Tuesday, May 5, 2015
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.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
From Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge, Jones on Lynch Nomination
Martha Jones of the University of Michigan's history department and law school has an op-ed at Huffington Post on Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general and the increasing political influence of African American women. Let me use this as an opportunity to mention, as well, the book that Martha has just co-edited, Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women. This obviously builds on Martha's pioneering book on African American women and political ideology in the nineteenth century, All Bound Up Together.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Two deputy district attorneys for Los Angeles County are suing their former supervisor, saying he sexually harassed them and gave out “stale” cases when they rejected him.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tannaz Mokayef and Beth Silverman’s lawsuit says profanity and sexual favors are commonplace in the major crimes division of the DA’s office, which handles some of the highest-profile crimes in the county.
The accusations are against Gary Hearnsberger, then head deputy of the major crimes division. The lawsuit says he repeatedly subjected the two women to unwanted touching, graphic sexual comments and sexual gestures. Silverman alleged Hearnsberger touched her buttocks at least twice, and followed it up once by saying “You know you like it.” Mokayef says Hearnsberger compared her vibrating phone to a sex toy and repeatedly told her she “smells good.”
The women say that when they rejected his advances, they were penalized—not only with “stale cases” given to Mokayef, but also with profanity and screaming directed at her and humiliating public criticism of Silverman. By contrast, they said female attorneys who cooperated were given opportunities for career advancement.
They also accuse Hearnsberger of other crude behavior at work, including jokes about a transgender attorney’s genitals and showing up to a 2012 costume party for those working in the hardcore gangs division wearing a stuffed sheep stapled to the crotch of his overalls. Photos of this costume were Exhibit 3 to the complaint.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Of the 51 Justices appointed to the High Court of Australia, only four have been women. Although all eminently qualified, there is something fundamentally wrong with this statistic. The principle of fair reflection is neither at odds with the fundamental principle of judicial impartiality, nor controversial when it comes to federal balance on the Court. It is time that the untrammelled discretion of the Attorney General is confined to require a 40% composition of either gender on the Court. Doing so would increase the quality of the Court’s decisions, and its sociological legitimacy.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Check out the pics @ WaPo, That time Pelosi, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan Took a Selfie.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
“I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can’t finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again,” saidmajority leader Mitch McConnell on CNN on the delay in Lynch’s confirmation. This delay is the latest in a series of interruptions in the more than four months since Lynch’s nomination, who would make history as the first black woman to serve as the Attorney General.
The trafficking bill in question is the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, sponsored by Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The bipartisan bill had been expected to pass smoothly through Congress, until Democratic party noticed a small provision of the bill that would effectively strengthen the Hyde Amendment, which bans spending federal dollars on abortion.
“This bill will not be used as an opportunity for Republicans to double down on their efforts to restrict a woman’s health-care choices,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). “It is absolutely wrong and, honestly, it is shameful. I know there are a whole lot of us who are going to fight hard against any attempt to expand the Hyde Amendment and permanently impact women’s health.”
Democrats are hopeful that the trafficking bill can be settled and passed quickly, so long as there is Republican support to remove the language limiting abortion access.
“We can finish this bill in 20 minutes,” said Democratic leader Senator Harry Reid. “The only thing that needs to be done is the language relating to abortion should come out of this bill. Abortion and human trafficking have nothing to do with each other.”
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
The percentage of female associates “finally nudged up” in 2014, following four years of slight declines, according to the National Associated for Law Placement.
According to a NALP press release (PDF), 44.94 percent of associates were female in 2014, compared to 44.79 percent in 2013. The 2014 number is still slightly below the ratio in 2009, when 45.66 percent of associates were female.
Also making slight percentage gains were women and minority partners, and minority associates. In 2014, 21.5 percent of partners were women and 7.33 percent were minority, while 21.63 percent of associates were minority.
“It’s good to see the numbers heading in the right direction again,” NALP executive director James Leipold said in the press release.“ The changes are incremental, but across every category that we measure, the national figures show that the representation of women and minorities at law firms increased from 2013 to 2014.”
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Gail Collins, NYT, The Unsinkable RBG
Over the past few years, she’s been getting unprecedented public nagging about retirement while simultaneously developing a massive popular fan base. You can buy T-shirts and coffee mugs with her picture on them. You can dress your baby up like Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Halloween. A blog called Notorious R.B.G. posts everything cool about the justice’s life, from celebrity meet-ups (“Sheryl Crow is a Ruth Bader Ginsburg fangirl”) to Twitter-size legal theory (“Justice Ginsburg Explains Everything You Need to Know About Religious Liberty in Two Sentences”). You can even get an R.B.G. portrait tattooed on your arm, should the inclination ever arise.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Women in Law Leadership: A Bibliography
Taking on new administrative leadership at your law school? Thinking of being a dean? Here are some readings guiding you on this path. Please add your own suggestions in the comments.
ABA, Gindi Eckel Vincent & Mary Bailey Cranston, Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law
Joan Williams & Rachel Dempsey, What Works for Women at Work (NYU Press 2014)
Sheryl Sandburg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Sharyl Sandburg & Adam Grant, Madam CEO, Get Me Coffee, NYT, Feb. 2015.
Deborah Maranville, et al, Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (Table of Contents) (2015)
Martin Katz & Kenneth Margolis, Transforming Legal Education as an Imperative in Today's World: Leadership and Curricular Change
Laura Padilla, A Gendered Update on Women Law Deans: Who, Where, Why, and Why Not?, 15 J. Gender, Soc. Policy & the Law 443 (2007)
ABA, Women in the Profession, Grit and Growth Mindset Program
The Women's Equality Program, Maryland School of Law
2015 Women's Power Summit (Texas)
AALS Women Deans’ Data Bank (discontinued)
Saturday, February 14, 2015
My favorite (and only) TV show. How to Get Away With Murder. Of course you have to suspend reality. I love the classroom scenes with this powerful woman crim law professor at the front.
Why Doesn't Annalise Understand the Constitution? [spoiler alert]
3. Annalise's Fifth Amendment lesson plan is suspicious.
I know the show likes to cut between the case of the week and Annalise teaching in order to sort of demonstrate the practicum of her class (which, again, is better suited to a 3L seminar than a required 1L class, but I digress). But this week's lesson in never ever talking to the police seems pretty heavy-handed.
She shows up late to class, interrupting a lesson that a covering colleague had already begun to announce that she's going off syllabus. Annalise wants to talk about the Fifth Amendment and how suspects in criminal investigations shouldn't talk to police.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Nancy Leong (Denver) interviews Scott Dodson (Hastings) about his new book on Justice Ginsburg on YouTube, TheRightsCast: The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Jan. 27, 2015).
From the abstract:
In Episode 1 of The RightsCast, Professor Scott Dodson discusses his new book, "The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg." The book includes contributions by Nina Totenberg (NPR), Dahlia Lithwick (Slate), Judge Robert Katzmann (Chief Judge, Second Circuit), Tom Goldstein (SCOTUSblog), and a number of prominent legal academics.
View Professor Dodson's faculty homepage here: http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/f...
Professor Dodson's book, "The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," is available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Legacy-Ruth...
Staci Zaretsky, Sexism in the Legal Profession: An Uncomfortable Truth
The truth, however, is that according to the latest report on Women in the Law from the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession, while almost half of all students who graduate from law school are women, they only make up about 34 percent of all practicing attorneys. The truth is that per the National Association of Women Lawyers’ (NAWL) most recent Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, the greatest percentage of women (64 percent) continue to occupy the lowest positions their firms have to offer, while the lowest percentage of women (17 percent) occupy the highest positions in those firms. The truth is that women do leave the profession in droves and thus won't be able to ascend to those leadership positions, but it's not just because they're off having families – according to Suzanne Goldberg of Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, it's because many law firms are hostile to women's work/life balance issues.
The truth is that per NAWL, the vast majority of the largest law firms in the U.S. refuse to report data about the differences between how their male and female lawyers are compensated. The truth is that, thanks to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know that the gender wage gap in the legal profession is an insulting constant, with women lawyers earning just 78.9 percent of their male colleagues’ weekly salaries.
The disheartening truth is that these depressing facts and figures are no exaggeration at all.
If you’re a woman in the legal profession, it’s highly likely that you’ve experienced some form of sexism during the course of your career. For example, women who zealously and aggressively advocate for their clients in court are “bitchy”; men who do the same are “excellent litigators.” It’s often considered a great inconvenience when women in the law take maternity leave; when male lawyers take paternity leave, they’re selflessly sacrificing for their family.
Women in the law aren’t respected as attorneys – their own colleagues disrespect them, ignore them, interrupt them, speak over them, and generally treat them like trash. The sooner women in the legal profession are willing to own the fact that they’re denigrated on a near daily basis and treated like interlopers in an old boys’ club, the sooner they’ll be able to do something about it.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Rutgers-Camden Vice Dean Adam Scales tells students to stop being sexist.
Inside Higher Ed, Brains, Not Clothes
Many female professors complain that students evaluate them in sexist ways based in part on appearance, and data suggests that's true. But few administrators have spoken out against student bias in evaluations, and tend to treat it more as an inevitable if unfortunate part of the process. So a recent mass e-mail to students at Rutgers University School of Law at Camden from Adam Scales, vice dean, stands out.
“Throughout my academic career, I’ve displayed an array of sartorial styles. For years, I veered sharply between ‘Impoverished Graduate Student' and ‘British Diplomat,’” Scales wrote. “Of course, one would never know any of this by reading my student evaluations. That’s because I’m a man.”
Scales goes on to explain that an unnamed student has explored, “in some detail, the fashion stylings of one of your professors,” and that that professor is a woman.
He continues: “Women are frequently targets of evaluative commentary that, in addition to being wildly inappropriate and adolescent, is almost never directed at men. Believe me, I am about the last person on this faculty for whom the ‘sexism’ label falls readily to hand, but after a lifetime of hearing these stories, I know it when I see it. Anyone who doubts this would find it instructive to stop by and ask any one of our female professors about this and similar dynamics.”
Yes, nearly all women in the legal profession, including law school professors, have found themselves the victims of “wildly inappropriate and adolescent” commentary about their style of dress. And yet, in recent memory, Vice Dean Scales is the only member of legal academia to defend his female colleagues from these unwarranted attacks. Why aren’t more law school deans speaking out against sexism in the legal profession? [Emphasis added]. If you’re a dean, the next time you’re considering prattling on about the value of a law degree, perhaps you ought to dedicate some time to figuring out how to improve the state of this profession for women, who represent nearly half of all law school graduates, and who make up about 34 percent of all practicing lawyers.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
From the Legal History Blog: More on Women Trailblazers in the Law
We’ve previously posted on Women Trailblazers in the Law, an oral history project now sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Senior Lawyers Division. I am now pleased to report that two essays relating to that project are now available for free download. They are Memorializing the Work and Lives of Women Trailblazers in the Law, by Brooksley Born and Linda Ferren, and The Rules of Engagement: How Women Attorneys Broke Law’s Glass Ceiling, by Jill Norgren. Both appeared in the ABA’s Senior Lawyers Division’s publication, Voice of Experience.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Saturday, January 10, 2015