Wednesday, September 23, 2015
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.
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
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
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.
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.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
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, 2015. Please 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.
Friday, July 31, 2015
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.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
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.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
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."
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
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
Lyn Entzeroth (Tulsa), Tulsa
Melanie Leslie (Cardozo), Cardozo
Jennifer Mnookin (UCLA), UCLA
Suzanne Reynolds (Wake Forest), Wake Forest
Laura Rosenbury (Wash U), Florida
Melanie Wilson (Kansas), Tennessee
Help keep the list current. Add others to comments below.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
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.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
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.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Excited - my friend Felice Batlan's book is out! Here's the review from the Legal History Blog.
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
More information is available here."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
Thursday, May 7, 2015
ABA Commission on Women, A Current Glance at Women in the Law (July 2014).
- 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
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
3. Ms. Mosby has to overcome doubters who may be skeptical of her experience.
Several residents interviewed in West Baltimore recently said they knew little about Ms. Mosby and even Ms. Mosby’s strongest supporters acknowledge that she faces doubts from some city residents. Before an election victory last year that surprised many, Ms. Mosby had spent three years as field counsel at Liberty Mutual Insurance, reviewing and defending against suspicious claims. Before that, she was an assistant state’s attorney for five years. “I’ve seen this repeatedly where she’s sort of underestimated because of her age, or they think she doesn’t have enough experience,” said Kweisi Mfume, a former Maryland congressman and past head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ms. Mosby passed the bar in 2006 after graduating from Boston College Law School.
One reason Ms. Simon and Ms. Geller don’t feel they have to sneak out of the office is that there are no offices. The firm shuns a permanent home in favor of a shared work space managed by a company called Metro Offices, where it rents a conference room for an hour, an office for a day, as needed. Ms. Geller typically appears there once a week; Ms. Simon two or three times.
They did this partly to encourage their employees to work from home and on their own schedules. “My old firm would drive me bonkers,” Ms. Geller said. “If I have a slow week, why can’t I take a day, run errands? You’d better believe, when something urgent comes in, I’m going to work an all-nighter.” Four of the six employees have young children, and two set aside standing blocks of time to spend with them each week.
The other advantage is to hold down expenses, of course, which allows the Geller Law Group to maintain reasonable profit margins while charging less than competitors with higher overhead. (Ms. Simon and Ms. Geller, who bill themselves out at $280 an hour, conducted market research. Ms. Simon was determined to stay under $300 for the same psychological reason that “real estate agents price things at $999,000.”) To keep track of one another, the lawyers and a paralegal meticulously update their shared Google calendars and communicate constantly through Gchat.
Ms. Simon delights in the guerrilla-style logistics of a mostly virtual firm. She says clients generally don’t know that the firm doesn’t have its own space, though she tells them if they ask. If clients call the firm’s main number, they are greeted by an automated switchboard.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court's three female justices came together in Washington on Wednesday to pay tribute to retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her legacy in the law, her work with women judges and her push to improve civic education.
With the 85-year-old justice on hand, the event sponsored by Seneca Women was a rare occasion when the only four women who have served on the high court were all in the same room.
"There's more excitement here right now than I've seen in a long time," said Melanne Verveer, a co-founder of Seneca Women and formerly the chief of staff to Hillary Clinton as first lady.
Calling her "the incomparable Sandra Day O'Connor," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke of O'Connor as "a true cowgirl—resourceful and resilient" and praised her for the demeanor on the court during her tenure from 1981 to 2006.
"Sandra Day O'Connor has done more to promote collegiality" on the court, Ginsburg said, "than any other justice past or present." Never, Ginsburg said, did O'Connor resort to harsh criticism of other justices in her opinions and dissents.
National Law J, Introducing The National Law Journal's Outstanding Women Lawyers.
How many do you know?
Except ... they considered as factor number one in defining success "development of successful practices, especially new areas of law or practices typically dominated by men."
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
A former lawyer at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. who claimed that women older than 40 faced a “glass ceiling” within the company has lost her discrimination case.
Carla Calobrisi joined Booz Allen’s law department in 2000 at age 44, according to court records. In 2011, she said she was demoted from “principal” to “senior associate” as part of internal restructuring. She resigned shortly after and filed a lawsuit against Booz Allen in 2013.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga in Alexandria, Virginia, sided with Booz Allen last week and dismissed the case. Trenga found that Calobrisi failed to show that Booz Allen’s decision to restructure the law department was a pretext for discrimination.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Over the past three decades, an increasing number of women have joined the legal profession. Since 1992, women’s representation in law school classes has approached 50%. Despite record numbers of female judicial nominees and confirmations, the percentage of female federal judges, however, is far lower. It is of critical importance to increase the representation of women on the federal bench.
When women are fairly represented on our federal courts, those courts are more reflective of the diverse population of this nation and women, and men, may have more confidence that the court understands the real-world implications of its rulings. The increased presence of women on the bench improves the quality of justice: women judges can bring an understanding of the impact of the law on the lives of women and girls to the bench, and enrich courts’ understanding of how best to realize the intended purpose and effect of the law that the courts are charged with applying. For example, one recent study demonstrated that male federal appellate court judges are less likely to rule against plaintiffs bringing claims of sex discrimination, if a female judge is on the panel.
President Obama has appointed 129 female judges – more than any President to date. But to obtain true gender diversity, the number of women in the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, must be increased.
- Upon the confirmation of Associate Justice Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court counts three women among its nine Justices for the first time in history, still only one-third of the members of that Court. Only four of the 112 Justices ever to serve on the highest court in the land have been women.
- Sixty of the 171 active judges currently sitting on the thirteen federal courts of appeal are female (almost 35%). When broken down by circuit, women’s representation on several of these individual courts is even lower than on the courts of appeals overall:
- In particular, women are underrepresented on the Third Circuit (where they make up about 23% of judges) and the Eighth Circuit (18%).
- Thirty-three percent of active United States district (or trial) court judges are women.
- But there are still 7 district courts around the country where there has never been a female judge.
- For women of color, the numbers are even smaller.
- There are 80 women of color serving as active federal judges across the country, including 42 African-American women, 25 Hispanic women, 10 Asian-American women, one Native American woman, one woman of Hispanic and Asian descent, and one women of Hispanic and African-American descent.
- There are only 11 women of color on the U.S. courts of appeals. Five of those women sit on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, two sit on the DC Circuit, and one woman of color sits on each of the First, Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Circuits. Therefore, there are seven federal courts of appeals without a single active minority woman judge.