Thursday, May 29, 2014

Advancing Women Lawyers, Masterminds not Required

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. 

May 29, 2014 in Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gianmarco Monsellato Thinks "Lean In" and "Diversity Programs" are a Joke

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.  

May 28, 2014 in Equal Employment, Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Empirical Database on Gender Diversity in the Patent Bar

 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.

 

May 22, 2014 in Business, Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are Lawyers Good "Bachelorettes"?

Or conversely, ATL asks Do Bachelor(ette) Contestants Make Bad Lawyers?  Former Wake Forest law student and Atlanta prosescutor Andi Dorfman is the newest The Bachelorette.  Premieres May 19. 

May 15, 2014 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Theorizing Billable Hours

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.

May 13, 2014 in Business, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Ideas: The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women

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.

May 10, 2014 in Books, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gender Bias in the ABA Judicial Rating System

 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.

May 6, 2014 in Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Women Lawyers and Judges Earn 82% of What Men Earn

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.

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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.

April 26, 2014 in Equal Employment, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (1)

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." 

 -BBR

 

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

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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.

And: 

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)