Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Closer Look at Women Professors' (Lack of) "Success"

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."

April 22, 2014 in Law schools, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Judge's Remarks about Women Lawyers - Sexist or Critique of Sexism?

From the ABA Journal, Judge Reprimanded for Comment About Proliferation of Women Lawyers: was He Misunderstood?

[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.


April 12, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Judge's Faux Apologies for Sexist Blog

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 TimesThe 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." 



April 5, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Federal Judge's Shocking View of How Women Lawyers Should Dress

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.”

March 27, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Interview with Anita Hill

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.

March 22, 2014 in Law schools, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Not to Wear

From Slate, Female Lawyers who Dress "Too Sexy" are Apparently a Hugh Problem in the Courtroom.

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. 

March 22, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

College Women Buying into Soft War on Women

Young Women and Stubborn Stereotypes

Despite the popular notion that the sky's the limit for smart, ambitious females, new research finds that many college women doubt their ability to achieve.
Many are more pessimistic than young women in the past about having a significant career and a personal life. Just as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is telling women to "lean in" to their careers, they are wondering if this is possible.
A recent study of undergraduates at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania finds that "young women's hopes for and expectations of equitable sharing on the work and home fronts are on the wane." Management professor Stewart D. Friedman reports that "young women today believe that something has to give, even if that means adopting more traditional roles at points along life's journey."

February 27, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Susan Apel's Narrative


Prof. Susan Apel of Vermont Law School, who has guest blogged on this site, has penned a poignant narrative.  Part of it reads: 

I have been waiting some time to comment on my choice to be childless.  Threats of the draft and leaving for Canada are relics of the Vietnam War era of over 40 years ago.  That makes me a woman of a certain age and on the cusp of retirement.


It seems appropriate to comment on my life choices at this point because I have lived with those choices for some decades.  It situates me, with some authority that only years can bestow, to weigh in on the question of choosing, or not choosing, motherhood.

The rest can be read here

February 26, 2014 in Family, Susan Apel, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

BigLaw is Failing Women Lawyers

From the Washington Post: Large Law Firms are Failing Women Lawyers:

For a profession whose guiding tenets include equity in treatment and the elimination of bias, law is failing its women.

As an adviser to corporate women’s networks, I am hard pressed to name an industry that simultaneously has more progressive policies and yet more of an old-school culture than the large law firm environment does. You can draft as many pro-employee policies as you like, but unless women are co-creators in the firm’s strategy, they will not shape the culture. Women must hold positions―I’d argue half of them―on the influential, high-ranking committees that make everyday decisions.

February 20, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Still the Old Boys Network in Selecting ADR Neutrals

Andrea and  have posted ....  Their conclusions:

1.  First, the type and subject matter of the dispute clearly impacts neutral selection. As detailed in the paper, certain practice areas are far more male and certain others are quite female.

2.   Second, it appears to matter how the neutral is selected in mediation. Networking resulted in only 29% women while provider lists resulted in an increased percentage of 47%.

3.   Finally, arbitration and mediation are not the same for gender integration. Arbitration seems to hold steady at 20% regardless of selection process and even decreases further in panel arbitrations.

February 17, 2014 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Sistren

From the NY Times: Kagan Says Her Path to Supreme Court Was Made Smoother by Ginsburg's

They share New York City roots, a liberal outlook and a personal trainer. But a gap separates Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, one they explored during an often lighthearted joint appearance last week at the New York City Bar Association.

Justice Ginsburg, 80, is the oldest member of the Supreme Court, and she came of age when many legal careers were closed to women. Justice Kagan, 53, is the court’s youngest member, and she seemed to have little trouble compiling a glittering résumé. She was the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female United States solicitor general.

“What explains this gulf between Justice Ginsburg’s experience and mine?” Justice Kagan asked. “In large part the answer is simply Justice Ginsburg. As a litigator and then as a judge she changed the face of American antidiscrimination law.”

February 13, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

After the JD Women Lawyers Face Gender Disparity at Work

From the ABA Journal, Twenty-four percent of JDs who Passed the Bar in 2000 Aren't Practicing Law.  But the real headline should be the demonstrated gender disparity.

Women fared more poorly then men in terms of pay and law-firm advancement, according to the preliminary results. Women working full-time earned 80 percent of the pay reported by their male counterparts. The difference was most pronounced among law grads who were working in business and not practicing law; women working full-time in that sector earned only 67 percent of the pay of their male counterparts.

February 11, 2014 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Still the Old Boys Network in Selecting ADR Neutrals

From the ADR Prof Blog:  Andrea Schneider (Marquette) and Gina Brown have posted Gender Differences in Dispute Resolution Practice: Reports on the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Practice Snapshot Survey, reporting their results from  study conducted for the ABA.   Their conclusions:

1.  First, the type and subject matter of the dispute clearly impacts neutral selection. As detailed in the paper, certain practice areas are far more male and certain others are quite female.


2.   Second, it appears to matter how the neutral is selected in mediation. Networking resulted in only 29% women while provider lists resulted in an increased percentage of 47%.


3.   Finally, arbitration and mediation are not the same for gender integration. Arbitration seems to hold steady at 20% regardless of selection process and even decreases further in panel arbitrations.


February 4, 2014 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Harvard Law Review Essays on Justice Ginsburg

Essays in Honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


To honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s twenty years of service on the United States Supreme Court so far, Harvard Law School planned a celebration and many individual faculty members wrote reflections on some of her opinions. Those reflections are assembled here along with our community’s heartfelt admiration and appreciation. Very few individuals in history come close to the extraordinary and significant role played by Justice Ginsburg in the pursuit of justice before she joined the bench. Her work earned her a faculty post at Rutgers School of Law and then the first tenured post for a female professor at Columbia Law School. As director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, she argued six landmark cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court and crafted successful challenges to the system of legally enforced gender roles that limited opportunities for both women and men. With vision and brilliance, she earned a place in the history books and on the honor roll of civil rights heroes. 

Both as judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, she has produced a body of superbly crafted opinions and nurtured a quality of collegiality that represents an equally significant contribution to the administration of justice. And there is more to come. 

It is a special privilege and honor for me, as the second woman to serve as Dean, to salute Justice Ginsburg at Harvard Law School. When she was a student here, she faced a class of over 500 men and only seven other women. She juggled her roles as a wife and mother with her work as a law student and faced a Dean who chided female students for taking the places of qualified males. She excelled. She joined the Harvard Law Review. When her husband, fellow law student Martin Ginsburg, had to deal with cancer, she took notes for him and helped him recover. And when the Harvard Dean refused her request to earn her degree while moving to New York with her family and completing her final year of schooling at Columbia Law School, she transferred there and promptly rose to the top of the class. She gently but rightly resisted the requests of later Harvard Law School Deans to accept a tardy degree from Harvard Law School but finally, in 2011, received a Harvard degree — an honorary doctorate, the university’s highest academic honor. It is with joy that we offer these reflections on some of her judicial work. 

~ Martha Minow 

127 Harv. L. Rev. 423 (2013) | DOWNLOAD PDF | WESTLAW 

February 1, 2014 in Theory, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Williams on Playing the Femininity Card at Work

Joan Williams (Hastings) previews her new book, What Works for Women at Work in the Washington Post.

I'm always a big fan of Williams' work.  But I'm not thrilled with what she finds here.  Frankly, it's a pretty depressing view of the work world.  She finds that women still have to play the femininity card in order to be successful in the work place.  Her research suggest that women need to soft sell their ideas and leadership in a "feminine" nurturing kind of gentle way rather than be critical or assertive.   Or in another post, the suggestion is that women need to strike a power pose like Beyonce or Wonder Woman (seriously ? with or withou bustier?).  When can women just be normal?  That would be a revolution. 

January 28, 2014 in Books, Business, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ms JD Announces Column on Women at SCOTUS

The Ms. JD blog announces a new column for 2014 tracking the role of women in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The focus of this column throughout 2014 will be to highlight the women of the United States Supreme Court: the practioners, the parties, the justices. It will also highlight specific cases that will be argued and decided by the United States Supreme Court this term that relate to issues specifically important to women....


In the last United States Supreme Court term (beginning in October 2012 and ending in June 2013) the Court issued 73 written merit opinions, 25 of those were authored by female justices. Justice Ginsburg wrote the most majority opinions of any of the justices, authoring a total of 9 majority opinions.... 


Six women argued three different times in front of the Court this session. Lisa S. Blatt is the only private counsel to make the list, while five female counsel represented the Solicitor General’s Office, including Ginger D. Anders, Sarah E. Harrington, Ann O’Connell, Nicole A. Saharsky and Melissa A. Sherry. 

January 14, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Re-entry Programs for Women Returning to Work

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog reports on an interesting new fellowship program with BigLaw designed to help women who take a few years off for family work to re-enter the practice of law.

The program is OnRamp Fellowship.

Another resource is American University's Lawyer Re-entry certificate program. 


January 14, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Revisiting the Revolution in the Gender Composition of the Legal Profession

Carroll Seron (Irvine) has posted Afterward: A Comparative Look at the Status of Women in the Legal Profession, 20 Ind. J.of Global Legal Studies(2013)

Today, young girls in many nations of the world may decide on a career in law in the same matter-of-fact manner as their grandmothers decided to become a teacher, social worker, nurse, or librarian. Sociologists Cynthia Fuchs Epstein and Abigail Kolker remind us that today we also take for granted that women may sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, serve as Secretary of State, or hold leadership positions in some of the most powerful law firms in the country — and even in the world. Rereading Epstein’s Women in Law, published in 1981, reminds us, however, that what we today take for granted in fact represents a revolution in the gender composition of law (and other professions) in what is actually a remarkably short span of time. During the first wave of the Women’s Movement, which coincided with the Progressive Era in the United States, a few pioneering women battled for the opportunity to be admitted to the practice of law; the challenges were many and the proportion of women who joined the ranks of legal practice remained miniscule through the early 1960s. In the wake of the Civil Rights Movement and the second wave of the U.S. Women’s Movement in the 1960s that picture began to change. Today, the gender composition of legal education hovers at parity across the hierarchy of U.S. law schools; women represent about 32 percent of practitioners in the United States, though “the United States lags far behind many other countries.” The articles in this IJGLS issue both shed light on the feminization of legal practice from a global perspective and provide snapshots of how feminization unfolds in various nations, often highlighting the challenges that remain to be addressed.

January 7, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mom Firms

In another top article from last year, Ms. JD's, In Praise of Mom Firms.

Mom Firms, small/solo law practices consisting of accomplished female Biglaw refugees, can offer corporate/insurance clients greater efficiency, more control over file management, and superior attorney quality at more reasonable rates.  The Mom Firm “lean and green” business model also stands as the antidote for well-known Biglaw billing abuses.

Mom firms are:

  • technologically sophisticated
  • make good money at reasonable rates
  • have lower billable hours
  • are administratively agile
  • focus on client relationships

January 4, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Underestimating Justice Sotomayor

MSNBC explores How Sotomayor Undermined Obama's NSA as the lone dissent that understood the changing dynamics of privacy in this day and age.  But the greater message is more profound: that her gravitas was underestimated because of her gender and race.

Adam Winkler (UCLA) says, “Justice Sotomayor has been underestimated at every stage of her life.” “Sotomayor was underestimated in part because she was the first Latina, it was easy to say she didn’t have the skills and she was an affirmative action baby, but it was an absurd claim then and it’s now being shown to be absurd.”

Larry Tribe (Harvard) says, “I greatly underestimated how powerful a jurist Justice Sotomayor would be. From the start, she has been an enormously impressive justice, making a major impact in cases like Jones, among many others,” Tribe wrote in an email. “I now regard her as a major force on the Court – someone who is likely to make a historic contribution – and I have no doubt that I was totally wrong in my initial expressions of doubt.”

December 26, 2013 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)