Thursday, July 31, 2014
Rebecca Lee (Thomas Jefferson), has posted Book Review, Sonia Sotomayor: Role Model of Empathy and Purposeful Ambition, Minnesota Law Rev. Headnotes (2013).
In writing her memoir, My Beloved World, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressly acknowledges that she is a public role model and embraces this responsibility by making herself accessible to a broad audience. As a public figure, she sees an opportunity to connect with others through an account of her life journey, with details of initial challenges and lessons learned along the way, to show that one’s beginnings need not constrain one’s aspirations. Although her memoir ends at the point she begins her judicial career, twenty years ago, her experiences and reflections provide a sense of how she may approach her work on the Supreme Court, including the importance she attaches to perspective-taking — or empathy — in relating to others and viewing the larger world. Her empathic skill, as well as her understanding of public purpose as a Justice and role model, all serve to strengthen the judicial function and present a hopeful picture of further important contributions to come as she continues her work on the bench.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Updated June 25: New Additions to the List
I thought I would try and track the new law deans that are women. Please help me add to this list by sending me an email (email@example.com) or posting a comment below. For background, see Laura Padilla (Cal Western), A Gendered Update on Women Law Deans: Who, Where, Why and Why Not? (2007)
Jocelyn Benson, (Interim Dean, Wayne State), Dean, Wayne State
Jennifer Collins (Vice-Provost, Wake Forest), Dean, SMU
Phyllis Crocker (former Interim & Assoc. Dean, Cleveland State), Dean, Detroit Mercy
Danielle Holley-Walker (Assoc. Dean, South Carolina), Dean, Howard
Jean Holloway (corporate attorney), Dean, Hamline
Jennifer Johnson (professor, Lewis & Clark), Dean, Lewis & Clark
Gillian Lester (acting Dean, Berkeley), Dean, Columbia
Andrea Lyon (criminal attorney), Dean, Valparaiso
Wendy Scott, (former Associate Dean, NC Central), Dean, Mississippi College
Nancy Staudt (Vice Dean, USC), Dean, Wash U
Judith Areen (former Dean, Georgetown), Executive Director, AALS
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Naomi Cahn's book review for Concurring Opinions on The Good Lawyer by Doug Linder and Nancy Levit. The "good lawyer" possesses certain qualities:
Those attributes are addressed in nine of the book’s ten chapters, and they range from empathy to moral courage, cognitive skills, willpower, civility, honesty, and open-mindedness. As they explore the good lawyers’ attributes, the authors draw on behavioral economics, Tonglen Buddhism, cognitive psychology, and the law to support and explain their point
Monday, June 16, 2014
I've blogged about Gianmarco Monsellato's admirable initiative to ensure that women lawyers in his large French law firm get equal pay and equal assignments as do their male counterparts.
Monsellato believes that the popular American approach to form "diversity committees" and to "lean in" are absurd because the partners themselves have all the power and that genuine fairness must be initiated by them.
A female CEO blogger for the Harvard Business Review Blog notes that those partners like Monsellato are themselves "outsiders" to their firms and that it might very well take such an outsider to implement serious changes:
Interestingly, in my experience, most of the leaders who’ve pushed hardest for gender balance are themselves not fully members of their companies’ dominant majority. They are often a different nationality than most of their colleagues, or the first non-home- country CEO. So, for example, the Peruvian-born Carlos Ghosn at Nissan in Japan, the Dutch Marijn Dekkers at BAYER (disclosure: they are a client) in Germany, or the Italian Monsellato at TAJ in France.
There is nothing better than being a bit of an outsider to understand the particular stickiness of the in-group’s hold on power. These are some of the more enlightened leaders on gender balance. They build true meritocracies, they get the best of 100% of the global talent pool – and they will win a huge competitive edge in this century of globalization.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
From WashPost, Women and Work: Opt out or pushed out? The data.
In recent weeks, four law firms announced the first-ever, one-year “On Ramp” fellowships designed to help people — primarily women — who left the workforce to start families, care for aging parents or pursue other opportunities get back into the legal profession.
Baker Botts, Cooley, Hogan Lovells and Sidley Austin have chosen nine women out of a pool of 170. The women had been out of the workforce for between three and 20 years. Other “returnship” programs for women who’ve been sidelined have been offered at Goldman Sachs, Sara Lee, Credit Suisse and others. The BBC just ran a piece on the Credit Suisse program.
Some call women leaving the workforce in order to balance work and family life “opting out.” Social scientists who study workplace culture say it’s more like they were “pushed out” because workplaces require long, demanding hours of face time and see flexible or part-time work as almost a sign of weakness. And, unlike in other advanced economies, there are no policies or laws that give real support to working families.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Women lawyers earn less because they are billed out at significantly lower rates. Female Lawyers Can Work Longer and Harder but Will Still Be Paid Less. Why? Firms don't equally value women's work? Firms don't think clients equally value women's work? Or so clients can get the same work product for less? (think teachers in the 19th century)
Another report traces a similar phenomenon back to high school: A Woman With Perfect Grades is Worth the Same as a Man with a 2.0 Average
Thursday, May 29, 2014
I want to come back to John's post from yesterday. This really resonates with me. This was my experience during my tenure in a Washington, D.C. law firm. Gender equity and diversity came not from women’s support groups, what we now call lean in circles, but from men in power delegating and dispensing power to women.
Early in my second year at the law firm, 1992, 22 years ago, we had a ladies lunch. Officially a business lunch of women associates at the firm, maybe 30 plus women in the room. We heard testimonies of women who exemplified how they were making it work. One woman, a senior associate, told how her male supervising partner valued her work, allowed her to go to 80% time so she could work 9-5, and how her husband had primary caregiving responsibility for their two young children. Another junior associate told how it was easier for her to have her two children early in her career, as the ongoing years increased responsibility and client connection that unlike a research memo, could not be easily transferred. Another senior associate advised to make yourself indispensable to your supervising partner, always doing excellent work, making yourself accessible at home (this was before cell phones found you anywhere).
But none of this is what really made a material difference to the women attorneys. What mattered was the men in power investing in their women associates. (There were only a handful of female partners among the hundreds at the firm at the time). Providing good work, mediating any client issues, and supporting those women as they came up through the ranks in terms of promotion and salary. One male partner I worked for from the start threw me into depositions, briefing, oral arguments, and wrote solid, supportive, professional advancement reviews. Another provided helpful professional advice as to next steps and development, providing opportunities for professional growth and increasingly sophisticated lawyering. Conversely, another relegated me as a senior associate to the backroom and bottom-tier status of fact gather and memo writer on an antitrust case. In another example, my friend and colleague became partner while on permanent part-time status, again, proactively sponsored by a senior male partner from the firm's management group.
It doesn’t take one mastermind to change the world. It takes each person in power simply training, promoting, and investing equally in women. Maybe that has to be deliberate and planned until it becomes reflexive.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Gianmarco Monsellato is a partner at the No. 5 law firm in France. His firm also has 50/50 gender balance at every level--including equity partnership.
How did he do it? Dramatically differently than most law firms. Most of his competitors have spent years organizing women’s initiatives, networks, or mentoring programs that have done little to increase the percentage of women reaching the top. The National Association of Women Lawyers’ recent report is pretty clear: These “fix the women” approaches have not delivered.
Monsellato puts the burden squarely on the partner himself to be extremely proactive:
Instead, Monsellato tackled the problem personally. He was involved in every promotion discussion. “For a long time,” he says, “I was the only one allocating cases.” He insisted on gender parity from the beginning. He personally ensured that the best assignments were evenly awarded between men and women. He tracked promotions and compensation to ensure parity. If there was a gap, he asked why. He put his best female lawyers on some of his toughest cases. When clients objected, he personally called them up and asked them to give the lawyer three months to prove herself. In every case, the client was quick to agree and managed to overcome the initial gender bias.
The idea is intriguing. It is also an idea that probably requires the right combination of corporate culture, amenable clients, and, most importantly, a highly deft corporate leader who also possesses an unusal charisma and great foresight about business productivity. Not easy to duplicate this model.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Saurabh Vishnubhakat (Postdoc, Duke & NIH), has posted Gender Diversity in the Patent Bar, 14 John Marshall L. Rev. __ (2014). From the abstract:
This article describes the state of gender diversity across technology and geography within the U.S. patent bar. The findings rely on a new gender-matched dataset, the first public dataset of its kind, not only of all attorneys and agents registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but also of attorneys and agents on patents granted by the USPTO. To enable follow-on research, the article describes all data and methodology and offers suggestions for refinement. This study is timely in view of renewed interest about the participation of women in the U.S. innovation ecosystem, notably the provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act directing the USPTO to study diversity, including gender diversity, among patent applicants, and of related research by the National Women’s Business Council on usage of the U.S. patent and trademark systems by U.S.-based female entrepreneurs. Analysis of gender data on the patent bar complements these studies and begins to provide a more complete picture of diversity in the U.S. patent system.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Theresa Beiner (Arkansas-Little Rock) has published Theorizing Billable Hours, 75 Mont. L. Rev. 67 (2014).
This article looks at the ethical and diversity implications of high billable hour requirements. While corporate counsel have increasingly demanded a diverse legal workforce and emphasized the need to lower the costs of outside counsel, law firms have not responded to these concerns in a manner that is producing results. Instead, women continue to drop out of law firm practice at higher rates than their male counterparts and the costs of legal services remain high. High billable hour requirements exacerbate both these problems and have implications as well for ethical lawyering. Using data from a variety of disciplines, the article shows that not only do high billable hour requirements make large law firms difficult places for women to succeed, but they also foster work environments that are inefficient and therefore cost clients more. This has implications on a lawyer’s ethical duty not to discriminate based on sex and not to charge an unreasonable fee, and also increases the potential of lawyers making mistakes. Studies of lawyers suggest that high billable hour requirements exacerbate the difficulties women have in practice, especially for those women who have family responsibilities. This leads to high dropout rates from law firm practice that hurt both law firms and their clients. Lowering billable hours will increase the possibility that women will succeed in these workplaces while making lawyers more efficient. Using studies of sleep deprivation and sleep restriction, this article explores what clients are getting for their money from sleep-deprived high billable hour lawyers. It is clear that both sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction impair the average person’s ability to function on many levels—including neurocognitive performance that has important implications for lawyering. In addition, studies of workplace productivity have shown that limiting working hours can actually increase productivity. Thus, limiting hours logically should produce more efficient and ethical lawyering while making law firms more feasible work environments for women.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Nichola Gutgold, The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women (2012). From the jacket:
The Supreme Court is one of the most traditional institutions in America that has been an exclusively male domain for almost two hundred years. From 1981 to 2010, four women were appointed to the Supreme Court for the first time in U.S. history. The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women: From Obstacles to Options, by Nichola D. Gutgold, analyzes the rhetoric of the first four women elected to the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Gutgold’s thorough exploration of these pioneering women’s rhetorical strategies includes confirmation hearings, primary scripts of their written opinions, invited public lectures, speeches, and personal interviews with Justices O’Connor, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. These illuminating documents and interviews form rhetorical biographies of the first four women of the Supreme Court, shedding new light on the rise of political women in the American judiciary and the efficacy of their rhetoric in a historically male-dominated political system. Gutgold’s The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women provides valuable insight into political communication and the changing gender zeitgeist in American politics.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
An article from the Sunday New York Times How Not to Pick Judges by Maya Sen (political science, Rochester) has been getting a lot of media play. The takeaway is that the ABA's judicial rating system perpetuates gender and racial bias.
RESEARCH has long shown that female judges vote differently from men on issues of sex discrimination, harassment and sentencing, while black judges vote differently from whites on issues involving civil rights and affirmative action.
Still, despite decades of effort by presidents and advocacy groups to promote minority and female candidates to the bench, our 1,355 sitting federal judges remain 81 percent white and 76 percent male.
A surprising part of the problem, as I show in a new study in the Journal of Law and Courts, is linked to the American Bar Association’s system for rating judicial candidates, which plays a surprisingly large role in judge selection.
Sen's empirical research showed that:
even when matching comparable candidates, the bar association rates minorities and women significantly lower than their white or male counterparts. For example, African-Americans are 42 percentage points less likely to receive a “well qualified” (or “exceptionally well qualified,” when that category was still being used) rating than are whites who have comparable educational and professional qualifications and are nominated by the same president. Women are 19 percentage points less likely to earn a thumbs up.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
From the ABA Journal, How Much Less do Women Lawyers and Judges Earn than Men?
Women lawyers and judges earn about 82 percent of what their male counterparts make, reports The Upshot, a New York Times blog.
The data comes from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist. She wrote a paper, "A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter" (PDF), which was published this month in the American Economic Review.
Women doctors and surgeons earn 71 percent what their male counterparts earn, according to Goldin’s research, and female accountants earn 76 percent of what male accountants make. Goldin maintains that workplace flexibility could help solve the problem.
“The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours,” she wrote in the paper.
Looking for a profession with no gender differences in pay? Female human resources pecialists earn 100 percent of what their male counterparts earn, according to Goldin’s research, as do advertising salespeople and dental hygienists.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
From the new Clinical Law Prof Blog, Do Women Professors Underperform? By perform, the post means produce scholarship and advance to full professor. After being somewhat taken aback by the title, I was even more taken aback by this assertion. "Women comprised just 24.5 percent of scholarly authors in the field of law from 1991 to 2010."
Saturday, April 12, 2014
[Judge John] Lewis said the legal profession risks losing respect because so many more women are becoming lawyers. In Russia, Lewis reportedly said, doctors are not respected because medicine is a female-dominated profession. Lewis also reportedly said the teaching profession has been harmed because females are choosing careers in law over education.
The committee found that Lewis created the appearance of impropriety by using words that may have reasonably been interpreted to show bias based on gender.
The committee also said its investigation raised concerns about Lewis’ treatment of alleged victims in sexual assault cases. In a different meeting, Lewis was accused of saying that aggressive prosecution of child sexual assault cases may ultimately do more harm than good to the families and the public. Lewis tells the Union Leader those remarks were about a specific case.
Lewis agreed to the reprimand. He said in a statement to the committee (PDF) that he didn’t intend to demean or insult women. “My exploratory comments were not meant as a put-down, a criticism or a statement blaming women for wanting to be professionals and seeking to rise as far as they could go in the work arena,” he said. “What I feared was that our society’s continued sexism might be at work, as it has in the past, to diminish the work women did.”
Lewis said his daughter has just finished law school and his wife is a feminist. He formerly prosecuted sex and other discrimination cases for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and pursued sex discrimination cases on behalf of women while in private practice.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Beth Burkstrand-Reid (Nebraska) joins us as guest blogger this month. Her research focuses on reproductive rights and women's health, specifically abortion, birth control and pregnancy-related law. She is the recipient of the 2014 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Status of Women, presented by the UNL Chancellor and the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women . Prior to her legal career, Professor Burkstrand-Reid was a journalist, with her writing appearing in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. She's on Twitter @beth_burkstrand.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf, author of the now-infamous “On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress,” has returned to his computer, addressing the controversy his blog generated. In one recent post, titled "The Top Ten Things I Learned from Being a (Fill in Epithet of Choice)," Kopf said:
I despise faux apologies. So, for the uber outraged, hear this: I believe what I wrote. But the Judge makes it clear that his post did have some unintended consequences. Says Kopf: "Most importantly, the federal trial courts (including the one in which I am privileged to preside) are places where all female lawyers are safe. Thus, I am deeply ashamed that my post generated the following fearful comment from a real trial lawyer that I presume is entirely genuine: "Wow, am I ever glad I don’t have to appear before you. I would be very uncomfortable, having read your post.”
Kopf also discloses that the original "true story" he told about a woman lawyer who "wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest" was "untrue, although it was essentially accurate. It was an amalgam intended to take separate but similar experiences of mine in the courtroom and to blend them together precisely so I didn't identify anyone."
Thursday, March 27, 2014
From the Wall St. J., Judge Kopf Causes a Stir with a Blog Post about Female Lawyers
The title of it, “On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress,” captures what follows. In the post, Judge Kopf urges female lawyers to wear less revealing clothes, while confessing his conflicted feelings over his sexual attraction to a young female lawyer in her late 20s who comes to court in skimpy outfits.
Writes the judge:
True story. Around these parts there is a wonderfully talented and very pretty female lawyer who is in her late twenties. She is brilliant, she writes well, she speaks eloquently, she is zealous but not overly so, she is always prepared, she treats others, including her opponents, with civility and respect, she wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest. I especially appreciate the last two attributes.
“Ewwww!” was the response from an Omaha World-Herald columnist in a scathing piece about the post. “Are you kidding me?” said a Nebraska prosecutor interviewed by the columnist. “This is a federal judge.”
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Dahlia Lithwick, at Slate, has a sit down with Anita Hill over her new documentary in Talking to Anita Hill. Interesting how, in true feminist form, her own life experiences almost involuntarily drew her into her life's work, transitioning from her early legal career in commerical law and contracts to a focus on sexual harassment. She thought her experience would only take a few years to explore the permutations of harassment, but instead it became a full-time focus.
I can see both sides here. I'm from the generation that started practice in the ridiculous no pants days. Ever try lugging a lit bag to court. 9 long city blocks. In the snow. Without ripping your hose. (Still eons before no hose times). And yet, the law student's 5 inch red stilettos for her on campus interview seemed terribly wrong.