Friday, February 17, 2017
Jennifer Mika, The Noteworthy Absence of Women Advocates at the US Supreme Court, 25 American J. Gender, Social Policy & Law 1 (2016)
Abstract:Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court is considered one of the most prestigious accomplishments in a litigator’s career. However, during the last five terms, women consistently make up less than one fifth of this elite club. This article takes a closer look at the advocates that argued before the Supreme Court during the 2015-2016 term as well as those who appeared more than once in a given term over the past six years. It explores the possible causes of the deficit in women advocates including gender disparity in Supreme Court clerkship experience. It strives to start a dialogue about how the gender gap in Supreme Court advocacy can be closed.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
From the archives of Judge Florence Allen. Allen was the first woman judge elected to a state supreme court (Ohio in 1922), appointed to a US Court of Appeals (6th Circuit), and shortlisted for the US Supreme Court. She saved this card sent to her from friends.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Susie Salmon, Reconstructing the Voice of Authority
Abstract:Notwithstanding the presence of three women on the United States Supreme Court, in terms of gender equality, surprisingly little has changed in the legal profession over the past twenty years. This stagnation is particularly apparent in the highest paying and most prestigious sectors, such as the Supreme Court bar, the top echelons of the top law firms, the judiciary, and the general-counsel’s office. Even where objective facts suggest that female lawyers should be hired, billed out, or compensated at the same or higher rate than their male peers, subjective decisions informed, in part, by bias and stereotype drive a different result.
This Article proposes that, until we stop indoctrinating law students that a “good lawyer” looks, sounds, and presents like the Classical warrior — that is, a male — these barriers will persist. For many law students, the first place they get to model what it means to look, sound, and act like a lawyer is in moot court or other oral-argument exercises. Especially in light of an overall law-school culture that reinforces the significance of inborn abilities, it is not hard to see how moot court’s frequent emphasis on “natural” oral-advocacy talent, and its implicit connection of that talent to traits traditionally associated with men, can influence how students — and later lawyers — develop rigid conceptions of what a good lawyer looks, sounds, and acts like. And continuing to uncritically teach the values of Classical rhetoric — values inherited from a culture that silenced women’s voices in the public sphere — exacerbates the problem. This Article explores the dynamics and consequences of reinforcing the male paradigm in the way we coach and judge moot court and other oral-advocacy exercises, highlights some barriers to change, and proposes concrete steps legal educators, practitioners, and judges can take to help change what the voice of authority sounds like in the legal profession.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent a large portion of her legal career advocating for women’s rights and was appointed as the second female justice to the Supreme Court in 1993. In this animated interview, she describes attending law school with a 14-month-old baby at home. Ginsburg attributes some of her career successes to her husband’s flexibility and the experience of being a mother. “I think I had better balance, better sense of proportions of what matters,” she says. "I felt each part of my life gave me respite from the other.”
This interview was conducted by Ryan Park for his story "What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught Me About Being a Stay-at-Home Dad".
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Alice Woolley & Elysa Darling, Nasty Women and the Rule of Law, Univ. San Fran. (forthcoming)
No one enters the legal profession expecting social popularity – or, at least. no one should. But recent events create the impression that women lawyers face more than the generic suggestions of dishonesty, untrustworthiness, greed and adversarialism that typify anti-‐lawyer criticisms. For women lawyers, attacks and criticism are role-‐related (arising from her occupation of the professional role) but also personal, specific and gendered. Lawyers in general are labeled as morally troubling; women lawyers risk being specifically and personally identified as morally transgressive, even when performing acts expected of a person in their role. Women who take on law firm leadership, advocate in notorious trials, lead teams in complex corporate transactions, demonstrate political ambitions or political leadership – that is, women who do things that lawyers might normally be expected to do– risk particularly gendered and hostile forms of criticism. They risk being labeled unlikable, unattractive, unfeminine, unpleasant, immoral–a bitch. Such attacks are not certain to occur. They may be more likely for some women than for others; the form and tone they take almost certainly varies with context. But a woman who chooses to enter the legal profession does not just risk generic unpopularity. She also risks being labeled a “nasty woman”.
That, at least, is the premise of this paper. We do not prove that women lawyers risk being attacked in this way, although we note some examples of women lawyers who have been, consider some objections to the premise, and discuss the extent to which gender equality has eluded the legal profession to date, even in comparison to other professions. Instead, we focus on why gendered and personal attacks on women might occur....
Our thesis is that attacks on women lawyers arise from the intersection between the normative structure of the lawyer's role and sexist stereotypes. The lawyer's function in achieving the social settlement of law, including maintaining the rule of law, requires lawyers to occupy positions of moral ambiguity and power. Lawyers have the privilege and responsibility to pursue the interests of their clients within the bounds of legality, even where doing so inflicts harm or violates valued norms of ordinary morality. That role makes all lawyers unpopular, but when combined with prescriptive gender stereotypes about appropriate conduct for women, it makes women lawyers seem not merely morally dubious, but also personally dangerous. That is, the danger presented by a woman lawyer connects to the woman herself; she presents the danger rather than simply being a part of a group or category of dangerous people; she invites moral outrage.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Hannah Brenner & Renee Newman Knake, Shortlisted, UCLA Women's L.J. (forthcoming)
Abstract:Mildred Lillie fortunately had no children, as the New York Times noted in 1971, and even in her fifties, maintained “a bathing beauty figure.” Lillie was not, however, a swimsuit model. She was one of President Nixon’s possible nominees to the United States Supreme Court. Shortlisted tells the stories of nearly a dozen extraordinary women considered for the Court, but ultimately not nominated, before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first in 1981. The public nature of the nomination process enables us to analyze the scrutiny of these women by the profession and media, and analogize to those similarly not selected, elected, or appointed to political office, corporate governance, the judiciary, law firm partnership, and other positions of power. We find that the stories of those women who did not attain these various power roles are as compelling as those who did. Our work builds upon and transcends previous scholarly work on the theory of the “leaking pipeline” — i.e. that women enter the profession in numbers equal to men but do not advance — and dispels the persistent myth that there is a dearth of sufficiently qualified women. The framework for this project, exploring decades of women shortlisted to the Court pre-O’Connor from Presidents Roosevelt to Reagan, allows gender bias to be viewed in a vibrant historical context and illuminates ideas for future advancement of women in law and beyond. Shortlisted explores the gendered experiences of this elite group of women — both professional and personal — and situates their stories within the context of gender, judging, and the legal profession. This project is one of first impression. We are the first scholars to identify and assess these women together in light of their shared experience of being shortlisted. Their individual and collective stories have largely gone untold. Until now
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Joyce Sterling & Nancy Reichman, Overlooked and Undervalued: Women in Private Law Practice, 12 Annual Rev. Law & Soc. Science 373 (2016)
This article examines the durability of gender inequality in private law practice since Kay & Gorman published their comprehensive review in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science in 2008. We begin with some of the changes in legal practice that intensified during the Great Recession and help to contextualize women's lack of progress. We turn next to a contemporary profile of women in private practice that demonstrates empirically where women stand. We look at some of the organizational mechanisms that seem to perpetuate inequality. The challenges of integrating work and family dominated the discussion of women's lack of progress in earlier reviews of women in the legal profession and continue to matter greatly. We assume the persistence of these challenges and instead focus on ways that the mechanisms or strategies for determining compensation systematically overlook and undervalue women's contributions. We consider the different social science frameworks that explain women as overlooked and undervalued for their contributions. We conclude with proposed suggestions for changes aimed at remedying the problems discussed here.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Abstract:There is a national conversation about the role and responsibility of colleges in addressing campus sexual assault, including a debate about the definition of consent, reporting requirements, interim measures, adjudicatory processes, appropriate standard of proof, accused students’ legal rights, and judicial oversight. As colleges increase internal reporting requirements and form information-sharing agreements with local law enforcement agencies, student victims begin to lose their choice and agency in reporting decisions and investigations. And as college adjudicatory proceedings become more complicated and extend past adjudicatory findings into appeals and lawsuits, student victims lose their voice and ability to fully enforce their rights. It is time to bring victims back into the discussion by acknowledging their legal rights to safety, privacy, and education, and by providing attorneys to ensure victims’ choice and voice throughout overlapping legal processes.
Survivors of sexual assault generally report negative experiences with the criminal justice system, civil law system, and campus adjudicatory system - all a source of secondary trauma. Access to individualized, comprehensive legal advice at all stages of sexual assault investigations and the adjudication process has the potential to diminish secondary trauma by providing student victims with two vital tools: a choice to initiate and participate in a criminal and/or campus investigation by providing sufficient information for informed consent and a voice throughout the investigation and legal proceedings.
Part I employs storytelling to illustrate the experience of many survivors of campus sexual assault following their disclosure or report of the assault. Part II provides an overview of campus sexual assault. Part III provides a brief summary of Title IX, the civil rights law addressing sex discrimination in education. Part IV discusses the theories of secondary trauma (i.e. second rape) and victim justice. Part V proposes the four stages in which student victims of sexual assault might benefit from access to victims’ attorneys: pre-reporting, investigations, campus hearing, and post hearings (appeals and lawsuits).
Thursday, December 8, 2016
The new podcasts on Women in the Law have been released.
From their summary:
Over six weeks, this podcast mini-series will advance the conversation on the many challenges, both professional and personal, that women continue to face as members of the legal profession. Through first-person narratives, thoughtful conversations, and synthesis of economic and social science research, this show will add to the myriad of work fighting against decades of systemic problems.
We hope to empower both women and men to recognize and constructively address a wide range of workplace issues that negatively impact women, the organizations and firms they work for, the clients they represent, and the society we all live in.
The New York Times had a recent article on the leaky pipeline research highlighted in the podcasts: More Law Degrees for Women, but Fewer Good Jobs
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Beverley Baines, Women Judges and Constitutional Courts: Why Not Nine? in Constitutions and Gender (Helen Irving, ed. forthcoming)
Abstract:We should take Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s question “Why not nine women?” seriously. Justice Ginsburg has served on the United States Supreme Court since 1992 and her proposal is for an all-women Court. Western democracies do not appear poised to adopt her proposal; nor have they endorsed the prevailing proposals for parity by feminist scholars Erika Rackley and Sally Kenney or for feminist judges by Rosemary Hunter and Beatriz Kohen. To explain why these proposals had some initial successes but are now stagnating, I frame them as deploying a “strategy of containment”, a strategy defined by Jamie R. Abrams to explain the loss of efficacy of feminist domestic violence reform. Situating Justice Ginsburg’s proposal as “moving beyond the strategy of containment”, I draw on women’s judgments in Australian, Canadian, German, Indian, Indonesian, Israeli, South African, British and American constitutional cases about or with significance for women’s equality. Whether writing as the only, often the first, woman on a national “constitutional” court, or deciding cases where more than one woman justice wrote a judgment, the richness of their adjudicative diversity demonstrates that women can comprehensively perform the tasks of adjudicating constitutional cases. Far from posing a threat to democracy or the rule of law, the legacy of women jurists’ voices illustrates how they promote constitutional justice for women and men.
Monday, October 3, 2016
Charges that the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law violated federal law by paying women full professors less than their male counterparts, which first surfaced in 2013, now have become a federal lawsuit filed on Friday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
DU law professor Lucy Marsh originally filed the charges with the EEOC. The agency engaged in talks with the university to remedy the situation, but those efforts failed in May, according to the filing.
The suit says that Marsh had worked for the university for 37 years at the time of the 2013 charge, but that her annual salary, $111,977, was less than every male full-time law professor, including many who were hired after she started. Among nine full-time female full professors, the average annual salary was nearly $20,000 less than the full-time male professors — a finding the suit claims is statistically significant.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
The life and times of a trailblazing feminist in American law. The first female Stanford law professor was also first director of the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, one of the first women to be an Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and the biographer of California’s first woman lawyer, Clara Foltz. Survivor, pioneer, leader, and fervent defender of the powerless and colorful mobsters alike, Barbara Babcock led by example and by the written word — and recounts her part ofhistory in this candid and personal memoir.
"For woman lawyers, Barbara Babcock has led the way. How? By being smarter and tougher than the men; also, more empathetic and self-aware. Funny, shrewd, and telling, her memoir Fish Raincoats is a joy to read.”
— Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon: A Man Divided
“Life will afford you no better sherpa on the extraordinary journey women have taken in the legal profession than Barbara Babcock. This book should be required reading for anyone who isn’t certain that they have a place at the lawyers table. Babcock’s amazing life has made a space for so many of us. Her story will do the same.”
— Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, Slate
Here is also a book review I wrote of Babcock's key work on the biography of California's first lawyer Clara Foltz. Book Review: Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz (Stanford Press 2011).
Thursday, August 18, 2016
A former county prosecutor in Vermont has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was paid about $14,000 less per year than a male prosecutor in the same position.
Lawyer Jane O’Neill sued the Rutland County State’s Attorneys office in a suit filed last month, the Burlington Free Press reports.
O’Neill says she was told her salary was not negotiable when she was hired, and she got no answers when she asked about the pay of the male colleague who was hired in 2011. She also claims her boss assigned her lesser tasks and tried to marginalize her in retaliation for her questions.
The suit also claims O’Neill regularly worked 50 to 60 hours a week, but did not get compensation for the extra hours.
O’Neill says she resigned in mid-2014 because working conditions had become intolerable.
A federal jury . . . rejected a former state prosecutor’s claims that she was paid less than her male counterparts in the Suffolk district attorney’s office because she is a woman.
In a unanimous decision, the jury of six women and two men also disagreed with Christina Corda’s claims that her termination from the office was based on her complaints of discrimination. Corda, 34, had filed a lawsuit against the Suffolk district attorney’s office in March 2015. But in a sweeping verdict Thursday, the jury rejected her claims of discrimination, of retaliation, and of violations of state and federal equal pay laws.
A former deputy criminal chief for theU.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane, Washington, filed a scathing sex discrimination and equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, claiming she was treated differently by male colleagues and ultimately forced to resign.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Jill Bolton claims she was unfairly put on administrative leave by Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Washington, after he learned she obtained information showing a discrepancy in salaries between her and similarly situated male colleagues. Ormsby characterized Bolton’s actions as a “data breach” and made criminal allegations against her, but another U.S. attorney’s office declined to file charges, her complaint says.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Anna Bryson & Kieran McEvoy, Women Lawyers and the Struggle for Change in Conflict and Transition, 42 Australian Fem. L.J. (2016)
Abstract:This article examines the particular experiences of female "cause lawyers" in conflicted and transitional societies. Drawn from an ongoing comparative project which involved fieldwork in Cambodia, Chile, Israel, Palestine, Tunisia and South Africa, the paper looks at opportunities, obstacles and the obduracy required from such lawyers to "make a difference" in these challenging contexts. Drawing upon the theoretical literature on the sociology of the legal profession, cause-lawyers, gender and transitional justice, and the structure/agency nexus, the article considers in turn the conflict\cause-lawyering intersection and the work of cause-lawyers in transitional contexts. It concludes by arguing that the case-study of cause-lawyers offers a rebuttal to the charge that transitional justice is just like ‘ordinary justice’. It also contends that, notwithstanding the durability of patriarchal power in transitional contexts, law remains a site of struggle, not acquiescence, and many of these cause-lawyers have and continue to exercise both agency and responsibility in ‘taking on’ that power.
Monday, August 1, 2016
Recent research by ALM Intelligence seems to confirm my hunch. Besides the usual dreadful news about how women make up only 18 percent of equity partners and only 8 percent of lawyers earning more than $500,000 (yes, that’s not a typo), the research shows that women are steadily leaving firms, including those who are past their child-bearing years. As Nicholas Bruch, senior analyst at ALM Legal Intelligence, writes:
“What is known is that women do not leave the law disproportionately at a specific time in their lives or careers. The analysis of ALM’s Rival Edge database below reveals that women trickle out of Big Law by a few percentage points per year of age. The analysis shows that among 30-year-old lawyers at Big Law firms, women comprise 45 percent. Among lawyers who are 40 years old, however, women only comprise 41 percent, a decrease of 4 percentage points. By age 50, women only make up 27 percent of the lawyers, a change of 14 percentage points.”
This is stunning: By age 50, women only make up 27 percent of lawyers in big firms. That means a stampede of women are leaving in their menopausal years. So much for the cozy myth that women are dropping out to pop out babies and drive the carpool.
That also means that, while their male counterparts are at the top of their game and raking in big bucks, many women are quietly throwing in the towel. I say “quietly” because you don’t hear about these women who stick it out at firms, only to leave when they should be enjoying the fruits of their labor.
I find this shocking, but Hastings Law School professor Joan Williams says she is not surprised. “Women lawyers in their 50s are really upset about compensation. They have the sense that men and women are not treated fairly,” she says.
The inequity in pay between male and female partners is a huge sore point for women, explains Williams, who says her preliminary study about pay gaps in law firms and corporations confirms a troubling, continuing trend. (Williams’ study is being done in conjunction with the ABA Commission on Women, Minority Corporate Counsel Association and WorkLife Law.) Indeed, the pay gap is well-documented; according to National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), female partners make only 80 percent of what men do. (Bruch says ALM’s finding that only 8 percent female lawyers earn more than $500,000 fit with NAWL’s finding; both indicate “that very few women are at the very top of the earning pyramid.”)
Another reason older women are leaving is that they are fed up with the game. “They get weary of decades and decades of proving themselves and being service partners, getting penalized being for that role, then getting penalized more if they protest,” Williams says.
“They just get worn down faster than men,” says Paula Monopoli, a law professor at the University of Maryland whose scholarship focuses on gender issues. A former law firm associate herself, Monopoli adds, “It’s not like making partner solves all the implicit bias. It can actually become more pronounced when you have fewer women in your cohort.”
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Josephine Dawuni & Alice Kang, Her Ladyship Chief Justice: The Rise of Female Leaders in the Judiciary in Africa, 62 Africa Today 45 (2015)
In recent years, women have been selected as leaders of African judiciaries. This article identifies where and when women have become chief justices and presidents of constitutional courts from 1990 to 2014. We profile women from three civil-law and three common-law countries and find that the women selected meet or exceed the requirements for holding the highest position in the judiciary. We then explore why some African countries, but not others, have had female judicial leaders. We initially find that the selection method may be less important than the type of legal system, the commitment of gatekeepers, the end of major armed conflict, and regional diffusion in explaining why some countries have seen women rise to leadership positions in the judiciary.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
As a trailblazing attorney, Bessie Margolin lived a life of exceptional achievement. At a time when the legal profession consisted almost entirely of men, she earned the esteem of her colleagues and rose to become one of the most successful Supreme Court advocates of her era. Doing so, as Marlene Trestman demonstrates inFair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin(Louisiana State University Press, 2016), required overcoming not just the ingrained assumptions that men had towards professional women during that time but also the poverty of her early childhood and the loss of her mother when Margolin was only three years old. As Trestman reveals, Margolin exploited to the full the opportunities she was given as a ward of the Jewish Orphans Home in New Orleans, which provided her with a comfortable upbringing and a good education. From Newcomb College and Tulane University, Margolin went on to a fellowship at Yale University and a career in the federal government, which she began by participating in the defense of some of the most important laws to come out of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program and concluded by championing measures mandating equal pay and opposing age discrimination. And yet Trestman shows that for all of the sacrifices she made to establish a career for herself, Margolin did so on her own terms and in a way that many Americans can relate to today.
Friday, July 1, 2016
Why aren’t there more women arbitrators? Chris Poole, chief executive officer of JAMS, the dispute resolution company, says it’s primarily because of stereotyping in the legal profession.
Law.com spoke with Poole following last week’s pledge by hundreds of individuals and organizations worldwide to increase the number of women arbitrators, who make up just 10 to 15 percent of appointments to international matters.
Poole acknowledged that JAMS, which has boosted its number of women arbitrators recruited during the past three years to 50 percent, still has work to do to increase the overall supply.
But he pointed to the “institutional bias” of lawyers—men and women—who select arbitrators as the main reason.
It mirrors other findings. See Gina Brown & Gender Differences in Dispute Resolution Practice: Report on the ABA Dispute Resolution Practice Section Snapshot Survey, 47 Akron L.Rev. 975 (2015)
Friday, June 17, 2016
It’s not every day that a constitutional lawyer gets treated like a rock star. But at South African President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Union address in February, reporters jostled to hear what Thulisile Madonsela had to say about it, and onlookers took to Twitter to gush about her and her canary-yellow dress.
“Please, can we have her as president!” one pleaded.
Madonsela is not just a lawyer. She is also South Africa’s public protector, an ombudsman-like post that has come to symbolize for many a struggle for rule of law and better governance in this young democracy.