Women are less likely to make partner even controlling for other factors, including law school grades and time spent out of the workforce or on part-time schedules.Studies find that men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.***


The problem is not lack of concern. I recently surveyed managing partners of the 100 largest law firms and general counsel of Fortune 100 companies. Virtually all of the 53 participants in the study said diversity was a high priority. But they attributed the under-representation of minorities to the lack of candidates in the pool. And they explained the “woman problem” by citing women’s different choices and disproportionate family responsibilities in the context of a 24/7 workplace. As one managing partner put it, “You have to be realistic. It’s a demanding profession. . . . I don’t claim we’ve figure it out.”


Such explanations capture only a partial truth. Minorities’ under-representation in law school does not explain their disproportionate attrition in law firms. And even women who work long hours and never take time out of the labor force have a lower chance of partnership than similarly situated men. Moreover, although data on women’s desires for partnership is lacking, what the research on women’s leadership preferences generally does not show is substantial gender disparities. In law, women experience greater dissatisfaction than men with key dimensions of practice such as level of responsibility, recognition for work and chances for advancement.

May 28, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Elizabeth Wurtzel on Big Law's Gender Problem

The controversial writer offers video observations here.  

May 22, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Batlan on the Gendered History of Legal Aid

Excited - my friend Felice Batlan's book is out!  Here's the review from the Legal History Blog.


Karen Tani, New Release: Batlan's History of Legal Aid, 1863-1945

I've been really looking forward to this new release, from Cambridge University Press: Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945, by former guest blogger Felice Batlan (Illinois Institute of Technology/Chicago-Kent College of Law). Here's the abstract:
This book re-examines fundamental assumptions about the American legal profession and the boundaries between “professional” lawyers, “lay” lawyers, and social workers. Putting legal history and women's history in dialogue, it demonstrates that nineteenth-century women's organizations first offered legal aid to the poor and that middle-class women functioning as lay lawyers, provided such assistance. Felice Batlan illustrates that by the early twentieth century, male lawyers founded their own legal aid societies. These new legal aid lawyers created an imagined history of legal aid and a blueprint for its future in which women played no role and their accomplishments were intentionally omitted. In response, women social workers offered harsh criticisms of legal aid leaders and developed a more robust social work model of legal aid. These different models produced conflicting understandings of expertise, professionalism, the rule of law, and ultimately, the meaning of justice for the poor.
Reviewers say:
"Women and Justice for the Poor is an exciting and timely intervention into work on lawyering in the United States. Batlan establishes the deep relevance of ideas about gender and race to the history of law and legal practice through ambitious research, provocative analysis, and engaging narrative."  -- Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, University of Michigan
"By tracking legal aid through the winding corridors of urban social institutions, Batlan gives us evocative insights into gender, reform, capitalism, and lawyering in a cogent and fascinating historical account. Her erosion of lay and professional boundaries, demonstrated by women’s contribution to legal aid and the pragmatic relief they provided to underprivileged clients, illuminates the value of using gender to frame the story." -- Norma Basch, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
"In a remarkably original social/legal history, Batlan is asking readers to rethink what lawyering has meant and could mean. And when you ask ‘outside the box’ questions, you come up with surprising answers. This book can help us understand why law today can be far from justice." -- Linda Gordon, Florence Kelley Professor of History, New York University
More information is available here.

May 14, 2015 in Books, Poverty, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Get the Facts: Statistics on Women in the Law

ABA Commission on Women, A Current Glance at Women in the Law (July 2014).

Women are:

  • 34% of the legal profession
  • 44.8% of associates 
  • 17% of equity partners
  • 20% of all partners
  • 4% of managing partners at BigLaw
  • 16% of general counsels
  • 47% of law students
  • 46% of law review leaders
  • 20% of law deans
  • 45.7% of associate deans
  • 66% of assistant deans
  • 24% of the federal judiciary
  • 27% of the state judiciary
  • and women lawyers make 78.9% of what men make

May 7, 2015 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)