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Practice Points

August 1, 2016

Six Tips to Stay Connected to Your Professional Network

In a recent Glasshammer.com article, author Zoe Anderson sets forth six practical tips to help busy professionals maintain a strong professional network:


  1. 1. Ensure that your contact information is readily accessible to maintain relationships with former colleagues and foster relationships with “key players.”
  2. 2. Rethink relationships with networking acquaintances who do not necessarily improve your prospects. Do this in an effort to prioritize relationships with influential people who can provide professional assistance.
  3. 3. Utilize social media to post relevant material and be sure to retweet, like and share your professional contact's posts—this will ensure that you stay fresh in their minds.
  4. 4. Maintain your online presence to “build a reputation as an industry leader and a voice of authority.”
  5. 5. Show that you are an excellent resource by referring customers and clients to individuals in your professional circles. Your contacts will reward you when the time is right. 
  6. 6. Calendar bimonthly events to advance existing relationships and develop new connections.  


Anderson suggests that by cultivating a strong professional network, busy professionals will remain apprised of upcoming career opportunities without too much hard work.


D’Anna Harper, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


June 13, 2016

More Women in the Judiciary Means Justice for All

Jay Newton-Small’s article published in the National Law Journal entitled “More Women in the Judiciary Means Justice for All” discusses how “when females compose even just 20 to 30 percent of courts, changes are dramatic.” The article focuses on the sociological theory that when women reach between 20 and 30 percent of a body, whether it's a legislature, a court, or a corporate board, “they begin to really have an impact.”


Newton-Small describes how in 1995, Linda Morrissey—then a new county judge in Tulsa—quickly learned that unpaid child support often sparked domestic violence cases. Judge Morrissey, herself a mother of three small children, created a "rocket docket" for child support cases, to speed resolution and reduce domestic violence. If a defendant failed to pay after arraignment, Morrissey would bring the case to trial within 30 days, "even if I had to stay to midnight to see it done." The court generated $1 million in child support payments in the first year, paid on average in 32 days. The docket is still one of the most effective in the county.


The numbers of women on the bench have dramatically increased over the last 30 years. When the National Association of Women Judges was formed in 1979, it had 100 members. Today, it has more than 1,250 members, and women hold one third of the spots on the United States Supreme Court.


Newton-Small describes a 2005 study published in the Yale Law Journal which “found that not only were female judges significantly more likely than male judges to rule for plaintiffs in cases of sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but the presence of female judges on court panels significantly increased the likelihood that a male judge would rule for the plaintiffs in such cases.”


Newton-Small points out that the public section is ahead of the private sector with regard to women beginning to reach critical mass in the judiciary and argues that “[g]iven how much women have achieved in the judiciary, one can only imagine what achieving critical mass at law firms might bring.”


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career, gender parity, law firms, women, female judges


Tiffany deGruy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Birmingham, AL


May 16, 2016

"What Happens At Law Firms When Women Take Charge"

In the Law 360 Article entitled “What Happens At Law Firms When Women Take Charge,” author Jacqueline Bell explains how law firms that have achieved gender parity are “reaping the rewards of leadership diversity, attracting valuable lateral talent and clients and boosting their bottom lines.”


Bell explains how in a recent survey of more than 300 law firms, only 19 percent of equity partners were women. However, when a law firm or any other employer makes a commitment to diversity, one clear business benefit is access to a larger pool of talent. One important aspect of growing the number of quality women in a law firm is to develop a reputation in the community as being a great place for women to work. Over time, women will be drawn to your law firm based on the good working environment reputation. Also, “when significant numbers of women are in leadership roles at law firms, they can also help to ensure that policies are in place that help cut down on attrition and help firms hold onto top female talent.” However, Bell cautions that female attorneys do not stay where they are not valued, and in law firms, value is demonstrated primarily through compensation. Thus, it is essential that firms achieve fairness in compensation between genders.


Additionally, as a 2012 study found, companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity. The same is said to be true of law firms. Why? Diversity at the highest ranks of a company can broaden its perspective, increase creativity and improve results.


Finally, Bell argues that greater diversity creates a strong law firm culture and that “firms with a dynamic and diverse culture are likely to have attorneys who are strong ambassadors for the firm and who are great at wooing top talent and top clients.”


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career, gender parity, law firms, women


Tiffany deGruy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Birmingham, AL


May 11, 2016

Wall Street Firms Among the Toughest for Female Partners

As recently reported by Law360, female partners comprise only 3.9 percent (or 335) of the 8,549 attorneys practicing at Wall Street firms, as opposed to male partners who comprise 17.1 percent (or 1,463) of the attorneys within the same demographic. The Law360 study, which surveyed over 300 U.S. firms about their overall and female headcount numbers as of Dec. 31, 2015, revealed that the percentage of female partners at Walls Street firms is well below the average in law firms generally, which have a 22 percent female partnership.


Of the Wall Street firms surveyed, which included firms such as Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP., Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, Cahill Gordon, Cleary Gottleib, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP, and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Cadwalader, Fried Frank and Kramer Levin had some of the lowest percentages of female partners among their ranks, at 14.8 percent, 14.7 percent and 12.4 percent respectively, with Simpson Thacher, Hughes Hubbard and Paul Weiss ranked among the highest, at 20.1 percent, nearly 23 percent and 24.2 percent respectively.


The article further addressed the challenges female attorneys have faced in “defying the odds” and overcoming both “gender-related and gender-neutral obstacles” in order to achieve partnership status at one of these firms. These challenges include:


  • the lack of female partners whom they can use as role models and/or to draw from to hone their own style;
  • being one of the few, if not the only, female attorney in the courtroom—and as a result, being ignored or otherwise not given the opportunity to speak; and,
  • being been misjudged and/or underestimated at the outset because of their gender, including being mistaken for a court reporter or a secretary.


Law360 interviewed several high level female partners at Wall Street firms who had various suggestions for how to overcome these challenges. A female partner in the male dominated field of intellectual property at Kramer Levin suggests that rather than dwell on the inequities and let these situations slow you down, to use them as opportunities to take control of a situation and command the room’s attention.


A female partner from Stroock and Levin who represents banks in complex consumer class actions, agrees that in situations where you are misjudged or simply ignored by your predominantly male counterparts, it is important to speak up for yourself and showcase your talent, but also suggests to “laugh about it then move on to prevent [such scenarios] from defining your career….”


In addition to taking control of male-dominated situations and moving beyond gender bias, the female partners interviewed also discussed the importance of networking, an area where women are not always the most proactive. The failure to network, explains a high-level female partner at Shearman & Sterling who specializes in derivatives and structured products, is a “potentially lethal mistake for any person’s legal career, regardless of gender.” This partner further opined that young attorneys need to understand that hard work, while both commendable and necessary for career advancement, is simply not enough. Women should embrace networking with the understanding that it is not about sales, but about building relationships with people and clients, the focus being on helping them achieve their goals.


A female partner at Stroock and Levin’s complex insurance and reinsurance group suggests that another way to earn a promotion to partner is to simply ask for it, e.g., clearly state your desire for a more senior position to a mentor or firm management. In other words, regardless of your gender, never forget to be your own advocate.


Finally, a female partner at Debevoise & Plimpton’s business restructuring and workouts group reminds other female partners that, regardless of how you “made it,” it is important to assist the next generation to make the same strides by, for example, starting or getting involved with women’s initiatives within your firm. In fact, the initiative at Debevoise has resulted in a 40 percent increase over the last eight years in partner promotions to women—an achievement that this Debevoise partner called “extraordinary.”


Angela A. Turiano, Esq., Bressler Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


April 5, 2016

The Case for Women's Leadership

On March 21, 2016, an article entitled “Why Men Must Advance Women’s Leadership” appeared in NJBIZ, by guest columnist Barry Ostrowsky, CEO and President of Barnabas Health. Recognizing that women make up a fraction of leadership positions at publicly traded companies, yet half of the full-time workers, Mr. Ostrowsky argues that men must play a part in “ensuring equal access to leadership for women.”


Perception vs. Reality
In answering the question as to why there are not more women leaders, the article points to the perception that there are not enough qualified women to assume executive leadership roles. In reality, it is a simple lack of exposure to those exceptional women that causes women to be underrepresented in positions of power. As stated by Mr. Ostrowsky, the “reality is that most board seats are still filled through informal contacts made through the ‘old boys’ network,” and that the discussions of board membership happen “exclusively in male spaces, like the men’s locker room after golf.” Women do not have a similar opportunity to make their case. According to a report by Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ), the “traditional pipeline” for filling of board seats is from a pool of retired CEOs or senior business executives, which perpetuates the existing problem. This in turn is enforced by the lack of turnover by board directors, limiting the number of available board seats.


Why Should Men Assist?
While women are capable advocates for themselves, the reach of their influence is sometimes stymied by barriers that exist outside of their control. Thus, by advocating for women in exclusively male dominated spaces, men would succeed in leveling the playing field. The end result, as proposed by Mr. Ostrowsky, goes beyond just diversity for the good of society, to diversity for the good of the company. Indeed, research has shown that companies that have boards with higher numbers of women deliver better returns on equity, sales and capital. Simply put, diversity makes good business sense.


Bold Action
Mr. Ostrowsky calls on his fellow CEOs to pledge to adhere to the recommendations for increasing gender diversity in the EWNJ report, “A Seat at the Table: Celebrating Women and Board Leadership.” Those recommendations include the following:


  • Commiting to include at least one woman on every slate
  • Appointing internal advocates to establish a formal pathway for women to senior leadership
  • Utilizing professional search firms to create diverse pools of candidates to fill board seats
  • Conducting an inventory of the skill sets of the existing board members to pin point gaps in knowledge, and look to tap executives with experience in a breadth of fields such as global branding, human resources, risk assessment, and social media
  • Identifying senior and mid-level women within their own companies who have potential to serve as directors.


Mr. Ostrowsky asks his fellow CEOs to further commit to applying these recommendations to increase both racial and gender diversity. And not simply because it is the “right thing to do” from a social standpoint. Mr. Ostrowsky opines that diverse boards outperform their industry median by 35 percent and are crucial to the long-term success of a corporation. Ultimately, creating and establishing inclusionary practices benefits an organizations future, social awareness, and financial growth.


The article concludes by noting that on May 5, 2016, the EWNJ will recognize companies that succeed in implementing pathways for progress in these areas at the Salute to the Policy Makers Gala, for which Mr. Ostrowsky will serve as the honorary chair.


Kathryn B. Rockwood, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., Florham Park, NJ


March 31, 2016

Video—"Make It About the New Client"

A business development video with Beatrice O'Donnell. When you go out to gain new business, it’s not about you. It’s about them. When networking, ask open ended questions and listen to the answers. Find out what the needs of the potential client are, and find out what you can offer to make a client’s life better. (1:44 min)


Beatrice O'Donnell, Duane Morris LLP, Philadelphia, PA


March 23, 2016

4 Ways Female Attorneys Can Grow Their Careers

As reported by Law360, Ms. JD recently held its eighth annual conference on women in the law wherein a panel of experts (Panel), comprised of both in-house counsel and attorneys in private practice, discussed four strategic moves that young female attorneys should make to successfully develop and advance their careers. The Panel’s advice can be summarized as follows.

1. Choose Mentors and Sponsors Wisely
While mentors are important and can play critical roles in young attorneys’ lives, many women do not understand how to find appropriate mentors, or that they can be found within or close to your peer group, e.g., law school classmates or attorneys with whom you started your career. The Panel suggests utilizing these peer mentors to bounce ideas off of and for general problem-solving, keeping in mind that you should avoid going to a higher level mentor—whose time is in higher demand—until you have first vetted the issue(s) and attempted to solve the problem with the help of a peer-level mentor on your own.

The Panel also notes the difference between mentors and sponsors, the latter being someone to whom you go for advice, and the former being someone who can help “pull you up the ranks.” With a sponsor, aim for someone who has the “pulling power,” and try to become their “go-to person,” ensuring that you can consistently perform well for that person. The Panel adds that if you are too junior to have access to that power person, try to form relationships with their “lieutenants” or the senior associates who work closely with your target sponsor.


2. Always Look to Add Value
Whether in-house counsel or at a law firm, the Panel cited the ability to add value to your team as a key factor to success as an attorney. The way to add value in this regard is to take on tasks, add new insights, and make sure that your superiors have all relevant information that will enable them to complete the task at hand.

To that end, the Panel suggests to first determine the structure of your team, then identify which team member with which you have the most interaction and what their needs are, and finally, anticipate and provide for those needs. The Panel further notes that no matter what level of your career, it is always important to add value, and this should remain a constant as you move up in the ranks.

3. Own Your Work … and Your Mistakes
Essentially, the Panel urges junior lawyers to approach each and every task, no matter how small, with vigor and enthusiasm, focusing on being as detailed as possible. Further, do more than just complete the task at hand. Rather, try to think outside the box by taking initiative and anticipating the needs of the senior lawyer. For example, if you’re given a task to review documents, go beyond a simple review and draft bullet points on what you found in those documents, demonstrating how you are “thinking about the big picture of the case.” Upon completion of the task, always inquire as to next steps, making sure supervisors are aware that you want to stay involved and assist in moving the matter along.


The Panel also warns against attempting to hide mistakes. Quite simply, mistakes are going to happen. When they do, the Panel advises to communicate, own up to, and apologize for these mistakes. Indeed, almost every mistake can be fixed. Prior to going to a superior, however, make sure you have looked into a potential solution to the problem so that you can “offer a fix to the issue.”


Finally, avoid over-apologizing, especially for minor errors, something many female attorneys have a tendency to do. Excessive apologizing can create the incorrect perception that you are more at fault for the mistake than you actually are.

4. Be Creative About Work-Life Balance
The Panel maintains that the key to a work-life balance is to prioritize and make continual adjustments to ensure those priorities are being met. There is no need to choose one over the other. In sustaining this balance, the Panel advises, keep in mind that everything is cyclical—there will be times in your life when the balance tips in favor of work over your personal life and vice versa. Accordingly, do not overstress during a busy work cycle, and likewise, take advantage of times when your work-life slows down by increasing social activities.


Regardless of which cycle you are in, the Panel recommends taking time off and scheduling vacations because if “you don’t schedule that vacation, it won’t happen.”


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, female attorneys, career growth, tips


Angela A. Turiano, Esq., Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


February 23, 2016

Navigating Self-Promotion: An Art Worth Investing In

The art of self-promotion was praised as an essential tool for career advancement in a recent article by Nneka Orji for the Glasshammer. In this regard, studies show that self-promoters experience faster career progression and associated compensation growth than their peers. One such study noted by the article was a 2011 report by Catalyst, (a nonprofit organization with a stated mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion), which found that by “making achievements visible” through, for example, seeking credit for your work, requesting additional performance feedback, and asking to be considered for promotions when deserved, both men and women (although less so for women) saw positive gains in their career progression. While Orji concedes that self-promotion can generally be less effective for women than men, it is still an art worth investing in.


Orji notes that in some cultures, self-promotion is discouraged and differentiation is based on hard work alone, while in other cultures, such as America, it is culturally very acceptable, and standing out from the crowd requires proactively seeking recognition. Faced with this reality, women must embrace these benefits and begin to develop a self-promotion skillset. Thus, “global dexterity,” or the ability to grasp how self-promotion is viewed in your cultural setting and adapt your behavior accordingly, is extremely important. A mastery of this skillset can help prevent an employee from becoming an “invisible,” or being known for hard work and potential but lacking the motivation to stand in the spotlight and embrace recognition.


Orji recognizes that self-promotion can be difficult and that many women choose to avoid the proverbial “spotlight” for a variety of reasons. Some women prefer to keep their heads down and focus on their work, while others hesitate to invest themselves in tactics they perceive as “offensive.” Orji explains that there is a fine line between self-promotion and constant bragging or narcissism (which, according to a study by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, is more prevalent now (25 percent) compared to 1982 (15 percent)), which will not have the intended impact.


To be successful at self-promotion and achieve the desired outcome, Orji recommends focusing efforts on the following five steps to ensure that your contributions are acknowledged and credit is given where due:


  1. 1. Confirm your specific objective and think about why you need to promote yourself. An example might be to highlight specific achievements ahead of your performance management reviews, so you are fairly recognized during appraisals.

  2. 2. Be selective about the recipients of your spiel. Detailing your strong performance with your peers will not have the same effect as doing so with your manager—not everyone needs to know.

  3. 3. Take an objective and fact-based approach in telling your story. “The client highlighted that the way I led the delivery was critical to the project’s success” might be easier than “I led a very successful project.”

  4. 4. Always remember your team and acknowledge contributions from others. Self-promotion should never result in alienating your peers.

  5. 5. Say “thank you.” Express appreciation and confidently accept credit for your work in a way that is both gracious and humble.


Ultimately, Orji urges women to embrace some level of self-promotion today—because “if you don’t do it, no one else can (or will) do it on your behalf.”


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, self-promotion, career advancement, Nneka Orji


Diana E. Mahoney, Kaye Scholer, LLP, New York, NY


February 20, 2016

The Connection Between Female Leadership and Corporate Financial Results

The New York Times recently reported on a study of nearly 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries showing that women in company leadership lead to stronger profits. The study (Study), published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a nonprofit group based in Washington, and EY, the audit firm formerly known as Ernst & Young, found that despite the apparent economic benefits, many corporations are still lacking in gender diversity. For example, almost 60 percent of the companies reviewed had no female board members, more than 50 percent had no female executives, and just under 5 percent had a female chief executive.


The Study revealed that the highest correlation with increased profits was in companies with women in top management positions, as opposed to companies with a female as the chief executive (showing that female CEOs did not significantly underperform or over-perform when compared with their male counterparts) or those with increased female board membership (showing some, but not a significant increase). In fact, the data suggested that an increase in the amount of women in top management positions from 0 to 30 percent could be associated with as much as a 15 percent rise in overall profitability.


The results of the Study further suggested that more needs to be done to foster a “management pipeline of women” by, for example, the early development of mathematical and other relevant skills in school-aged girls. The more women in business at the entry-level, explains the Director of the Petersen Institute, the increased chance that more will make it to the very top level.


The Study did not find any evidence that “quotas” for women in executive positions (like in certain European countries like Norway, Denmark, and Finland) are having any substantial influence on bottom lines. Ultimately, the Study suggests that instituting supportive policies involving education, childcare (flexible schedules), and against harassment and discrimination would have a greater impact on achieving gender diversity and allow more women to “make it to the very top.”


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, corporation, gender diversity, corporate leadership


Emily J. Bordens, Bressler, Amery & Ross P.C., Florham Park, NJ


February 19, 2016

For More Resources on the 2015 Federal Rules Amendments

Visit the ABA's Rules Amendments Roadshow page. Register here for upcoming Roadshow events jointly presented by the ABA Section of Litigation and the Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies in:

Phoenix (March 3)

Denver (March 4)

Dallas (March 31)

Miami (April 1)

Margaret I. Lyle, Jones Day, Dallas, TX


February 2, 2016

Tips for Getting Origination Credit, from an Expert

In her essay “Origination credit—Getting credit where credit is due,” Marianne Trost finds that while women in private practice are succeeding at obtaining business and generating work, they are still having a difficult time getting credit for their efforts and successes. She argues that getting origination credit, in addition to generating your own business, is important for creating self-determination in private practice.

The article states that origination credit is a measure of an attorney’s “added value” to the firm, in addition to an attorney’s talents and billable hours. Origination credit is one way that the firm measures and tracks the additional contributions that attorneys make to the economic success of the firm. Generally speaking, origination credit has a positive impact on compensation, the ability to achieve leadership positions in the firm and the opportunities for achieving equity partnership.

Trost suggests that women can ensure that they get the credit they are due by taking steps early on. She recommends becoming more familiar with your firm’s origination credit policies, understanding how the policy works and being aware of how the policy is applied. She also suggests that it is important to begin documenting your efforts and statistics early, even if you’re an associate at a firm that does not award origination credit to associates. Trost emphasizes that laying the groundwork early by starting a conversation about origination credit will significantly increase your chances of getting your fair share when the time comes. In connection with starting the conversation early, Trost suggests speaking up and letting people know about the role you have played in originations. To facilitate the success of those discussions, she recommends engaging in negotiations where appropriate and using facts and figures to back up your claim. If you find that the discussion has gone off track or the discussion is becoming difficult to manage, she suggests referring back to the originations credit policy and seeking the support or advice of a more senior attorney.

Finally, Trost lists ways in which women can help their firm develop or refine originations policies and practices that are more equitable. She suggests that challenging a policy that has been place for a long time or that is integrated in the culture of the firm can be difficult to change on your own. Trost recommends approaching firm management as a group of attorneys. She also suggests that placing more women on the compensation committee can have a net positive impact for both women’s compensation in general and originations credit policies specifically. Lastly she recommends encouraging your firm to identify an ombudsmen to resolve origination credit disputes.

Trost closes by stating that as a result of “closing the origination gap” women will be able to obtain greater power, leverage, and influence that can be used to narrow the compensation gap, access equity partnership, and attain leadership positions in their firm.

Kristen Birdsall, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Washington, D.C.


February 2, 2016

An Increase in Acceptance of Gender Role Reversals, but Still Some Work to Do

In her article “Gender Reversals Gain Acceptance,” originally posted in The American Lawyer, columnist and blogger Vivia Chen compares December 2015 gender role research conducted by Kathleen Gerson of New York University and Jerry Jacobs of the University of Pennsylvania with prior research on the roles of men and women in the workplace and at home. Based on the 2015 study, Chen gleefully comes to the conclusion that “traditional gender roles are breaking down”; however, she stresses that attitudes about the “proper role” of women still have not caught up with the reality of the world today.

While gender reversals seem to be gaining acceptance with the vast majority of women (70 percent) working outside the home and catching up to men in earnings, Chen also points out that “class and economics” play into attitudes about the proper role of women. While Americans expect single mothers to work, almost 50 percent of Americans still disapprove of women who don’t necessarily “need” the money pursuing a career, especially if children are in the picture.

Chen suggests that while progress is being made, attitudes about American women in the workforce still have some shifting to do.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career, business development, professional development, law firms, women

Sarah B. Daugherty, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Nashville, TN


January 28, 2016

Marketing Tips for Young Women Attorneys: Your Partners and Colleagues Are Clients, Too

Often, the “go-to” associates within a firm receive plum assignments, advanced responsibilities, and opportunities for client relationships and external marketing that are not available to others in their peer group. Yet, cultivating a “go-to” reputation can be challenging for young attorneys whose plates already are full, often both at home and at the office, and who must be discriminating about the opportunities they seek and the responsibilities they take on.

The article entitled “Marketing Tips for Young Women Attorneys: Your Partners and Colleagues Are Clients, Too,” authored by Bradley Arant Boult Cummings lawyers Anna M. Manasco and Tiffany deGruy, offers practical tips for making the most of your investment in your reputation and establishing yourself as a “go-to” associate.  The advice is generally applicable to more senior lawyers as well.

Examples include how to form mentoring relationships with partners, treating partners—and their expectations—like clients, investing in peer relationships and networks within the firm, volunteering for leadership roles within the firm, building a reliable personal and professional support system, and keeping on your game face.

If these ideas sounds foreign to you, consider what you would say to a friend who has just participated in a successful trial or motion hearing, or who has just received word of the success of a long-fought briefing battle. No doubt, you would praise his or her skill and contribution to the successful result. The same should be true when reflecting on your own work product. Stepping back and taking a realistic view of your accomplishments as a lawyer is likely to garner confidence, which is well deserved and important to moving your practice forward.

Cultivating an exceptional reputation as a young lawyer is challenging, but perhaps not as much as it might seem at first glance. Many of these tips boil down to an email or phone call, or deliberate leveraging of work already well done or relationships already begun. Although it can be hard to find the time to get more deeply involved and take on more responsibility, being purposeful about how you spend your time and considering the suggestions above may ensure that you make the most of your investments in your reputation and put you well on your way to becoming a go-to associate.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career, business development, professional development, networking, young lawyers, marketing, law firms, women

Tiffany deGruy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL


January 20, 2016

California Court Sanctions Lawyer for Unethical Remarks

The lawyer who chastised a colleague with "Don't raise your voice to me. It's not becoming of a woman" was sanctioned for making the remark at a deposition (along with other unethical conduct during discovery). The court cites to ABA Commission on Women’s First Chair Study in finding that "comments like this reflect and reinforce the male-dominated attitude of [the legal] profession."


Angela Turiano, Bressler, Amery Ross, New York, NY


January 19, 2016

The Importance of Mentor Relationships

Michelle Silverthorn, the diversity and education director at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, recently wrote an article, “The generation gap: Two views of being an attorney hurts the old and the young,” in the Chicago Lawyer in which she discussed the importance in encouraging mentor relationships that highlight multiple career paths, personal guidance, shared experiences and mutual respect between young female millennials and older baby-boomer females, in order to keep young women in the workplace.


In her article, Silverthorn reported that last year, consulting group Bain & Co. released the results of a five-year study on men and women in corporate America. The study found that in the first two years of their career, 43 percent of women aspired to be in top management while only 34 percent of men aspired to do the same and both genders were equally confident about their abilities to reach those top positions. Two years later, however, 34 percent of men with two or more years of experience still wanted to be in top-level management, while only 16 percent of women still aspired to do the same. Further, women's confidence about reaching those management positions fell by 50 percent, while men's stayed the same. Bain found that these declines for women were independent of marriage and becoming a mother. Rather, women felt that they failed to meet the stereotype of an ideal worker, felt their supervisors were unsupportive of them, and felt there were few role models at the top.


Silverthorn reported that the landscape of law firms shares many similarities with corporate America. According to the American Bar Association's Commission on Women, women make up 47.3 percent of law school graduates and 44.8 percent of law firm associates. However, they only make up 20.2 percent of partners, 17 percent of equity partners, and only 4 percent of the 200 largest law firms are managed by women. Silverthorn reports that while the 20.2 percent of women partners claim they do try to mentor these young women, many of the young millennial are simply not interested in making the same career and life choices that they made.


According to Silverthorn, the lack of mentoring relationships between women in law firms is due, in part, to a generational gap between millennials and baby boomers. Silverthorn reports that in a recent survey, 94 percent of college-educated millennials agreed that their generation does not support the current model of economic and career success, while 77 percent agreed that their personal lives would take priority over their professional goals.


This generational trend, in Silverthorn's opinion, directly conflicts with many of the baby boomer female attorney's hard fight for the inclusion of family considerations in the workplace but at the same time understanding that the reality of the workplace meant success often meant less family and personal time. According to Silverthorn, older female mentors may find themselves frustrated by younger mentees looking to prioritize (not balance) personal lives and/or family lives. Conversely, younger mentees may find themselves frustrated by older mentors who offer personal life options that younger mentees do not find palatable or possible.


Silverthorn reports that the reality is that as the largest generation in the workplace, millennials will take over leadership positions in the next few decades. However, according to the Bain report, "[d]espite women comprising more than half of all college graduates and about 40 percent of MBAs, they number only a slim 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 17 percent of board members—numbers that have barely moved in decades."


Silverthorn concludes by emphasizing the importance of keeping young women in the workplace, explaining that the modern American workplace has changed significantly over the past century, thanks in large part to boomer women entering, staying in and leading the workplace.


Abigail Higgins, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Chicago, IL


October 30, 2015

Study Shows Little Advancement in Gender Equality for Corporate America

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. and the founder of LeanIn.Org, recently reported in the Wall Street Journal that, according to a new study released by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co., women remain underrepresented in corporate America at every level. The study, entitled “Women in the Workplace 2015,” surveyed 118 companies and 30,000 employees on topics including human resources policies, attitudes on gender, and job satisfaction and found only modest improvements in the area of gender equality since 2012. Overall, the study found that corporate America has made only modest improvements in the area of gender equality since 2012. Sandberg notes that “[w]hen women get stuck, corporate America gets stuck” because the multitude of evidence demonstrates that diversity helps companies perform better financially and otherwise.


The study found that, contrary to popular belief, attrition is not the main reason for lack of gender diversity in corporate America, with women not leaving the companies surveyed at a higher rate than men. Rather, the reason women are underrepresented at higher levels is the barriers to advancement that they consistently face. Indeed, women are twice as likely to believe that their gender will make it more difficult to advance than men, with senior-level women finding gender to be a larger obstacle than entry-level women. There is also the stress associated with overcoming these obstacles (as opposed to family concerns) which results in women being overall less interested than men in achieving top executive status.


Also, while the companies surveyed also reported that their CEOs are highly committed to diversity, less than half of employees believed that gender diversity was a top priority for their CEO. Further, the study found that ninety percent of women and men believed that taking an extended leave of absence will hurt their careers, resulting in fewer employees taking advantage of these types of flexibility programs. Yet, because research shows that mothers and fathers are more likely than those without children to want to become top executives, Sandberg believes that companies need to do more to encourage employees to take advantage of flexibility programs in order to relieve some of the stress of a work-life balance.


Sandberg further advises that to get more women into leadership roles, our culture as a whole has to address its discomfort with female leadership. Women should not have to choose between achieving their goals and being labeled “bossy” or not reaching their full potential yet being “liked.”


Sandberg concluded that while corporate America has a lot to learn, measuring progress via studies like this one is a first step in the right direction. To that end, Sandberg offered suggestions to the companies who participated in the study, including tracking progress, training employees, and remaining transparent in their efforts towards gender equality. Although there will certainly be growing pains in the process, Sandberg remains optimistic that gender equality can be achieved.


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, corporate America, gender equality, diversity


Susan M. Kelleher, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., Florham Park, NJ


October 28, 2015

Five Practical Networking Tips

At the third annual Women, Influence & Power in Law event held in Washington, D.C., the opening panel of power-hitters, Deborah Ben-Canaan, the legal recruiting partner for Major, Lindsey & Africa; Rebecca Bortolotti, VP and Chief Technology Counsel at ConAgra Foods; and Amanda Wait, partner at Hunton & Williams, shared the following five networking tips:


  1. 1. Look at every encounter in your life as a networking opportunity, and never turn down an introduction.

  2. 2. Rethink "networking" as "relationship building" that can later develop into more fruitful connections.

  3. 3. Stay authentic to yourself because people will see through you if you're fake, and no one wants a fake lawyer.

  4. 4. Present yourself professionally and confidently.  And keep a few elevator pitches in your pocket.

  5. 5. E-networking matters—update your LinkedIn profile, and google yourself so you are aware of your own online presence.

The article discussing these networking tips was authored by Rich Steeves for Inside Counsel.  


Suzanne Jones, Hinshaw & Culberson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN


October 20, 2015

Women Leaders Confront the Glass Cliff

Marianne Cooper, author, sociologist and lead researcher for Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, recently posted an article discussing the “glass cliff”—a term that describes the phenomenon of women being more likely to be put into leadership roles under “risky and precarious circumstances,” thereby increasing their odds of failure.


The article details various studies over the last 10 years which demonstrate the validity of this phenomenon as follows:


  • In the 2005 general election in the UK, it was found that the Conservative party selected women to oppose seats that were essentially unwinnable while men were chosen to run in much less challenging contests;
  • Over a 15 year period, it was shown that Fortune 500 companies were more likely to promote white women, (and men and women of color), over white men to CEO when firms were in distress; and,
  • Law students were found more likely to assign a difficult legal matter to female attorneys.


The research, Cooper states, illustrates that in addition to getting fewer leadership opportunities than men, women are now getting more difficult and challenging opportunities. In exploring why the phenomenon exists, Cooper concludes that it is because when we “think crisis—we think female.” Specifically, women are thought, more than their male counterparts, to possess traits perceived as important during times of crisis, such as the ability to collaborate and interact well with others.


The increased chance of failure associated with the glass cliff has negative consequences, including reinforcement of the stereotype that men are better leaders and the blame for inherited problems and/or inevitable failures being placed on female leaders, ultimately hampering their career advancement.


The article also showed the disparity in gender reactions to the glass cliff by referencing a study wherein, when asked to read a newspaper article about the topic, women were more likely to “recognize its prevalence and its unfairness,” while men were more likely to question the validity of the research and deny the existence of the phenomenon altogether.


Finally, Cooper notes that research has shown that blacks and other ethnic minorities are also confronting the glass cliff.  She concludes the article with the query: “In light of evidence documenting the glass cliff, why do you think many continue to deny that it exists?”


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, Marianne Cooper, glass cliff, leadership


—Angela A. Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY



October 6, 2015

McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2015 Analysis

A study of 118 companies and nearly 30,000 employees by McKinsey & Company and Lean In concludes that there is work to be done in order for gender equality to be reached in corporate America. The study concludes that:


  • Women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline despite the fact that women are not leaving companies at higher rates than men or due to difficulties of balancing work and family. Based on the slow rate of progress, it will take 25 years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP level and more than 100 years in the C suite.


  • Women face obstacles on the path to senior leadership because fewer women hold roles that lead to the C suite and have lower odds of reaching senior leadership.


  • Women are four times more likely than men to think they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender—and are twice as likely to think their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future.


The study recommends a number of means to try to close the gender gap at senior levels, including tracking key metrics and setting gender targets and holding leaders accountable. The study cites emerging evidence that companies that set gender targets for recruiting and advancement will realize better outcomes.


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, McKinsey, gender equality, senior level, VP level, leadership, opportunities, workplace, profession


Trish O'Prey, GE Corporation, New York, NY


October 6, 2015

Looking at "A Toxic Work World"

In her recent article for the New York Times, Anne-Marie Slaughter discusses the repercussions for American society from the pressures of competitive and demanding work environments. Slaughter points out that this problem affects employees “from hotel housekeepers to surgeons” and that health experts are beginning to see stress as an epidemic.


Much of the stress, in Slaughter’s opinion, stems from the rigidity of the typical American work environment, which does not allow the flexibility many employees need to care for family members. This affects women in the workplace the most, many of whom leave their careers altogether. “America has unlocked the talent of its women in a way that few nations can match; girls are outpacing boys in high schools, universities and graduate schools and are now entering the work force at higher salaries. But the ranks of those women still thin significantly as they rise toward the top, from more than 50 percent at entry level to 10 to 20 percent in senior management.”


Slaughter points out that although the problem is frustrating for women in professional careers (such as the young lawyer who had to turn down a general counsel position because her employer refused to allow her to work from home one day a week), the situation is far more serious for the millions of women on the brink of poverty for whom having a sick child, a school holiday, or an elderly parent needing extra care one day actually puts their jobs at risk.


This is not, Slaughter notes, simply a “woman’s problem,” but a problem “with the workplace, or more precisely, with a workplace designed for the ‘Mad Men’ era, for ‘Leave It to Beaver’ families in which one partner does all the work of earning an income and the other partner does all the work of turning that income into care.”


Slaughter cites to a study performed at a global consulting firm at which management believed there was a gender problem because just 10 percent of partners were women, although 40 percent of junior associates were female. The researchers surprisingly found that an equal number of men and women had left the firm in the preceding three years, contradicting the firm’s belief that their main problem was women leaving the firm for family reasons. “The firm’s key human resources problem was not gender, as management believed, but rather a culture of overwork.”


How can we fix this problem? Slaughter believes that we need to become more like other industrialized countries and “build an infrastructure of care.” This will require changes including high quality and affordable child and elder care, paid family and medical leave for men and women, a right to request part time work, job protection for pregnant employees, and educational reform to make schedules more compatible with a digital rather than an agricultural society.


Is this impossible? Slaughter points out proposed legislation from both Democrats and Republicans that would be moves in the right direction, such as a bill that would allow employers to offer paid leave hours instead of overtime pay. She notes that our society has changed greatly for the better over the past 50 years for many groups, and is hopeful that eventually we will “see men who lean out for care as role models just as much as women who lean in for work.”


Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, law firms, women, caregivers, work-life balance


Megan Conner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Jackson, MS


August 13, 2015

More Female Attorneys Score Top Rainmaker Spots

As reported by Law360, the latest Best Law Firms for Women survey (Survey) released by Working Mother Media and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC revealed that there is an increase in female rainmakers in the BigLaw arena.


Specifically, the Survey found that 16 percent of 50 recognized firms reported three women among their top 10 rainmakers, a notable increase from the 11 percent of firms reporting the same ratio in the previous year. (That being said, the Survey found an additional 25 percent of these firms reported two women in that group, a decrease from 29 percent in the previous year).


Experts suggest that public recognition of female lawyers as top revenue generators could have a positive ripple effect on the careers of other female lawyers. Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder of the OnRamp “returnship” fellowship program for female lawyers, opines that because female rainmakers have greater overall authority and influence on firm practices, including partner promotions and bonuses, as well as the ability to assign work to chosen mentees, having more of them will result in increased clout for women in BigLaw generally. Further, according to Flex-Time Lawyers President Deborah Epstein Henry, industry data suggests that firms with higher concentrations of female lawyers as top revenue generators tend to have smaller gaps between compensation for male and female partners and better pay equity at the firm overall.


These “ripple effects” are especially noteworthy, experts say, “in a profession struggling with stubborn gender divides in compensation and talent loss.”


However, the Survey also revealed that female attorneys did not make comparable strides in other arenas of BigLaw. For example, the percentage of female equity partners represented in the annual survey has been essentially flat since 2008.

Moreover, there are experts who warn against over-emphasizing the rainmaker label. Roberta Liebenberg of Fine Kaplan and Black RPC and the co-author of a recent report on the lack of gender diversity among lead trial counsel states that, as a woman, being a top revenue generator does not necessarily translate into a bigger paycheck as it often does for many men. 


Liebenberg went on to say that you have to look beyond the tag of rainmaker and determine what is really going on at the firm with regard to compensation gaps among women and their male colleagues, as well as billing rates, political clout and overall leadership opportunities for women as compared to men.


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, rainmaker, BigLaw, survey, Working Mother Media, Flex-Time Lawyers LLC


Angela A. Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, LLC, New York, NY


July 30, 2015

Lady Lawyers Lacking at the Lectern

In her recent ABA Journal article, author Stephanie Francis illuminates the findings of the recent ABA study, “First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table.” The study examined around 600 randomly-selected cases from 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to discern the relative participation of men and women in the role of lead counsel.

According to the study, in both the civil and criminal realm, men are far more likely than women to appear as lead counsel. The study also broke down women’s participation by case type; for example, women are more than twice as likely to appear as lead counsel in a property case than in a contract case.

Interestingly, Francis notes that women in government jobs are more likely to appear at the podium. In fact, 69 percent of the women appearing in criminal cases represented the government.

Why are female lawyers lacking at the lectern? Francis explains that a number of factors may be at play: family responsibilities might curb the opportunities available to women lawyers; the existence of gender dynamics in the courtroom; and senior partners, clients, and even court officials may operate with implicit biases about the effectiveness of women at trial. Francis indicates that these factors may militate even stronger against woman litigators of color.

To get more women into the role of lead counsel, the study suggests that law schools teach future female litigators how to tread around implicit biases, and to steer women toward government jobs. Women should also actively seek trial experience and should “own the courtroom.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, lead counsel, gender biases, female lawyers


—Lauren Schoeberl, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


July 30, 2015

"Just" Don't Use It

In her article originally posted on LinkedIn, former Google executive and Apple alum Ellen Petry Leanse discusses the liberal use of the word “just” by women in the workplace.

The article describes “just” as a “permission” word, a “warm-up to a request, and apology for interrupting, a shy knock on a door before asking ‘Can I get something I need from you?’” There are some examples of “just” phrases offered in the article, including “I just wanted to check in on . . .” and “If you can just give me an answer, then . . .” According to Leanse, using the word “just” in this permission-seeking fashion puts the user’s conversation partner in a position of authority and control and sends a “subtle message of subordination.”

Leanse first noticed the high concentration of “just” when she joined a company with a high ratio of female to male employees, and had a hunch that women used “just” in the workplace more often than men. To prove her hunch, Leanse performed a test in the real world, asking one guy and one girl to each spend three minutes speaking about their startups to a room full of young entrepreneurs. The audience tallied the times that each speaker said the word “just.” When the female spoke, she used the word “just” five or six times, but the male speaker used “just” only once.

Leanse suggests that we heighten our awareness of the word “just” and try to take the word out of our sentences. As a result, the article claims, we will find clearer, more confident ways of making our ideas known.

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, law firms, communication


Holly Hosford, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Birmingham, AL


June 29, 2015

Creating and Maintaining Work/Life Balance

In the recent article “The Work/Life Conundrum: Trying to Be Super Mom and Super Lawyer,” author Katherine Maloney Perch, a partner in Quarles & Brady’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group, provides tips for women who are trying to balance the roles of mother and attorney. 


The article first notes the challenges associated with balancing motherhood with a legal career. The challenges of providing premier client service, billable hour requirements, and the need to build and maintain strong client relationships can make raising a family difficult.  In addition, the rise of technology has also made attorneys available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which has made it much more difficult to set boundaries between work and family life. 
As a result, women are leaving the legal profession in high numbers. Perch notes that “women make up almost 50 percent of law school graduates, and yet only 17 percent attain equity partnership in law firms.” 


To combat this exodus, Perch offers several tips for creating and maintaining life/work balance. These include finding a life partner willing to dedicate equal time to parenting, creating a support system at both work and home, and avoiding “Super Mom Syndrome.” She also discusses the importance of finding a firm that truly supports maternity and paternity leave and finding an internal champion who can serve as a mentor both professionally and personally. Finally, she stresses the importance of women taking care of themselves through regular exercise, doctor’s appointments, and time for themselves. 
Overall, Perch notes that balancing a legal career and a family will not be easy, but that it is important for the legal profession to find a way to encourage women to find that balance. She notes “[w]e’ve got to find a way to do better—so that women can be moms and lawyers and not be forced to choose between the two.”     


Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, law firms, work-life balance, women


Jessica Jernigan-Johnson, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Nashville, TN


June 29, 2015

Make the Most Out of Networking

In her post “Networking Tips for Women Lawyers” on the Lawyers Who Lunch blog, attorney Jill Jester of Minor & Jester, P.C., shares advice for making the most of networking opportunities. Networking takes time and effort, and the benefits are most often neither immediate nor apparent. Jester’s tips are aimed at helping lawyers engage in networking that is productive, efficient, and enjoyable.

She begins by encouraging attorneys not to be scattershot with their networking efforts. “Be strategic,” she advises. Join organizations whose missions you are passionate about and that will put you in touch with the types of clients you want. Networking is time-consuming, so spend that time wisely and in a way that will be enjoyable. “Always ask about the time commitment for any event or organization before you commit,” and avoid “overjoining.” If you have too many networking obligations, each one will be both less enjoyable and less productive. 


Likewise, look for “people you get along with.” Network with the people you would enjoy working with, in order to be happier both with your business development efforts and with the business you develop. And if you do not find people you enjoy right away, keep trying.


Jester goes on to give practical tips to avoid networking pitfalls and making the most out of each networking opportunity. It is key, she writes, to “be polite.” Networking means running into the same people over and over again, so do not burn bridges. Looking professional is also important, because your goal is to convince others to do business with you.


Finally, Jester delves into balancing networking commitments with life both at home and at work. If you have a spouse or partner, talk to that person about your after-hours networking obligations and ensure he or she understands that networking, even if just once a month, is a part of your career. At work, understand that even if networking builds your professional value, your firm may view it as less valuable than billing hours. To that end, “don’t work on non-work-related networking at work without the blessing of your employer.” 


Keywords: business development, networking, law firms, work-life balance


Erin K. Sullivan, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Washington, D.C.



June 29, 2015

Legal Profession Lacks Diversity in High-Level Positions

In her recent article in the Washington Post, author Deborah L. Rhode points out the lack of diversity in the legal profession, suggests reasons for the lack of diversity, and proposes ways to address the issue.


Ms. Rhode notes that law is one of the least diverse professions in the nation, particularly in high-level positions. While women make up more than one-third of the profession, they only account for about one-fifth of law firm partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations, and law school deans. The article indicates that women experience greater dissatisfaction than men with respect to level of responsibility, recognition for work, and chances for advancement.


Ms. Rhode suggests that part of the problem is a lack of consensus that there is actually a significant problem. Many lawyers think the barriers are gone and that any lingering inequality is a function of different capabilities, commitment, and choices. According to the author, however, even when factors such as law school grades or time spent out of the workforce or on part-time schedules are controlled, studies show that men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.


Exclusion from networks can also hinder career development for women and minorities. American Bar Association research reveals that 62 percent of women of color and 60 percent of white women, but only four percent of white men, felt excluded from formal and informal networking opportunities. Rhode recommends mentoring programs as a means of resolving this problem.


Rhode suggests the most successful approach to addressing diversity issues is to create a task force or committee with diverse members who have credibility with their colleagues and a stake in the outcome. Moreover, she says that assessment is a crucial part of diversity initiatives. In other words, organizations should collect both quantitative and qualitative data on matters such as retention, assignments, satisfaction, mentoring, and work/family conflicts in order to analyze the effectiveness of their diversity initiatives.


Rhode advocates for lawyers to assume personal responsibility for professional changes. She says these reforms should be seen as organizational priorities in which everyone has a stake, instead of merely “women” or “minority” issues.


Keywords: diversity, legal profession, inequality, initiatives, women


—Melissa Moravec, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


June 29, 2015

The Part-Time Path to Partnership and Career Success

In the article “Top Female Lawyers and Executives Find That Part-Time Isn’t a Career Killer,” author Claire Bushey summarized the part-time paths that several women took during their careers and how these women were able to achieve success. For eight years, one of the women, Rebecca Eisner, billed between 60 and 80 percent of the hours required for full-time. In April 2014, she was named head of Mayer Brown’s Chicago office. Other women who worked part-time or flexible arrangements include Kim Simios, the managing partner of Ernst &Young’s Chicago office; Amy Manning, managing partner of McGuireWoods’ Chicago office; and Julie Howard, chairman of Navigant. The article also discussed common factors that resulted in successful part-time arrangements: (1) a supporting mentor within the company, (2) flexibility on projects coupled with a commitment to client service, and (3) a longer path to partnership. While within some organizations alternative work arrangement are looked down upon, this is slowly changing as companies focus more on doing what is necessary to retain top talent.


Keywords: part-time, career success, job flexibility, women, alternative work arrangements


Jenny Austin, Baker & McKenzie LLP, Chicago, IL



June 29, 2015

Childless Women "Scorned" in Workplace

In the recent article, “Childless Women Are Scorned,” author Vivia Chen commented on the recent finding that women without children reported “significantly more incivility than childless men and are ‘most negatively affected’ by incivility” in the workplace. According to a study conducted by psychology professors at Texas A&M, University of Florida, and University of Miami that focused on female law professors and their treatment at work, childless women are disdained and do not benefit from the same career boost childless men experience. The study noted the reason may be that childless women “violate traditional notions about gender by not occupying the mother role” and “may be perceived as selfish, competitive, and trying to ‘act like men’ . . . and therefore punished via uncivil treatment.” In addition, childless women do not have the “psychological safety net” that family life provides. According to the study, “not only are women without kids treated with contempt at work for aping male ambitions, they go home to a lonely existence that offers little consolation.”


Keywords: workplace, incivility, childless women, contempt


—Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


June 29, 2015

Mounting Evidence of the Advantages for Children of Working Mothers

A recent article by Claire Cain Miller of The Upshot, a New York Times politics and policy website, explores the “mounting evidence” that children of working mothers receive many educational, social, and economic benefits. This is true notwithstanding that a Pew Research Center poll concluded that 41 percent of adults believe an increase in working mothers—nearly three quarters of American mothers are employed—is bad for society. Miller notes that while it is clear that children benefit when their parents spend more time with them, the evidence shows that working parents make certain trade-offs in how their time is spent, and as a result their children also accrue benefits.

In a study that spanned tens of thousand of adults across over two dozen countries, results have shown that both sexes experienced benefits when raised by working mothers. Daughters often went further in their education and careers, while sons spent increased time involved in housework and childcare. These effects were strong in the United States, even after controlling for demographic factors.

Kathleen McGinn, a professor at Harvard Business School and an author of this study, which is part of Harvard’s new gender initiative for researching and discussing gender issues, believes that these new results about the positive outcomes of children raised by working mothers will relieve some of “working mothers’ guilt.” Others are less confident that the results were as significant. They argue it is difficult to know what factors were determinative in causing the aforementioned effects. For example, Raquel Fernandez, an economics professor at New York University who has also researched the topic, sees these results and wonders, “Was it really her mother working who did this, or was it her mother getting an education?” Both sides agree, however, that the study is part of a more general shift in understanding and discussing the relationship between work and family. In fact, a 2010 meta-analysis of 69 studies over 50 years demonstrated that rather than children with decreased learning abilities or social/behavioral issues, working mothers tended to have children who were high achievers with less depression and anxiety.

Fernandez also led a study that showed that sons raised by working mothers were more likely to have a wife that works. This is just one example of how parents’ attitudes toward gender equality and careers are often reflected in their children’s attitudes on the topics. The Harvard study was consistent with and expanded on the findings of Fernandez’s study and the idea of shared preferences. With the Harvard study, it seems that the influences of a working mother expand beyond preferences to actual behavior. McGinn explained that she ran a number of tests to determine if the results were in fact due to having a working mother in the household and not some other factor. While the effects were smaller when controlling for such factors as age, education, and family makeup, the differences were still “statistically significant.”

The effects of having a working mother, such as daughters being more successful professionally and sons spending more time at home and with the children, were strongest in countries with a more conservative attitude toward gender roles and countries with a big divide in opinion about working mothers (such as we see in the United States). Particularly in the U.S., attitudes about working mothers vary greatly from family to family, depending on the childcare they have available to them and the income requirements for each. As all families know, how working parents affects children is only one part of the puzzle; challenges such as long hours, time constraints, financial requirements, and childcare options come into play. Kathleen Gerson, a sociologist at New York University, rounds out the main article with an important takeaway when she is quoted as saying, “Even in the U.S., where we continue to have this debate [about working mothers], we found that most people believe the right decision for a family is the one that works best for them.”


Keywords: working mother, working parents, stay-at-home, gender inequality, family, children


Heather K. Murphy, Bressler, Amery & Ross, PC, New York, NY


June 29, 2015

An All-Woman, Family-Friendly Firm

Recently, the New York Times article, “A Woman-Led Law Firm That Lets Partners Be Parents,” entered the lives of two partners at the Washington, D.C.-based firm Gellar Law Group to explore the creative ways that parents can be partners and partners can be parents.

The article opens by describing the challenging phenomena faced by some women in the legal world. For example, in 2013, women comprised only 16.5 percent of law partners despite graduating from law school in numbers on par with men. According to the article, most women fall off the partner track because of the rigid realities of firm life—long hours and inflexible work-life accommodations. While the sweeping majority of law firms offer reduced work schedules for their attorneys, only six percent of attorneys actually work part-time.

Women attorneys without a stay-at-home partner often find themselves “outsourcing their life” by hiring services to help with the children and chores. The incantation to “outsource your life,” however, was unworkable for the Gellar Law Group founder and mother of three, Rebecca Gellar. Consequently, she left big firm life in 2011 to start a family-friendly practice. Her law partner, Maria Simon, similarly left her previous practice when the obligations of work and motherhood began to clash.

The structure of the family-friendly practice is as mobile and ingenious as its employees. To begin, there is no permanent Gellar Law Group office; rather, office space is rented hourly as needed in a shared office work space. Technology allows the six employees to stay connected with shared online calendars and real-time chat spaces. The firm’s main phone number brings clients to a switchboard that automatically diverts calls to attorney landlines or cell phones. Accordingly, employees are encouraged to work wherever they want, whenever they want. The business model is so flexible that it allowed one associate to move with her family to North Carolina.

While the partners certainly have achieved greater freedom over their schedules at the Gellar Law Group, the article notes how the firm’s business model is unable to ameliorate all of the pressures on family-centered women in the law. The partners at the Gellar Law Group report that they still work around 60 hours per week while struggling to squeeze family time between work time. The Gellar Law Group is evidence, however, that while perfection may not be possible, creative and workable solutions are still within reach.


Keywords: women, lawyers, family-friendly, mobile law office


—Lauren Michels, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


May 29, 2015

A Unique Intern Class—Returning to Law After Voluntary Leave

In the article, “GCs Find Untapped Talent in Women Returning to Law,” (login required) author Melissa Maleske discusses JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s (JPM) new in-house counsel internship “re-entry program.” Unlike other internship programs, this program is limited to “attorneys trying to return to work after extended voluntary leaves.” Generally, this includes “high-performing attorneys who fall outside the typical pool of in-house candidates” and women, who are more likely to take family-related leaves.

The program’s backbones are training and mentorship. The training sessions consist of continuing legal education and back-to-work refresher courses on “new technology, networking, writing an executive summary and presenting to senior leadership.” JPM also pairs up with the company’s outside counsel to lead the educational components. The author notes that companies should consider partnering with law firms as they can be “priceless allies for law departments looking to launch these kinds of efforts.” According to the article, the company benefits from additional legal training while the law firm gets a “better understanding of its client’s business and needs.”

Mentorship is another important feature of the program. Each intern is assigned two mentors: one from JPM and a partner from its outside counsel’s law firm. The “in-house” mentors are selected based on their knowledge of the company’s business and ability to make interns feel comfortable coming to them with questions. The firm mentors, on the other hand, provide guidance on working with outside counsel.

The article encourages other companies and law firms to adopt similar internship programs for this “underutilized pool” of talent. According to the author, tapping into this pool is a huge benefit for companies as candidates come to the table with the “training and investment” from their prior experiences and have had time to mature and gain life experiences from being in the workforce. According to JPM’s director of the “re-entry program,” the candidates perform “at an extremely high level, almost as if there had been no gap in work experience” and contribute as if they were a lateral hire.

The article notes that what is essential to these types of internship programs “is a commitment to the program, which includes devoting time and people to training and mentorship.” The program can be adapted to fit the size and resources of the company. Another essential component is having the right candidates. Successful candidates are those who are open and eager to learn and try new things, take coaching and advice, and respond to mentorship.

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, training, mentorship, internships, voluntary leave, in-house counsel

Katie Foley, Associate at Hinshaw & Culbertson, Minneapolis, MN


May 29, 2015

The Pervasive Interruption of Women and What to Do About It

In the recent article “Mansplaining, Manterrupting & Bropropriating: Gender Bias and the Pervasive Interruption of Women,” lead researcher Dr. Arin N. Reeves explains her research into whether there are gender differences between which gender is interrupted more in meetings, conference calls, and panel discussions.

After observing over 2,400 minutes of conversations in live meetings, conference calls, and panel discussions, Dr. Reeves found that there was an average of 29.6 interruptions per meeting. Overall, interruptions occurred most frequently in plenary panel discussions. Interruptions occurred more when the meeting took place face to face rather than over the phone. Of the total interruptions noted, 67.8 percent were by men and 32.2 percent were by women. “Men definitely interrupted more than women, and they were also far more likely to interrupt women than they were to interrupt men … Interestingly, women also are far more likely to interrupt other women than they are to interrupt men.” When men interrupted, 71.8 percent were interruptions of women compared to 28.2 percent of interruptions of other men. When women interrupted, 64.6 percent of the time the woman interrupted another woman.

Dr. Reeves found that “most of the men’s interruptions of others … were not conscious or deliberate.” However, women were “overwhelmingly conscious of being interrupted” and reported that they often felt disrespected, invisible, stuck, and frustrated.

Dr. Reeves offers several ideas for inclusion, including: create and use agendas for meetings, take turns, remind people at the beginning of the meeting that interruptions prevent an effective exchange of ideas and make meetings longer than necessary, for men to get engaged, for women to stay engaged, to disinterrupt interruptions, and to speak up about interruptions.

Overall, Dr. Reeves opines that “we cannot talk about women’s retention, advancement and leadership in workplaces without exploring what happens when women are consistently interrupted in the workplace.” However, by “simply acknowledging the interrupting and the impact of it will start a very necessary conversation in our workplaces.”

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, gender differences, interruptions, meetings, women’s advancement

Tiffany deGruy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Birmingham, AL


May 29, 2015

"Loose Connections": The Key to Building a Successful Career

In a recent interview for Bizwoman.com, Sallie Krawcheck, former CFO of Citigroup and president of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America, and current owner and chairwoman of Ellevate, a global women’s professional networking organization, advised that her secret weapon for building a successful career is “loose connections.”

Loose connections, Krawcheck explained, are people you casually meet at meetings, conferences, or in your travels (business or personal) and their contacts. Krawcheck credits her professional success to loose connections and believes they are key to career advancement generally and more than likely the best place to find business opportunities.

As an example of the utility of loose connections, Krawcheck explained how the purchase of her company, Ellevate, emanated from a plane ride next to the former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Arthur Levitt, in 2009. She described how this introduction led to a series of other introductions, and ultimately to a connection with Janet Hanson, the founder of 85 Broads, the women’s networking organization that Krawcheck bought in 2013 and renamed Ellevate. Krawcheck noted that not one of the intermediary contacts that helped make the transaction possible were the “kind of friend Krawcheck would invite over for dinner.”

Krawcheck cautions that the key to maintaining loose connections is to focus on what you can give to the relationships, e.g., by providing information of interest to the contacts through email, LinkedIn, or even a quick phone call, as opposed to what you can get out of them. In doing so, Krawcheck suggests that it is best to keep your message “short but thoughtful” to demonstrate that you were thinking of the particular individual when you read the article, saw the video, met the person, etc., that you are referring to them.

Krawcheck maintains that by following this advice, you can make many valuable connections with minimal effort; she warns, however, that you should not “expect magic” with each communication—the implication being that it is a marathon, not a race, and if you are patient, you will be rewarded.

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, networking, connections, career success, relationships

Angela A. Turiano, Esq., Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


May 29, 2015

Continuing Wage Gap Between Male and Female Workers

On April 14, 2015, the New York Times published an editorial regarding “Equal Pay Day,” a day selected by the National Committee on Pay Equity and described by the Times as a day meant to draw attention to the continuing wage gap between male and female workers.

The editorial board, after setting forth the history and evolution of the Equal Pay Act, a law signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, ponders why progress on wage equality has stalled. For example, in 1963, a full-time working woman typically made 59¢ for every dollar earned by her male colleagues; yet the gap has only narrowed to 78¢ on the dollar by 2013. Moreover, in 2014, the ratio of female-to-male weekly earnings was 82.5 percent.

The editorial board opines that the longer this gap persists, the less it can be explained away by factors other than discrimination. Relying upon data from the Economic Policy Institute, the article explains that men continue to out-earn women at every corporate level; curiously, the higher up the ladder, the bigger the gap. For example, women in the 95th percentile of female earners made 79 percent of wages for men at the 95th percentile, while women in the lowest 10th percentile made 91¢ for each dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Furthermore, the article sheds light on the fact that the pay gap between male and female workers is more pronounced among workers with a college degree. In fact, the higher level of education, the bigger the gap. For example, female workers with college degrees earned approximately 78 percent of their male counterparts. On the other end of the spectrum, the article explains that workers without higher education have the narrowest gap, about 80 percent of male earnings (female workers earned $16 per hour for a male worker’s $20 per hour salary). The editorial board explains that the wage gap exists even in traditionally female occupations, such as nursing and education, where male registered nurses out-earn female counterparts by an average of $5,000 annually and male teachers continue to out-earn female teachers.

In closing, the editorial board criticizes the Republican party, blaming it for blocking consideration of a bill that would have extended pay equity rules currently in place for federal workers to private employers. The editorial board hopes that more effort can be made in this area.

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, Equal Pay Act, wage gap, wage equality, Equal Pay Day

Emily J. Bordens, Esq., Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., Florham Park, NJ


April 10, 2015

How to Excel in a Male-Dominated Workplace

In the recent article “7 Ways to Excel in a Male-Dominated Workplace,” Jane Fang reflects on her experiences in investment banking and the sports industry to provide practical tips for other women in male-dominated industries. 

Her first tip is to advocate for yourself to your supervisor regarding projects that are of interest to you. Men are often better about vocalizing which opportunities they want to pursue, while women are more apt to wait for projects to come their way. Fang suggests simply grabbing your boss in the hall or on a coffee break to request exciting projects. However, you can also schedule a formal time to meet with your boss if you are uncomfortable with this type of casual run-in setting.

For her second tip, Fang encourages women to spend time with colleagues and supervisors outside the office, for example, in a happy hour setting. However, as her third tip, she addresses the fine line between tolerating sexual harassment and not being too easily offended. While she clearly states “sexual harassment is never OK,” she found that tolerating disgusting stories allowed her into the inner circle of her male colleagues.

For her fourth tip, Fang cautions women against being the “coffee or lunch getter.” While the occasional trip to Starbucks for a supervisor during a particularly stressful time might be understandable, you should be leery of acting as an assistant if that is not your job, especially if your male colleagues are not performing the same tasks. 

For her fifth tip, Fang encourages women to say no to an assignment when their situation demands it. There may be pressure to seem helpful, but Fang conveys the importance of pushing back when you lack capacity.

For tip six, Fang notes the destructive nature of female stereotypes in a male-dominated workplace, but encourages women to identify their strengths even if they are stereotypically feminine traits. In a male-dominated workplace those strengths are lacking and can create an opportunity for leadership. Finally, for her last tip, Fang emphasizes mentoring and sponsorship as a key to career advancement.

Meghan M. Dougherty, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., Florham Park, NJ


March 30, 2015

Number of Females and Minorities Increases in Law Firms

On February 17, 2015, NALP released a report indicating that the number of women associates in law firms has increased for the first time in four years. The number of minority associates has also increased after a slight decline from 2009 to 2010. The percentage of women and minority partners in law firms has also seen a slight bump. In 2014, minority partners accounted for 7.33% of partners, while women accounted for 21.05% of partners. In 2013, minorities accounted for 7.10%, and women 20.22%, of law firm partners. The NALP report observed that some of the increase is attributable to the increased representation of “women in general and minority women specifically among lawyers other than partners and associates, such as ‘of counsel’ and staff attorneys.”

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, women, minorities, law firms, partners, associates

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN


March 30, 2015

How to Network Successfully

In the article “The Right (and Wrong) Way to Network,” professional speaker and Duke professor Dorie Clark outlines how to successfully network. Ms. Clark cautions that “transactional networking” (or networking with a specific goal of finding a job, venture funding, or clients) is not the same as networking with the goal to build a “robust set of connections over time.” According to Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, transactional networking “often makes participants feel so bad about themselves, they feel ‘dirty.’” Ms. Clark recommends that if you are planning on doing transactional networking you should be up-front with the contact about your intentions. This will allow them the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether they want to connect.  

Ms. Clark goes on to provide a detailed process of how to successfully network with the goal of making robust connections. First, she advocates that you make a connection through a common interest. She suggests that if you have a preplanned meeting with someone, you research them beforehand on social media and other online resources to find possible common interests, such as “shared alma mater, hobby, or professional interest.” Ms. Clark also encourages thinking of thoughtful questions in advance about their business, and avoiding the worn questions like “What keeps you up at night?”

Her next recommendation is to arrange to meet in person. While telephone and video chats will suffice if you are not in the same location as the other person, whenever possible try to find out when you will next be in the same city and make a plan to connect. This will help solidify the new connection.

Additionally, Ms. Clark advises that before meeting with the person, you should think about and formulate an answer as to how you can help them. Throughout the meeting you can test this hypothesis by asking subtle questions. At the end of the meeting you can ask them directly about your idea. Ms. Clark provides some ideas of how you may be able to help your new connections. For example, if you are meeting with an entrepreneur, they are likely looking for new clients and you can suggest introducing them to someone you know who could use their products or services. Ms. Clark also suggests that you can offer publicity with your existing contacts, share their social media posts, or comment on their blogs.

Ms. Clark’s last piece of advice is to not ask your new contact for favors for a long time. Her rule of thumb is that you should not ask your contact for anything until you have known them for at least a year. Although there may be exceptions for people who you hit it off with right away, it is better to “err on the side of waiting and establishing trust.”

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, networking, contacts, common interest, transactional networking

Katie Foley, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Minneapolis, MN


February 25, 2015

Office Housework

In a recent article published in The New York Times, “Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee,” Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton School professor Adam Grant discuss women doing “office housework” and the effect on their careers compared with that of men. In keeping with what the authors refer to as “deeply held gender stereotypes,” the article explores the expectation that men are to be ambitious and results-oriented, while women nurturing and communal, traits that are often overlooked when it comes to office promotions. “When a man offers to help, we shower him with praise and rewards. But when a woman helps, we feel less indebted,” comment the authors. They go on to contend that the reverse is also true: “When a woman declines to help a colleague, people like her less and her career suffers, but when a man says no, he faces no backlash. A man who doesn’t help is ‘busy’; a woman is ‘selfish.’” The authors cite a study led by New York University psychologist Madeline Heilman, wherein participants evaluated the performance of a male or female employee who did or did not stay late to help colleagues prepare for an important meeting. The man who stayed late and helped was rated 14 percent more favorably than the woman, while if both declined to stay late to help, the woman was rated 12 percent lower than the man.

The authors’ solution to the disparity is not for women to stop helping or doing the “office housework,” but rather becoming more efficient at it so that at promotion time the focus is on other areas of contribution. The authors also suggest that men should start speaking up and draw attention to women’s contributions instead of simply quieting down to allow women the often missed opportunities dominated by men.

The article is the third article in a four-part series by Sandberg and Grant about women in the workplace.

Keywords: promotion, gender, stereotypes, office housework

M. Annie Santos, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Minneapolis, MN


February 25, 2015

Why Women Don't Want a Female Boss

In a recent Daily Worth article entitled “Why Women Don’t Want a Female Boss,” Anna Akbari explores the reasons behind women’s negative attitude toward those of their same, oft-described as gentler, sex. Akbari introduces the article with the bold statement: “Women are the worst.” This instantly calls upon the reader to react, and then asks the reader to reflect on what their reaction was to that statement. Did you nod in agreement? Or did the statement get “your feminist juices flowing?” This article wants to get us thinking about why women can be so hard on other women in the workforce.

The article discusses some studies that support the observation that a large number of women do not want to work for or with other women. For example, a recent Gallup study showed that not only do both genders prefer a male boss but also that “more women have this preference than men (39 percent to 26 percent).” This is one of two studies mentioned in the article. The other study highlights the fact that women regularly hire and fairly compensate men over women.

The author seems to have begun her own research into these statistics after a recent move of her own from New York to San Francisco. This move allowed her personal experience with the regional differences of female-to-female interaction. Akbari noticed a big change in her interactions with other females after she left New York. She wondered just what is it that makes women so tough on each other? Why does it differ across different regions? Are there other factors involved?

The article acknowledges that it is bringing a topic to the forefront that people are often afraid to bring up because they do not want to be labeled as “women-haters” or anti-feminist. Despite a hesitation to bring it up, the author was provided with numerous examples from former students and colleagues from regions nationwide when they were asked about experiences with female bosses and colleagues in the workforce. The article explains that the mentoring the females expected from other females was often lacking and suggests that this might lead to the vicious cycle of women not wanting to work with other women.

In conclusion, Akbari calls on females to reflect on the interactions they have had with other females and to stop abusing and/or avoiding each other. She reminds us that men do not experience this same-sex tension and we would be better off as a whole if we as women could learn not only to lean in, but to lean on, each other—for mentorship and support in the workplace.

Keywords: gender bias, female bosses, female colleagues, woman lawyers, gender gap

Heather K. Murphy, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


February 12, 2015

Blame the System—Not Women

In a recent article published in The Cut on nymag.com, Lisa Miller stated that we need to stop blaming women for holding themselves back from advancement in the workplace. The popular theory, she notes, has been that women’s lack of success is attributable to their willingness to scale back, accommodate family demands, and simply take themselves out of the running. It is much easier to place the blame on women for the gender gaps in the boardroom because they presumably value their careers less than men.

However, Ms. Miller notes that this fundamental and popular premise is flawed. Women are not pulling back, but are raising their hands and leaning in. Yet, why are there still so few women in the corner offices or the boardrooms? It is the system within which women work that is still “entrenched and fundamentally sexist.”

She points to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review that surveyed 25,000 MBA graduates of Harvard Business School over three generations that demonstrate that companies, not women, need to try harder. In the study, the researchers found that while men and women have the same amount of ambition at the outset of a career, men achieve greater success. She notes that a very critical finding was that there was “no correlation at all between career success and decisions an individual makes to accommodate family, by limiting travel, choosing more flexible hours, or moving laterally within a company.”

Ms. Miller discusses that the problem lies within the workplace culture. Women should stop shouldering the blame and we should stop blaming them for lack of gender equality. The Harvard study demonstrates that women are trying without succeeding. She advocates that “Companies need to try harder, too.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, workplace, gender equality, ambition, female success 

Maria Mariano Guthrie, Carlile Patchen & Murphy, LLP, Columbus, OH


February 12, 2015

Women Progressing into Partnership

On December 12, 2014, the ABA Law Practice Division published an article summarizing its recent interactive panel discussion entitled “Progressing into Partnership—Road Rules for a New Role,” which took place during the ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop in San Diego, California. This panel featured commentary from two male and two female attorneys who offered diverse perspectives on the road to partnership, finding success in your role as a partner, and achieving work-life balance. The article concluded that although the rules of the road to partnership will vary from firm to firm, a solid understanding of the issues one may face along the way can be a valuable tool. While there is no formal training for “how to run a law firm,” the panelists agreed that in scouting potential partnership candidates, firms will seek younger lawyers who assume leadership roles and responsibilities in both their legal and non-legal communities.

The panel emphasized the important role of the “mentor” and the “sponsor” in cultivating associates as future partners. The mentor can provide associates with valuable insight on the characteristics their firm believes qualify individuals for partnership and disqualify others. Likewise, the “sponsor” is an individual whom you can trust to advocate on your behalf when you are not present in a room. Both relationships are critical to an associate’s progression towards partnership and both must develop organically.

With regard to the criteria considered for partnership, the panelists encouraged associates to strive to be “value-added” employees who appreciate efficiency at the firm, in addition to reaching billable hour requirements. In particular, they emphasized the benefit of looking beyond minimum billable hours and focusing instead on the bottom line revenue actually collected from the hours billed.

Once you have assumed the role of partner at your firm, the panel advised it is time to start planning for and accepting new responsibilities. As members of a firm’s leadership team, partners are often expected to participate in various administrative committees and take an active role in marketing the firm’s business to potential clients. The panelists presented the benefits and drawbacks associated with equity and non-equity partnership including tax consequences, compensation distribution, and equity buy-ins as potential issues for which new partners must be prepared to plan.

The panelists also discussed communication gaps that continue to exist among male and female partners. In their roles, partners continue to struggle to actively listen to diverse opinions, and openly address controversial topics such as maternity leave, family leave, and compensation.  

Finally in response to the age old question: “Can you have it all?”—the panel agreed that a partner must evaluate each quality of life benefit against its attendant cost. The ability to play an active role in your child’s upbringing may often mean forgoing “maximum revenue” or billable hours at your firm, but each individual family must make its own assessment of these costs and benefits. One point the panelists were all in agreement on is that having a helpful support staff can certainly be key to achieving the ideal work-life balance.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, ABA women rainmakers, partnership, promotion, work-life balance


Diana E. Mahoney, Bressler, Amery & Ross, PC, New York, NY


January 27, 2015

Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

Anyone who has ever served on a dysfunctional committee or a board of directors that regularly holds less-than-efficient meetings is aware that there can be immense difficulty in working together to make decisions in a group. However, in a recent review of their study addressing “Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others,” published in the New York Times, Anita Woolley, Thomas W. Malone, and Christopher Chabris identify the three characteristics that distinguish the smartest teams.


First, members of the smartest teams “contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.” Second, these members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures the ability of people to read complex emotional states from other persons. Finally, teams with more women performed better than teams with more men. However, it was not “diversity” or having equal numbers of men and women that mattered in establishing the smartest teams, but simply having more women. This last effect was primarily explained by the fact that women were typically better at reading complex emotional states than men.


Additionally, at a time when teamwork has become more mobile and groups have taken their collaboration efforts online through the use of tools like Skype, Google Drive, and email, these same three characteristics matter just as much in creating the smartest teams. Perhaps most interesting, “emotion-reading mattered just as much for the online teams whose members could not see one another as for the teams that worked face to face.” Smart teams have the ability to not just read facial expressions in determining emotional states, but to also consider and remember how other people feel, know, and believe.


As teams are tasked with the responsibility of solving a variety of problems and issues in our society, “understanding what makes groups smart will help organizations and leaders in all fields create and manage teams more effectively."

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, teams, characteristics, committees, management

Mellori E. Lumpkin, Holland & Knight, Atlanta, GA


January 26, 2015

Speaking While Female

In their recent New York Times article entitled “Speaking While Female,” which is the second of four essays in a series on women at work, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant explore the reasons behind women’s silence in professional settings. Sandberg and Grant suggest that this silence may stem from a fear of backlash, or a desire to avoid being interrupted or shot down before finishing a pitch. They note that “[w]hen a woman speaks in a professional setting, she is walking a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.”


In particular, the article discussed some new studies that support these observations. For example, a study by Victoria L. Brescoll, a Yale psychologist, evaluating chief executives who voice their opinions more or less frequently, demonstrated that “[m]ale executives who spoke more often than their peers were rewarded with 10 percent higher ratings of competence. When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings.” This is just one of several studies mentioned in the article, but it shows that these notions about women speaking in the workplace are not paranoia—they are accurate depictions of the experience of women at work.


Grant and Sandberg suggest that ways to interrupt this gender bias include: (1) adopting practices that focus more on an idea and less on the speaker providing that idea; (2) submitting suggestions and solutions anonymously in certain instances (this is not conducive to all work settings); (3) compelling leaders to step up and encourage women to speak and be heard; and (4) increasing the number of women in leadership roles. 


The article then provides an anecdote recounting the last news conference President Obama held in 2014. This particular news conference made headlines because the President called on eight reporters—all women. Sandberg and Grant conclude the article by challenging readers to try this approach, i.e., offering women the floor to speak whenever possible.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, gender bias

Ariel E. Harris, Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP, Charlotte,NC 


December 22, 2014

When Talking about Bias Backfires

The New York Times recently published the first of a four-part series on “Women at Work” entitled “What Women Need to Know about Negotiating Compensation.” Authors Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg’s piece focuses on gender stereotypes in the workplace, noting that “[o]ur culture’s strong gender stereotypes extend beyond image to performance, leading us to believe that men are more competent than women.”

In particular, the article discussed a concerted effort from multiple disciplines to raise awareness about bias. However, several recent studies determined that creating awareness about bias actually increases bias, perhaps by causing people to think that this behavior is common and socially acceptable.

Grant and Sandberg suggest that communications should “reinforc[e] the idea that people want to conquer their biases and that there are benefits to doing so.” Further, the message should seek to support females to take initiative to obtain leadership roles and that “to motivate women at work, we need to be explicit about our disapproval of the leadership imbalance as well as our support for female leaders.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, gender bias, gender stereotypes

Emily Ruzic, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Birmingham, AL  


December 12, 2014

What Women Need to Know about Negotiating Compensation

Americanbar.org recently posted an article with tips from the ABA Gender Equity Task Force entitled, “What Women Need to Know about Negotiating Compensation.” The article suggests several useful tools to assist in negotiating for better compensation. 

First, you must understand that there are official and unofficial rules of the compensation process. Law firm compensation systems vary widely, and “the rules that matter are not all written in the formal procedures.” The basic information you must know about any law firm’s compensation process include the following:

  • Determine who makes the compensation decisions in your firm;

  • Understand what type of compensation system your firm uses whether open, closed, partially open, lockstep, formula-driven, etc.;

  • Understand the partnership structure of your firm;

  • Familiarize yourself with the list of factors evaluated during your firm’s compensation process e.g., origination credit, billable hours, leverage of your practice, client relationship team leadership, contributions to diversity, etc.;

  • Determine whether you have a mentor/sponsor participating in the process formally on your behalf;

  • Understand the diversity structure of the compensation committee. Research shows that having women and minorities on a compensation committee can counter biases that may play a role in compensation decisions; and

  • Know whether your firm encourages “lobbying” on your own behalf with members of the compensation committee or if it is better to enlist others to advocate for you.

Second, once you know what information you need, you must figure out how to get it. Some of the information is available in the partnership agreement, or other policy/procedure statements, but much of the information will need to be obtained by individuals you can trust to ask. That is why having a mentor/sponsor is essential.

After you gather all the information you need, turn to your action plan. You should assume that your firm requires a self-evaluation and reviews from others when determining attorney compensation. As you develop your self-evaluation, follow the instructions carefully, highlight your strengths and do not be shy, quantify the projects you’ve worked on, confront any setbacks you may have, use clear and direct language, and turn it in on time. Likewise, when meeting with the decision-makers, prepare the same way you would for a court hearing armed with all your helpful knowledge. The article suggests preparing an outline, boiling down key points, affirmatively addressing any issues or concerns, and making a specific “ask” during the meeting. 

Finally, remember to navigate the negotiating process carefully and prepare adequately because, as the article notes, “negotiating your own compensation can be tricky.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, negotiating compensation

Ariel E. Harris, Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP, Charlotte, North Carolina


December 3, 2014

Shrinking the Gender Wage Gap Will Take More Than Just Good Karma

Newly-appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made waves across the nation when he stated that women should not ask for pay raises. Instead of asking for pay raises, Nadella encouraged the women attendees at a technical conference he spoke at on October 9, 2014, to believe that “the system will give the right raises as someone goes along in their career.” Although Nadella later apologized, his remarks met substantial backlash. 

In a recent article published in Fortune, Lauren Stiller Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and Executive-in-Residence at the Boston College Center for Work & Family, critiqued Nadella, noting the deep-rooted nature of the gender wage gap. For example, Rikleen informed readers that research continues to evidence a bias in the workplace against mothers. Rikleen stated that statistical data establishes that “when women marry and have children, their average incomes drop; married men with children experience an increase in salary compared to their childless male counterparts.”

Rikleen proposes the following strategies, as a “starting point” for companies seeking to close the gender wage gap in their workplace:

  • Monitor assignments to “ensure that women have equal access to the internal informal networks.”

  • Analyze compensation data because “you cannot change what you do not measure.”

  • Hold managers accountable to established standards for salary increases.

  • “Train the workplace in unconscious bias” and “implement structural mechanisms to minimize its impacts.”

Keywords: women advocate, women lawyers, glass ceiling, gender gap, working mother

Hannah E. Bellanger, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., Minneapolis, MN


November 21, 2014

Overcome Your Fear of Networking!

In a recent article on Levo.com, Personal Branding Blog’s Heather Huhman discusses six ways to overcome your fear of networking. Acknowledging that networking “can be a scary thing to do” and “is a fear many people share,” this article provides six insightful tips for becoming a fearless networker.

Topics explored include using the magic of Twitter, attending fun networking events (WAC events for example!), hosting your own networking events, or even avoiding networking events altogether and attending workshops or speaker events to meet professionals in your industry. Another topic includes getting away from small talk and instead shifting “your focus to learning about the people you meet” and sparking “conversations with people by asking about their jobs, what they enjoy doing for fun, or why they like their jobs.”

Finally, Ms. Huhman explores the concept of “less is more” by encouraging forming one or two strong bonds with new people rather than collecting 20 business cards. By focusing on these steps, you can learn to overcome your fear of networking and learn to build “valuable relationships with people who can become friends and mentors.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, networking, networking tips, conquering fears

Tiffany J. deGruy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL


November 3, 2014

Gender Disparity Persists Despite More Women Lawyers in the Pipeline

The Law Firm Advancement Committee of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts recently asked “Where have all the women lawyers gone?” [login required] in an op-ed published by the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. As set forth in the article, women in law firms make up only 47 percent of associates, 38 percent of counsels, 29 percent of non-equity partners, and 17 percent of equity partners. Despite the once prevailing belief that there just needed to be enough women in the pipeline to make it to the top, it is now clear that there is something more to the issue than numbers.

The committee analyzed data from the top 25 law firms culled from an April survey by Lawyers Weekly of the 100 largest law firms. The committee found that this year, 65 percent of attorneys are men while only 35 percent are women. With respect to equity partners, approximately 80 percent are men and 20 percent are women. With respect to non-equity partners, the gap narrows, but remains with 57 percent men and 43 percent women.

According to the committee, addressing the gender disparity should be a priority for firms because clients demand diversity in their legal teams and because it “costs several hundred thousand dollars to replace an associate, not to mention the loss of institutional knowledge.” Diversity within firm management also is beneficial because it “decreases groupthink, deters corruption, increases shareholder value, and improves decision making.”

What, then, should firms do to address this issue? The committee has asked Lawyers Weekly to publish additional gender data that would require firms “to report gender disparities across multiple firm metrics: full-time/part-time status, associates, counsel, staff attorneys, non-equity partners, equity partners, governing and compensation committees, and top 10 rainmakers with comparison to the prior year.” According to the article, “a law firm’s willingness to share data on the advancement of women lawyers is, in and of itself, an indicator of the firm’s effectiveness in advancing female attorneys.” The committee also recommends that law firms train their employees to recognize and eliminate bias.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, criticism, women, performance reviews

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN


October 22, 2014

Criticism—Fear Not!

Navigant Consulting is a corporate sponsor of the Section of Litigation. Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services. This article should not be construed as an endorsement.

In her recent New York Times article, “Learning to Love Criticism,” author and career coach Tara Mohr explores recent study results that illustrate a stark contrast in the workplace performance reviews received by male versus female employees. Specifically, a large percentage of the reviews (76 percent) received by women included negative “personality” criticisms. This compared with only two percent of males’ supervisory feedback including negative personality criticisms. While these gaping differences in reviews warrant a deeper understanding, women nevertheless need a clear strategy on how best to proceed—without being distracted or discouraged from their pursuits.

Women, especially those in positions of authority and leadership, can and should expect an appreciable amount of criticism (both personal and professional) to be hurled their way. Women must equip themselves with the toolbox of skills that will allow them to persevere in an environment of enthusiastic praise or of strident criticism; in other words, women need to develop the “thick skins” that their male counterparts seem to have developed more easily.

Growing thick skins is no small feat because, historically, women have been socialized to be likeable, and are prone to take to heart what others may say or think about them in ways that may ultimately harm them. Mohr points out that “[f]or centuries, women couldn’t protect their own safety through physical, legal or financial means.” Instead, female survival strategies have often relied on cultivating “niceness” to curry favor with those in positions of power. While times have changed, women have inherited this psychological legacy of that history—one that continues to affect them today.

The truth is that distinctive and innovative work is often controversial work. We can help ourselves by remembering that all substantive work elicits both praise and criticism. However, when we internalize others’ opinions, we often suffer emotional highs and lows that dissuade us from putting ourselves at risk for more of the same.

What are some effective ways that we women can retrain our minds? Let’s consider a few ideas:

  • Identify another woman whose response to criticism you admire. This may allow you to conceptualize new responses for yourself. For example, in her book, Living History, Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying: “Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”
  • Interpret critical feedback as providing insight into the perspective of the giver rather than a personal reflection of your shortcomings. “Reframing” might allow better filtering of valuable feedback rather than an overreaction to information that is not really personalized.
  • Step back and seriously consider the merit of any criticisms you receive. Consider whether the remarks truly mirror what you believe about yourself. Even if a perceived criticism rings true for you, is it necessarily a negative trait that could hold you back from advancement? Could the remarks merely reflect a social stereotype of what women should or shouldn’t represent?

In the end, learning to respond appropriately to both criticism and praise is an important rite of passage. Learning to free ourselves from the tumultuous impacts that criticism has often imposed is a worthy goal that all women can embrace.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, criticism, women, performance reviews

Michaelyn Corbett, Ph.D., Navigant Economics, Chicago, IL


October 22, 2014

Do Female Attorneys Receive Same Compensation as Male Counterparts?

In a recent article on InsideCounsel.com, Ed Silverstein discusses Monster and WageIndicator Foundation's survey, which shows that females in the U.S. legal field earn 28.5 percent less than their male counterparts. Deborah Froling, a partner at Arent Fox and past president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, was not surprised by the findings, stating "We are not making the strides we would like. . . . I don't think things have changed all that much." Froling notes that while firms hire men and women at the same rate, the disparity sets in and women do not receive bonuses, salaries, or promotions at the same rate as men. Froling believes that women would benefit from sponsors who are involved in the compensation discussions, whether the sponsor is male or female.

Martin Kahanec, a visiting fellow at Harvard University's Labor and Worklife Program, also commented that equal opportunity is possible only if “employers enable men and women to reconcile their careers with family lives equitably. In doing so, companies will see happier employees and an increased retention of top talent.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, pay disparity, compensation discussions, equal opportunity

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN


September 16, 2014

The Power of Positive Thinking

In the article, "Happy Woman, Successful Rainmaker," Katy Goshtabi analyzes the role positive thoughts and self-reflection can have on helping female lawyers be happy and successful. According to an American Bar Foundation study cited in the article, the general satisfaction of lawyers after 13 years of practice is 3.92 on a scale of one to five. The article also cites a CNN report that found that lawyers are 3.6 times more prone to depression than the rest of society. Goshtabi contends that the profession, and society as whole, encourages people to believe that they should first focus on becoming accomplished and getting to the top and then later focus on being happy. She argues that it should be the other way around; we should focus first on being happy and then we can be accomplished. Goshtabi's goal in writing the article was to provide women with methods to "get grounded, centered and be optimal lawyers and happy women."  

One method the article focuses on is Byron Katie's self-inquiry process known as "The Work." Byron Katie believes that a person's thoughts are what cause their suffering. Female lawyers are often under a high amount of stress from juggling work, family, and friends. This stress not only impacts our ability to effectively manage our time but also leads to low self-confidence. "The Work" is about stopping and listening to our thoughts and determining what we are actually thinking or believing. Byron Katie advises that one gradually works this self-reflection into one's daily routine. For example, the article talks about waking up 20 minutes earlier and taking the time to close your eyes and think about a thought that is causing you stress. This reflection will help provide you clarity on the issue. The article cautions female lawyers from viewing this process as just "fluff" because this type of daily self-reflection will help shift your mindset and ability to produce results as a lawyer." Goshtabi notes that by being self-aware one can become a "better, more positive, more grateful and happy person" and "even a greater force in other areas such as the practice of law/rainmaking."

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, positive thoughts, self-reflection

Katie  Foley, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Minneapolis, MN


September 3, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 "50 Best Law Firms for Women"

Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers recently announced their 2014 “50 Best Law Firms for Women.” These firms are recognized for their “family-friendly policies, and business and career development initiatives that help women attorneys succeed and advance into the leadership pipeline.” According to the article, women at the equity partner, non-equity partner, and counsel levels has risen since 2007 as follows:




Equity partners



Non-equity partners






Read the full article and view the list of firms

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, working mother, law firms for women, family-friendly, equity partner

Suzanne Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN



September 3, 2014

Christine Lagarde: Effective Leadership at the IMF

Christine Lagarde has been at the helm of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the past three years. Since her appointment as the IMF’s managing director, she’s become a stabilizing motivator atop a board of all-male executives, dealt with the fallout from the resignation of the fund’s previous leader, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and weathered turmoil in the euro zone. In a recent Washington Post “On Leadership” column, Lagarde, perhaps unsurprisingly, theorizes that women tend to rise to positions of authority when situations become tough.

Prior to the IMF, Lagarde headed both the law firm Baker & McKenzie and the Finance Ministry of France. Effective leadership, she says, starts with confidence in one’s self. Acceptance of yourself and owning your identity leads to honesty and truthfulness, which leads to the ability to enable and empower people. She also adds that the best leadership advice she ever received was from her father, which she sums up pithily as: “Don’t let the bastards get you.”

Ultimately, Christine Lagarde aims to keep the IMF relevant and is working to foster a “less rigid” culture at the IMF, where differing opinions and open debates are encouraged. Lagarde also says getting a woman—or women—on the all-male board of IMF executive directors is paramount to a healthy culture within the walls of the IMF. Read the full interview with Lagarde.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, female leadership, all-male boards, Christine Lagarde, IMF

Ashley DeMinck, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN



July 31, 2014

Survival Tips for Networking Events

Networking is an essential tool for advancing in your legal career. In a recent blog post on Ms. JD, Susan Smith Blakely gives young women lawyers the following networking tips from Diane@EffectiveNetworking.com:

  • When walking up to a group of strangers, introduce yourself and ask to join their conversation.

  • Keep your handshake to two shakes.

  • Wear your name tag on the upper right side of your chest.

  • Bring supplies, including a pen, business cards, and breath mints.

  • Do not underdress. Being overdressed is better than being underdressed.

  • Begin your conversation by asking the other person a question about herself and be ready to deliver your "elevator speech."

  • Avoid alienating conversations about your personal relationships, sex, religion, and politics.

  • Engage the other person for three to five minutes and then move on, and make sure to watch body language for signals to know when to end the conversation.

  • Do not network hungry. Eat beforehand and do not hover over the food. If you do eat, avoid messy foods.

  • Do not get drunk. Do not drink and drive. Drink sparkling water to avoid becoming the next day's gossip.

  • Follow up the next day by email or handwritten note.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, networking events, etiquette

Suzanne Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Minneapolis, MN



July 16, 2014

Women Make Gradual Gains in BigLaw Leadership Roles

According to the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WLEF), female attorneys are making slow but steady gains in leadership roles at BigLaw firms. The group announced last month that 45 BigLaw firms met the criteria this year for the “gold standard” certification for female representation in firm leadership and compensation, as compared to 42 firms in 2013. The group credits this increase to firms’ continued commitment to mentoring and training their female lawyers on business development, a key to success in the industry.

To qualify for the “gold standard” certification, firms must meet at least four of the following six criteria: (1) women account for at least 20 percent of equity partners or a third of attorneys becoming equity partners during the past year, (2) women account for 10 percent of firm chairs and office heads, (3) women account for 20 percent of the top governance committee, (4) women account for 20 percent of the compensation committee, (5) women account for a quarter of practice group heads, and (6) women account for 10 percent of the top half of the firm’s most highly compensated partners.

An impressive seven firms met all six WLEF criteria: Ford & Harrison LLP, Fredrikson & Byron PA, Holland & Hart LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright, Reed Smith LLP, and Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP. Notably, Reed Smith and Shook Hardy have been in the “all six” category for the past four years straight. 

Other firms have made significant advances in women leadership roles in the past year. Cahill Gorden & Reindel LLP and Steptoe & Johnson LLP both made their first appearance among certified firms. Additionally, Sidley Austin LLP was recertified after having dropped off the list last year.

The WLEF findings also demonstrate that BigLaw firms have made gradual increases in several key criteria. The number of WLEF certified firms with women in at least 10 percent of firm chairs and office managing partner positions has risen to 88 percent as compared to 81 percent in 2011. The percentage of firms meeting the governance committee criteria has also increased since 2011 from 72 percent to 91 percent in 2014. Additionally, the percentage of firms meeting the compensation requirement has been inconsistent but managed to stand at 95 percent this year. 

The WLEF announcement coincided with the New York City Bar Association’s release of its annual firm diversity report showing the percentage of female partners at more than 130 participating firms rose to 19 percent in 2013.

This data clearly shows that firms have made a deliberate effort in increasing female representation in firm leadership roles. These advances, although gradual, are important. As noted by WLEF national chair and co-founder Elizabeth Tursi, “[a]t the end of the day, it could always be better, but the most important thing is they are making progress, and the firms are taking it seriously. Leadership clearly matters, comp matters, and having a critical mass of equity partners matters.”

Keywords: women leadership roles, women compensation, WLEF certification, women equity partners, firm diversity, BigLaw diversity

Susan E. Mulholland, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., Florham Park, NJ


June 26, 2014

It's About Gender Balance, Not Gender Diversity

It is an industry-accepted statistic that at law firms each year, women make up 50 to 60 percent of first-year associates. The trend continues that within the first couple of years, women attorneys begin to leave law-firm positions, not to leave the profession, but to work in corporate, government, or regulatory roles. This ultimately results in an absence of female equity partners (a mere 17 percent), especially at the top 100 U.S. law firms.

To overcome this predicament of the absence of women at the top, law firms have taken different approaches to retain women lawyers, from women’s initiatives to networking to mentoring programs. But not all approaches are equally effective and some efforts have had little to no substantive effect in increasing the percentage of women in the top ranks at law firms.

A different approach from women’s initiatives and networking taken by Gianmarco Monsellato, head of TAJ (the No. 5 law firm in France), is the “gender balance approach,” rather than a gender-diversity approach. His law firm is 50/50 gender-balanced across the board. His approach involves gender parity, where he personally ensures that assignments, promotions, and compensation are evenly awarded between men and women. Women receive equally tough cases and assignments as the men. Notably, unlike the recent developments at many U.S. law firms, Monsellato does not push gender-diversity initiatives or programs, rather he promotes “people on performance.” He believes that when someone works part time, a performance adjustment on that part-time basis must be made. He believes that when performance adjustment occurs, “maternity issues stop being an indicator” of performance and promotion.

Promotion based on performance and gender balance rather than diversity means that quality results stem not from “getting women to change their own behavior,” the focus of many women’s initiatives, but from men, like Monsellato, pushing for that balance. In her article, “How One Law Firm Maintains Gender Balance,” Avivah Wittenberg-Cox rightly notes that “[t]his kind of leadership on gender is rare, but spreading.” She continues that male leaders pushing for gender balance do so because it is good for business. This change most definitely comes from the tone at the top and all levels pushing for gender balance in all ranks. As Monsellato said recently at a conference to women lawyers: “You are not a minority. It’s about balance, not about gender diversity.”

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, women professionals, balance, gender diversity, partnership

Stefanie Wayco, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


June 25, 2014

Women Lawyers Encouraged to "Chart a Different Course" for Careers

In a series of three recent articles published in Legal by the Bay entitled “How Women Lawyers Can Chart a Different Course,” Kimberly Alford Rice, president of a business-development advisory firm focusing on legal services, offers 12 targeted tips for women to improve their client-development skills.

A number of Rice’s tips stress the importance of a woman attorney investing in herself. For example, Rice counsels women attorneys to engage a professional coach, which she deems a “critical resource,” to ensure that women lawyers set professional goals and remain accountable for meeting those goals. As another way of self-investment, Rice stresses the importance of women attorneys investing in their outward appearance to “[p]rojec[t] a professional, polished image,” which Rice states is “crucial to growing your rainmaker status.” Encouraging women not to fall into the “I can do it all” mentality, Rice also asks lawyers to examine how they are spending time outside of work to identify personal tasks to “outsource” so that woman attorneys can create more time for client development, without impacting time spent with family or billable hours. Rice further challenges women to use the same advocacy skills they’ve developed in advocating for their clients, children, and family to advocate for themselves by “envision[ing] yourself as a client of you.”

Rice’s article presents tips that encourage women attorneys to, at times, be nonconformists. “[Y]our career transcends your job,” says Rice, who challenges women to ensure they are provided an opportunity to “carv[e] their own niche,” sometimes by radical means such as changing firms. Rice further counsels women to consider creative solutions to hurdles in their professional success, such as working from home one day per week, if doing so would increase productivity by avoiding an extended commute. Women attorneys are directed to challenge the status quo because Rice advises that “everything is negotiable,” from dealings with prospective clients to negotiations with a prospective employer.

Rice recognizes the hurdles and struggles faced by women in the legal profession and notes that “[a]s women, we have always had to fight harder, be more resilient, and press more than some of our counterparts.” Despite this, Rice encourages women lawyers to “forge on to meet [their] professional goals.”

Keywords: litigation, women advocate, women lawyers, client development, rainmaking

Hannah E. Bellanger, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., Minneapolis, MN


June 4, 2014

Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, at 1 p.m. Eastern time, the ABA Litigation Section Woman Advocate Committee will be presenting a Roundtable entitled “Learning to Lead:  What Really Works for Women in Law.” During this telephonic presentation, participants can sit comfortably at their own desks while listening to Gindi Vincent discuss leadership techniques that help women in all fields develop in all aspects of their careers. During this program, Vincent will discuss theories from the book and share practical tips and tricks for leadership success. 

In addition to authoring the book Learning to Lead: What Works for Women in Law, which was published by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, Vincent is president of the Women’s Energy Network, and counsel at ExxonMobil. She has over 16 years of experience as an environmental attorney, previously advising energy companies on complex environmental challenges at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman (and beginning her career in Fort Worth at Cantey & Hanger).

You can register for this program here. In addition, you can email your questions either in advance or during the presentation to meeting cochair Robin Luce Herrmann.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, leadership, roundtable, Gindi Vincent

Sara Dionne, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, CA


June 4, 2014

WAC Work-Life Management Subcommittee Book Project

The Woman Advocate Committee’s Work-Life Management Subcommittee is currently working on a book project tentatively titled The Power of Our Stories: Lawyers Managing Work and Life Along the Road to Success. The subcommittee is looking for volunteers to help collect, track, and edit essays from contributors all over the country. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Teresa Beck, Shayna Steinfeld, or Jacqueline Bushwack.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, work-life balance, book project

Sara Dionne, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, CA


May 30, 2014

Female Lawyers Still Struggle to Bridge Gender Gap

According to a Wall Street Journal article, female lawyers continue to struggle to bridge the gender gap, meaning that they have been unable to excel in the legal field in a manner equal to that of their male contemporaries. Such inequality persists despite the increasing number of female lawyers and judges in the United States. Women attorneys continue to lag behind their male counterparts in the areas of billable rates, the number of equity partners at the 200 top-grossing U.S. law firms, and compensation received for services rendered.

The reasons routinely provided for such inequity include the “lack of business-development opportunities, work-life balance issues, and attrition.” However, a recent review by Sky Analytics helps repudiate such pretexts; it shows that female attorneys bill at lower rates than male counterparts with comparable experience and rank.

Although cracks in the glass ceiling highlight its lack of structural integrity, female lawyers should not be deceived into thinking that the fight for equality is at an end. Thus, persistent effort is necessary to ensure that we can move toward equality, not only before the law, but in the legal field as well.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, inequity, glass ceiling, gender gap, female lawyers, billable rates, equity partnership, compensation, attrition, work-life balance, business development

Lane L. Marmon, Rutkin, Oldham & Griffin, L.L.C., Westport, CT


May 28, 2014

Women Lawyers Combat Institutional Bias with Rainmaking

In a recent Bizwomen.com article titled “Female ‘Rainmakers’ Are Boosting the Bottom Line at Law Firms,” Gina Hall noted how women lawyers are increasingly networking amongst themselves and drumming up outside clients in response to internal firm bias which results in white male senior partners transferring their clients to white male junior partners. In a study by Forrest Briscoe of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, Briscoe attributed this pattern to “institutional bias” and not to a “conscious decision based on discrimination.” Briscoe believes it is a “matter of people’s ‘comfort zones,’ where we tend to gravitate toward people who are more like us or who remind us of our younger selves.” Accordingly, when women are confronted with this internal “institutional bias,” they turn to networking outside of the firm, building impressive client lists.

While the study recognizes that “rainmaking” is risky because it is non-billable, the study also concludes that law firms could benefit by encouraging this networking and by hiring more women skilled at landing clients.  According to the study, “[s]upporting diverse junior partners by enhancing their rainmaking abilities may yield a double payoff in terms of the firm’s overall revenue, as well as diversity goals.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, rainmaking, clients, institutional bias, networking

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


May 27, 2014

Rejecting Office Housework Is Hard but Necessary

Saying yes to seemingly harmless, menial tasks such as ordering food for a group or taking notes during a meeting can hurt a professional woman’s career, according to University of California Hastings College of Law Professor Joan C. Williams.  In a Washington Post column, “Sticking Women with the Office Housework,” Williams discusses her new book, What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know, coauthored by Rachel Dempsey. In the book, Williams and Dempsey extol women executives and lawyers to be bold and say no to the “office housework”—the administrative tasks and undervalued assignments that are disproportionately asked of them. 

In interviewing women for their book, the authors found that, even if a woman’s job description is far up the ladder from tasks such as bringing in cupcakes for a colleague’s birthday or answering phones in a conference room, they are still commonly asked. And they argue that  always agreeing to take on the office housework not only undercuts a woman’s authority but it takes time she could be using on something more valuable. The book also cautions women to be wary of the “political tightrope” they walk in deciding when and how to say no while still being regarded as a team player.

Another type of office housework that is just as undervalued, according to Williams, is when women are given committee assignments that men do not want or that are not highly rewarded by the organization. While important, women need to be diligent to ensure that their hard work in these roles is being noticed and rewarded because these are not the sorts of assignments that will necessarily lead to recognition or promotion.  In the article, Williams recognizes that getting on the right committee can be fruitful but she cites a sobering study that indicates that 70 percent of women lawyers surveyed reported having either no women or only one woman on their firms’ compensation committee. 

So how is a woman to avoid a disproportionate share of the office housework without seeming ungrateful or worse? Williams provides some examples of snappy comebacks, including one woman lawyer who responded, “I’m not sure you want someone with my hourly rate making coffee.” Her other suggestions include sitting far from the phone in a meeting, setting up a rotation so that you are only one of many people responsible for taking notes at meetings, or deflecting the question by suggesting someone else better suited to the job—a junior associate for example. Williams refers to this last tactics as “gender judo”—dodging “backlash by doing something masculine (saying no) in a feminine way (being nice and showing that you’re a good ‘team player’).” In order for women to reach the coveted positions of influence, such an approach is essential to “get women out of office housework and onto projects that really matter, both to them and their companies,” Williams says.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, "office housework"

Allison Kernisky, Holland & Knight, Miami, FL


April 29, 2014

Women Run Only Seven of the Largest 100 U.S. Law Firms

According to a recent Law360 article, women hold top leadership positions in only seven of the largest 100 U.S. law firms.  These seven female leaders serve as chairman, managing partner, or co-managing partner in the following firms:





Susan Murley


Co-Managing Partner

Lisa "Lee" Schreter

Littler Mendelson

Chairman of the Board

Regina Pisa

Goodwin Procter


Kim Koopersmith

Akin Gump


Jerry Clements

Locke Lord


Elizabeth Sharrer

Holland & Hart

Firm Chair

Kimberly Johnson

Quarles & Brady

Firm Chair

In October of this year, two other women will be added to the list: Jami Wintz McKeon will become the firm chair of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Therese Pritchard will become the chair of Bryan Cave LLP.

Experts say that the low rate of women law firm leaders is a product of firms failing to provide adequate mentorship and advancement opportunities.  There is also a lingering misconception that women lack the “confidence or aggression to tackle the caseload or client development demands to get to the top spot, much less the responsibilities of the top spot itself.”  To break down these barriers, Ms. Pritchard, who will be the first woman chairman at Bryan Cave, suggests that law firms need to create more opportunities for women, including flexible work schedules and equal access to client development opportunities.  Women must also confront the “old boys’ network,” which requires mentorship and aggressively pursuing a “rainmaker” practice. 

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, leadership positions

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN



April 25, 2014

Women Lawyers in Corporate America

Elizabeth Olson’s article in the New York Times outlines the continued gradual progress of women lawyers in corporate America. In 1979, CCH Inc., an information service provider, promoted Mary Ann Hynes to the top legal job, marking the first time in history that a woman held the role of corporate counsel. Within two decades, Fortune 500 companies had 44 female general counsel; this year, the number of female general counsel grew to 106.

2013 did, however, mark the first dip in female corporate counsel ranks, with three fewer women holding top legal posts than in 2012. While women continue to move into top legal positions, Olson notes that women in the legal field should still proceed with caution. Outside of the top 500 companies, women hold only 17 percent of the top legal jobs at companies ranked 501–1000. To further add insult to injury, outside of corporate America, the number of female partners at American law firms has remained static for the past five years at 19 percent.  

Women have broken some of the toughest glass ceilings, however. Four of the country’s 17 largest corporations have women in the top legal position: Wal-Mart Stores, Honeywell International, FedEx, and Lockheed Martin. In addition, five women are now leading the law departments of aerospace and defense companies, traditionally an all-male field.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, corporate America

Cassie Hanson, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN



April 22, 2014

Law360 Names Top 25 Ceiling Smashers

Law360 recently announced its 2014 “Ceiling Smashers”—25 U.S.-based law firms with the highest percentage of female partners. According to the 2014 Glass Ceiling Report, which surveyed more than 380 firms, women comprise just 21 percent of partners at law firms despite representing 43 percent of non-partner attorneys. At the Ceiling Smasher firms, however, women represent 29 percent of partners. At the top 10 Ceiling Smashers, women represent at least 33 percent of partners.

Adelson Testan Brundo Novell & Jimenez and Fragomen, Del Ray, Bersen & Loewy LLP, both workers’ rights firms, top the Ceiling Smasher list with women representing 47 percent of their partners. Littler Mendelson, PC, an employment law firm and Ceiling Smasher, has the best female partner percentage of the firms ranked in the top 100 largest law firms in the U.S. According to the Law360 article, the Ceiling Smashers generally tend to be smaller firms and employment law firms.

Congratulations to the 2014 Ceiling Smashers:







Adelson Testan




Fragomen Del Rey




Coblentz Patch




von Briesen




Cassiday Schade




Cohen Milstein




Miller Nash




Frankfurt Kurnit




Kitch Drutchas




Fredrikson & Byron




Davis Graham




Littler Mendelson




Best Best




Verrill Dana




Jackson Kelly




Cades Schutte




Sutherland Asbill




Shipman & Goodwin




Jackson Lewis




Thompson Coe




Garvey Schubert




Lewis Brisbois








Ogletree Deakins




Quarles & Brady



Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, female partners

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


April 21, 2014

Challenges to Female Wages and Career Advancement

In the article, “Female Lawyers over 30 Earning 25% less than the Men,” Lottie O’Connor analyzes the potential reasons behind the statistic that while women in their early twenties make 30 percent more than their male counterparts, by their mid-thirties they earn 25 percent less than men their male colleagues. O’Connor notes that the lack of work/life balance is at the core of the issue. A total 96 percent of the female lawyers surveyed stated that work/life balance was central to their sense of career satisfaction. However, this work/life balance is a challenge in the legal industry. All of the lawyers surveyed for the article indicated that “unrealistic and unmaintainable hours” were the primary impediment to their future in the industry. The hours and time commitment are even steeper for those who plan on making partner. After the recent economic recession the path to becoming partner takes longer and lot of female attorneys are faced with choosing between having a family or making partner. Some firms have flexible work arrangements for working mothers; however, O’Connor cites one ex-lawyer who left the industry when she had kids as saying, “no-one I know has been able to actually negotiate any sort of flexible work arrangement, so either has gone back full time, or given up law altogether.”

The article also indicates that men are also disenchanted with the legal industry. Of those surveyed, 26 percent of men rated “[g]reater opportunities for flexible working” as “crucial for their future careers.” The article indicates this might be a result of a generational preference. Younger generations, such as Generation Y, prefer a progressive way of working and see little appeal in lifetime job loyalty and job with “endless long hours and zero flexibility.” The article indicates that while many young lawyers may be attracted to the training and financial benefits of a legal job, they may not want to continue to work in the legal industry in the long term. The article concludes with a warning to law firms. O’Connor argues that firms will need to look at “working practices and incentives,” like other corporations, to prevent a “mass exodus of promising young lawyers” only a few years after they start.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, work/life balance, wages

––Katie Foley, Law Student at William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN


March 26, 2014

A Solution for Women Lawyers Re-Entering the Workforce

While at the entry level there is, on average, a 50/50 gender split at many large law firms, this equilibrium does not last long. This is because women tend to leave the profession after a few years to raise children and/or deal with other family obligations, or simply because their chosen firm was not the right fit. The result is a dearth of women attorneys at the partnership level. This is true even though many female lawyers eventually attempt to re-enter the legal profession. The problem is that these women face an uphill battle to “fit in” upon re-entry, both with regard to law firm compensation and advancement structure. Thus, partnership and other leadership positions are left to be filled by men.

One solution to this problem facing many of these highly qualified women attorneys is the OnRamp Fellowship Program (the Fellowship). As stated on its website, the Fellowship program is “a re-entry platform that matches experienced women lawyers returning to the profession with law firms for a one-year, paid training contract.” By facilitating the re-entry of talented women lawyers into the legal profession, the Fellowship hopes to reduce the gender disparity in leadership positions at law firms. At the same time, law firms benefit by gaining access to an untapped resource of highly-talented and motivated lawyers.

Fellowship founder Caren Ulrich Stacy notes that other companies from a variety of sectors, including Goldman Sachs, Sara Lee, and JP Morgan, have been supporting this type of “Returnship” program for years. At the Fellowship, with the help of legal talent experts and a number of law firms, Stacy asserts that they are “building their own version of the ‘Returnship model’ in the legal profession.” To help ensure successful placements, the Fellowship applicants are thoroughly screened and then matched with firms that share their values and consider their attributes/traits as essential for advancement. If selected for the Fellowship, lawyers are paid a one-year $125,000 stipend by the firm and are also provided career-development support through: (1) unlimited access to online CLE; (2) expert training in negotiations, business development, and leadership; and (3) individual coaching by top-notch legal-career experts.

Upon completion of the one-year contract, the fellows may interview at the assigned firm if there is an available position, or use the firm as a reference for other employment opportunities. Stacy contends that “this type of re-entry platform allows the professionals and the organizations to engage in a ‘try-out’ to determine fit, while also giving the professionals a chance to strengthen skills.”

As the Fellowship is now in its pilot stage, only four large firms are currently accepting applications, and only within select offices and practice groups—ranging from intellectual property, corporate, tax, healthcare, to litigation and global finance. That being said, once the pilot program is underway, it is likely other employers will be invited to participate (the website directs interested law firms or legal organizations to contact Stacy directly at the Fellowship). For a lawyer to be eligible for the Fellowship, she must have three or more years of law firm experience and be admitted. The application process includes submitting an application that involves the completion of a series of online skills, personality, and values assessments, taking a writing assessment, writing a personal essay, and participating in an interview. There is also a $250 assessment fee. Once the program is fully underway with more law firms participating, it is the hope that the initiative will not only lead to the re-entry of women lawyers into the workplace, but will create a group of professionals with upgraded skills and experience who are motivated to fill the now male-dominated leadership positions at law firms and ultimately improve the legal profession as a whole.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, Onramp, fellowship, workplace re-entry, women professionals, returnship, fellowship, pilot program, gender diversity, partnership

Stefanie Wayco, Esq., Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


March 21, 2014

Expert Advice on How to "Make It Rain" as a Female Attorney

According to a recent survey of the largest 200 law firms conducted by the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), female lawyers still lag behind men in achieving equity partnership and in obtaining leadership positions generally. A significant number of these firms viewed women’s perceived lack of business development or rainmaking abilities as the primary reason for the disparity. More specifically, female attorneys at law firms face both institutional and personal obstacles in becoming rainmakers that their male counterparts do not. NAWL points out, for example, that on an institutional level, women do not get their fair share of credit for new business and are also less likely to inherit business from retiring partners/senior colleagues. On a personal level, women tend to focus more on billable hours and just getting their work done so they can get home to their families then developing business. As a result of these findings, experts on the topic, including NAWL President Deborah Froling and Karen Kahn, managing partner at Threshold Advisors, suggest five steps female attorneys can take to reach their full rainmaking potential.

Build Your Network Early
As a young attorney, you should start developing contacts early in your career. While you may need a few years to hone your legal skills before you can focus on business development, keeping up with your contacts from college, law school, and beyond will help build a network that will provide potential business opportunities down the road. It is important to keep in mind that building relationships and developing a network is “not a race, but a marathon.”

Consider Your End Goal
You should envision what an ideal career would look like for you, and then work backwards from that objective. For example, consider whether you seek a firm environment or would prefer to go in-house and/or whether you are interested in travel or want to be able to work from home. It is also important to identify your strengths, e.g., are you comfortable independently “working a room” or would rather network as a team. Ultimately, there is no one way to become a rainmaker but rather, you have to find the path that works best for you.

Find a Niche
If you are able to develop an expertise in a particular practice area, you will be more successful in business development because you will likely build relationships with contacts you see on a regular basis and leverage their industry-specific knowledge. To that end, you should attend networking events where individuals from your chosen niche industry might be present. Additionally, you need to grow more comfortable with mixing business with pleasure. Friends and community acquaintances can be an incredible source of business and women often shy away from utilizing these personal relationships.

Get Out of the Office
Women tend to want to focus getting their work done at the office so they can get home at the end of the workday and be with their spouses and children. However, to be a successful rainmaker, you have to be willing to get out of the office and give up some of your personal life to attend industry conferences and networking events as well as to socialize with and entertain your clients or prospective clients. The latter, however, comes with one caveat—always stay true to yourself. You should invite clients to events that you are genuinely interested in and comfortable doing, e.g., theater vs. a sporting event. If you attempt to fake it, your client will likely be aware and your efforts could backfire. In sum, marketing should be a priority and become part of your everyday routine like exercising or brushing your teeth.

Push for Changes at Your Firm
While you need to take responsibility for your own business development efforts, there are changes that can be made on the institutional end to assist in these efforts. For example, firms should ensure there is a fair process in place for inheriting client work as partners retire (as aforementioned, men benefit from inherited business more than their female counterparts). The same is true for how firms distribute and recognize credit for business. Although many partners may work on a pitch together, firms often only allow one billing attorney to get credit. Under such circumstances, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil—and that squeaky wheel is more often than not a male attorney. You can effectuate these changes by using your firm’s women’s initiative groups to analyze the firm’s own data on who is inheriting work and getting credit and brainstorming ideas on how to make the systems fairer. Firms should also understand that it is necessary to implement such policy changes to retain talent and stay competitive in their field.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, rainmaking, marketing, networking, female rainmakers

Susan E. Mulholland, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., Florham Park, NJ


March 17, 2014

Making Mind-Wandering Part of Your Multitasking Routine

Multitasking—the much sought-after skill that enables us to simultaneously fulfill multiple roles and responsibilities throughout the course of a single day—may actually be stifling our creativity. The Wall Street Journal blog “The Juggle” reports that this is because the working memory and executive control required to multitask inhibit the “cognitive processes” that give rise to “light-bulb moments.” The blog cites a 2012 study conducted at the University of Illinois, Chicago titled “Working Memory Capacity, Attentional Focus, and Problem Solving,” which argues that when we are too focused, the “diffuse, open-thinking” needed to develop “new approaches and novel connections” is stymied, 

So multitaskers, pay attention: You must now make time in your daily routine to daydream, exercise, and let your mind wander. For an inspirational how-to, check out WSJ’s “Tactics to Spark Creativity.” Research-supported suggestions include performing simple, routine tasks, gazing at the color green, tackling problems at off-peak times, taking a walk, having a drink, watching funny videos, and the infamous looking out the window.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, multitasking, creativity

Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI


March 17, 2014

Survey Reveals Little Progress in Advancement of Women Lawyers

The latest survey conducted by the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL®) on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms (the Survey or Study) reveals little progress in the advancement of women at the nation’s largest 200 firms. More specifically, the Study found that the largest percentage of women, namely 64 percent, continue to occupy the lowest positions in firms, namely, that of staff attorney, while only 17 percent occupy the highest, or equity partnership positions. These percentages have not changed significantly since 2012, when the Survey reported 70 percent of women were employed as firm staff attorneys, while only 15 percent had made it to the equity partner level.

The goals of the NAWL Survey, which has been conducted annually since 2006, are to assess the progress, or lack thereof, of female attorneys in obtaining leadership positions in large law firms, identify obstacles that hinder this progress, and provide benchmarking statistics for firms to use to measure their own progress. The Survey was described by NAWL as “the only national study of the nation’s 200 largest law firms, which annually tracks the progress of women lawyers at all levels of private practice, including the most senior positions, and collects data on firms as a whole rather than from a subset of individual lawyers.”

Ultimately, in making the following findings, the 2014 Survey concluded that, overall, little progress has been made in the advancement of women at these firms in the areas of compensation, leadership, rainmaking, and equity partnership:

  • There continues to be a disproportionately low number of women who advance into the highest ranks of large firms, notwithstanding the steady output of female law school graduates (more than 40 percent) since the mid-1980s.

  • Firms favor the lateral hiring of male over female equity partners, with about 66 percent    of all new male equity partners being recruited laterally and only about 50 percent of new female equity partners being recruited laterally.

  • Men continue to receive more credit for rainmaking and client revenue than women. For example, among the nation’s 100 largest law firms, women are credited for roughly 80 percent of the client billings credited to men.

Indeed, the current statistics cited by NAWL did not vary significantly from when the first Survey was released in 2006. NAWL identified possible reasons for the lack of promotion and continued pay disparity as failure of formal succession planning, which has been recommended as a way for firms to prepare women for future leadership roles, and the absence of females in law firm governing and compensation committees.

The Study further concluded that the surveyed firms blame the lack of female promotion to equity partnership on perceived lack of business development and high rate of attrition, with the former being viewed as the greatest impediment. This is true, although these named impediments are, to some extent, within the control of a firm (e.g., many firms create inordinate demands for billable hours, do not provide equal access to business opportunities, do not promote women into leadership roles, and do not make transparent the criteria or process of promotion to partnership).

Of further note is that a large majority of firms declined to share information regarding their compensation of men versus women lawyers, including 33 firms that participated last year. NAWL suggested that this failure to share data was, in and of itself, an indicator of the firm’s effectiveness in advancing women lawyers. NAWL remarked that the explanation for this might be benign (e.g., firms are much more leanly staffed), but that another explanation was that those firms declining to participate in the 2013 Survey were generally less interested in the subject of advancing women lawyers.

NAWL concluded that the trend of little or no progress in the advancement of female lawyers will not change unless and until the country’s largest firms make a concerted effort to ensure that change occurs. Firms can accomplish this by implementing more equitable policies and practices with regard to compensation, client origination credit, and female promotion to equity partnership and leadership positions. In doing so, the firms will be helping themselves. Indeed, NAWL research has found that there is a direct correlation with the rate of success of individual women lawyers with client satisfaction and the overall success of law firms.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, NAWL 2014 Survey, promotion, gender pay disparity

Angela A. Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


February 19, 2014

Motivating Women for the Leadership Process

In a February 2014 article on The Glass Hammer, Lois Frankel examines the need to increase the percentage of women in high-level positions in companies and politics. Currently, only 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and the 113th Congress saw a record number of women elected at 20 percent.

Frankel argues that we’ve reached a “turning point”—where people who have power no longer know how to use it to solve current problems, and won’t share that power with people who could help them. After noting the low statistics cited above, and referring to studies that have consistently found a correlation between high-level female executives and business success, Frankel argues that women hold the solution to this problem. For instance, women exceed men in four of the five facets of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. Furthermore, motivating today’s workforce requires a skillset largely possessed by women: encouragement, listening, collaboration, transparency, giving tough messages in tender ways, and enlisting support.

But how do we get women into these high-level positions to influence change? Frankel points out that neither politics nor corporate life are particularly hospitable to women because the burden of providing day-to-day care for children and aging parents more likely falls on a woman’s shoulders. Frankel states that the problem is convincing women why they want these roles. Frankel suggests that corporations must develop in-house policies and programs that provide employees, regardless of gender, with choices that enable them to make a meaningful contribution at work without sacrificing their personal lives.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, high-level positions, leadership

Cassie Hanson, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Minneapolis, MN


February 13, 2014

"Flexibility Stigma: The Unspoken Problem Facing Working Women and Men"

In the January 2014 Glasshammer.com article, “Flexibility Stigma: The Unspoken Problem Facing Working Women and Men,” readers encounter a re-hashing of the well-known stigma associated with taking advantage of flexible work options. To that extent, the article is not groundbreaking. However, the article revealed interesting findings about the particular circumstances under which managers are willing to grant their employees flexible work schedules.

In discussing the stigma, the article references the June 2013 study, “Ask and Ye Shall Receive? The Dynamics of Employer-Provided Flexible Work Options and the Need for Public Policy,” wherein Professor Victoria Brescoll concluded that managers are most likely to grant flexible work schedules to men in high-status jobs who request flextime to pursue career advancement opportunities. This is as opposed to women who, regardless of job status, are unlikely to be granted flextime for either family or career reasons. Brescoll reached this conclusion by studying managers’ reactions to flextime requests under varied circumstances, e.g. whether the request was made by a man or woman, in a high-status, managerial job or lower status, hourly wage jobs, and whether the request was for childcare or professional development classes. Brescoll commented that “women workers, regardless of their status or reason for their request, face a gendered wall of resistance to their requests for flextime, while men face status-specific resistance.”

Yet, recent studies also confirm that both men and women are stigmatized when requesting flextime, because they are viewed as less committed to their work and their output is perceived to be compromised. Such beliefs appear to be unfounded, based on Catalyst’s 2013 study “The Great Debate: Flexibility vs. Face Time – Busting the Myths Behind Flexible Work Arrangements,” which found that face time does not lead to top performance outcomes.

These studies would tend to support an effort to de-stigmatize flexible work options for both genders. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, a job search service that helps professionals find flexible jobs, is hoping to do just that by highlighting accolades of companies that are flextime friendly. Ultimately, Fell adds, “women who request flexible work options need to focus on how it will benefit the company . . . not on how it will benefit them personally.” For women in particular, flexible work options often mean the difference between being able to continue working after having children, or giving up their careers.

Finally, the article concludes that working women and men can do nothing “to eliminate the stigma they face when seeking out and attaining flexible work arrangements; it’s not their mess to clean up.” Rather, the onus is on employers to be willing to be as transparent as possible by creating formal flexible work time programs that outline all options available to employees, thereby dispelling the cloudiness associated with these work options.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, work-life balance, flexible work schedule, stigma, research

Claudia D. Hartleben, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Washington, D.C.


February 12, 2014

WAC Member Obtains Preliminary Injunction for Female Student

Woman Advocate Committee member Abbe F. Fletman, along with Women’s Law Project attorney Terry L. Fromson, were successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction requiring Line Mountain School District in Herndon, PA, to allow seventh-grader Audriana Beattie to be part of the Line Mountain all-male wrestling program. Beattie has wrestled competitively, against boys and girls, since she was in third grade. The suit was filed against the Line Mountain School District in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in October 2013 saying the district was discriminating on the basis of sex in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) of the state constitution. “We are very pleased that Audriana will have the opportunity to pursue her passion for wrestling on her school’s wrestling team,” said Terry Fromson of the Women’s Law Project. “Audriana is looking forward to continuing to practice and compete with the team, something she is very good at and has been practicing for four years,” said Abbe Fletman of Flaster/Greenberg PC. The Beatties obtained a temporary restraining order on November 1, 2013, initially requiring Line Mountain to allow Audriana to wrestle until the preliminary injunction motion was determined.

For more information about this ruling, see the court’s order.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, preliminary injunction

Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Sacramento, CA


January 23, 2014

Second-Generation Gender Bias and How to Confront It

In a recent article for The Glass Hammer, Nancy Monson, a career and health coach, details ways to subvert what has been coined the “second-generation gender bias.”

Today women hold more managerial positions than ever before and have made serious headway in the gender-equality in the workplace movement. That being said, women have been unable to make significant headway in the higher echelons of major corporations. For example, only four percent of Fortune 1000 company CEOs are women, according to Catalyst, an organization devoted to career development, business, and diversity in the workplace.

Second-generation gender bias refers to hidden, subtle, and silent bias that persists where women have made career progress, but still lack in the higher ranks. It does not require any intent to exclude women from the higher ranks and there is not necessarily a specific, direct, or immediate harm from the bias. Instead, the author notes, citing to a recent Harvard Business Review blog, second generation bias creates a context—akin to ‘something in the water’—in which women fail to thrive or reach their full potential.”

The author notes various ways second generation bias can manifest, including a failure to consider women for higher ranking leadership roles and compensation disparity.

Strikingly, the author points out that many women may be unaware that they are subject to any second generation gender bias. Indeed, an August 2013 Gallup Poll of 1,000 men and women nationwide found that only 15 percent of women responded that they had experienced bias.

This said, the author contends that second-generation gender bias can be tackled. Specifically, Ms. Monson suggests four ways to subvert second-generation gender bias:

  1. Recognize that hidden or stereotypical gender bias exists in the workplace;
  2. Ask for more;
  3. Give up the need to be liked rather than being professional; and
  4. Champion other women.

The author explains that once women recognize that gender bias does exist in the workplace, women will be less willing to accept it and will feel empowered to push themselves. The author suggests that women should then ask for and negotiate raises and benefits like men or risk making up to $500,000 less than male counterparts over the course of their career. Along the same lines, the author also contends that women should nominate themselves for leadership opportunities, ask for more responsibility, and share their achievements and accolades. Finally, the author emphasizes that women should support other women, and find other women and men to support them, whether it be a colleague, mentor, or life coach.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, women professionals, second-generation gender bias; pay disparity

Stefanie Wayco, Esq., Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY


January 8, 2014

Roundtable on Pay Disparities

On December 11, 2013, the Woman Advocate Committee, in conjunction with the Mass Torts Committee and the Commission on Women in the Profession, hosted a roundtable discussing strategies and solutions for addressing and eliminating long-standing pay disparity in compensation between male and female attorneys practicing in law firms. The roundtable was led by Roberta D. Liebenberg and Stephanie A. Scharf.

The speakers first discussed some keys to closing the gap in pay disparity. These include building transparency into the compensation process, including a critical mass of diverse members on the compensation committee, rethinking how billing and allocation credits are distributed, requiring diversity on pitch and related business development teams, getting firms to set concrete benchmarks to evaluate patterns in the number of partners moving into equity partnership, and implementing training for attorneys involved in compensation and evaluation.

The speakers also examined ways that law firm clients can contribute to reducing pay disparities between male and female attorneys. These contributions include demanding that pitch teams include female partners and associates, engage law firms in discussions concerning how they are approaching billing and origination credits, and requesting hours, billing, and committee data broken down by gender.

Carol Frohlinger also contributed to the roundtable by discussing the topic of negotiation. This discussion included explanation of second generation stereotypes, meaning the unintentional disadvantaging of women based on stereotypes of how women should act or workplace policies that are neutral on their face, but disadvantage women. Ms. Frohlinger encouraged women to advocate on their behalf and recognize that they need to negotiate for themselves.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, pay disparities

Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Sacramento, CA


January 8, 2014

Generational Shift at the Workplace

In the article, “Will Millennial Men Change the Workplace?” Vivia Chen challenges the notion that “millennial men” (born roughly between 1980 and early 2000) will shake up the workplace. Joan Williams, a law professor at the University of California at Hastings, argues that millennials and particularly millennial men are pushing for a different work structure. According to Williams, a generational shift is taking place as the mindset of upper-level management is increasingly out of sync with younger men who want schedules that accommodate family needs. As a result, Williams claims that millennial men are beginning to do what women have done for decades: find work that allows greater flexibility for better work-family balance. Lawyers, for example, are leaving Big Law in favor of more flexible career paths.

Chen challenges Williams’ conclusion, noting that while Big Law pays “lip service” to work-life balance, firms are not actually changing the basic work structure. And, according to Chen, Big Law does not need to as firms—and corporations—are flooded with talented applicants ready to do the work.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, millennials, work structure

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


January 8, 2014

NALP Report Shows Decline of Female Associates

The National Association of Law Professionals (NALP) recently released its annual report on diversity. The report examines race and gender information for more than 110,000 lawyers nationwide. Some key findings of the report include:

  • Associates: The number of female associates has fallen to 44.79 percent of associates, a reduction from the peak of 45.66 percent in 2009. Minority associate numbers increased to a total of 20.93 percent, although minority women associate numbers show little improvement since 2009.

  • Partners: The number of minority and female partners inched up slightly in 2013. Minority partners accounted for 7.10 percent of big firm partners in 2013 (up from 6.71 percent in 2012). Women partners accounted for 20.22 percent of big firm partners in 2013 (up from 19.91 percent in 2012). NALP found minority women partners to be the most underrepresented group at the partnership level, accounting for only 2.26 percent of partners.

  • Overall: The overall numbers of all female attorneys stayed nearly stagnant, increasing only one-tenth of one percent. This number is lower than the number of women attorneys in 2009. Overall numbers of minority lawyers increased by .45 percent, now making up 13.36 percent of law firm attorneys.

NALP’s Executive Director, James Leipold, expressed concern over the trends in female attorney numbers, noting that more women seem to be “opting out of the BigLaw scene right from the start.”

Read more discussion of the NALP report.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, NALP, diversity

Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Sacramento, CA


November 26, 2013

Work-Life Balance Concern Shifts to Singles

The public buzz on work-life balance tends to focus on the efforts of working mothers as they strive to achieve the delicate balance between family commitments and job responsibilities. A recent post by Golda Calonge on the blog Ms-JD.org, however, takes a look at recent discussion about single professional women and whether they are being unfairly expected to pick up the slack for their married counterparts. Ms-JD.org refers to this phenomenon as “singleism-prejudice” and “discrimination directed at married people.”

The blog reports that single, childless women interviewed by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for her New York Times bestseller, Lean In, and by Ayana Byrd for her Marie Claire article, “The Single Girl’s Second Shift,” were disproportionately asked to work late and to take the lead on projects, while their colleagues with families were preferred for flexible work arrangements. The authors suggest that the troublesome result is that these overworked single professional women forgo social opportunities to meet marital prospects.

But the blog post notes that the authors perpetuate singleism by focusing on a very specific hetero-normative demographic (that might not, for example, include the LGBTQ population) and by universalizing single women’s motivations to create work-life balance. Also disconcerting is the “absence of men” from this dialogue and the “interchangeable” references to professional married women and working mothers without challenge to “the archetype of a nuclear family” that may no longer exist.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, Singleism, women, married, single

Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI


November 26, 2013

Great Expectations

In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, “Great Expectations for Female Lawyers,” author Florence Martin-Kessler raises the question of whether women poised in 2001 to “have it all” in the big law firm setting had fulfilled those expectations more than 10 years into their practice. The article followed up on a 2001 magazine article portraying 21 women, most fresh out of law school, at a big New York law firm. The author was curious about what happened to these women who were about to enter the male-dominated world of big law.

In her follow up, Martin-Kessler learned that these 21 women had taken divergent career paths. Most were no longer with their original New York law firm, but more than half were still in private practice. Many of the women’s expectations had now bumped up against the realities of private practice. For example, one woman noted that the stress of making partner was just part of the game; once a person made partner, they still have to work hard. That particular woman said she wanted more of a balance. She ultimately left the New York law firm for a job with steady hours at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Another woman, who went from the law firm to a nonprofit and accepted an 80 percent pay cut in doing so, felt that her expectation from 2001—that working hard and dedicating herself to her practice would get her everything she wanted—was unrealistic. She seemed to struggle with the choices she has made since the original article. As noted by still another of the women, no matter what industry you look at, only 15–20 percent of the leadership in those industries are women, and the numbers are not changing dramatically over time. Indeed, only 4 percent of top U.S. law firms are run by women.

Considering these experiences, Martin-Kessler concludes that the women’s lives “were often far more complex than they had predicted,” and that “[e]ven the greatest of expectations, it seems, eventually encounter reality.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, law firms, women professionals, work-life balance

Angela Benjamin, White & Case LLP, Miami, FL


November 8, 2013

Flexible Working Arrangements Are Necessary to Retain Talented Women

Some companies have recently announced that they have eliminated or scaled back their flexible working arrangements (FWAs) in favor of increased face time. However, a recent study by Catalyst shows that FWAs are more popular than ever and are a key component of recruiting and retaining talented employees, especially women. Catalyst surveyed 726 MBA graduates working full-time around the world and found that not only were FWAs favored by high potential women, but were key drivers of ambition.

The study, titled The Great Debate: Flexibility vs. Face Time, Busting the Myths Behind Flexible Work Arrangements, endeavored to dispel some of the myths surrounding FWAs, including that FWAs are the exception at companies. Eighty-one percent of respondents reported that their current employer offers some type of FWA, and that only young entry-level employees value FWAs when in fact the study found that personnel at all levels value FWAs. The study also revealed that while women tend to place more value in FWAs than men (67 percent compared to 46 percent), both genders use FWAs.

The most interesting finding in the study was the effect that access to FWAs had on women’s ambition to rise in their careers. Eighty-three percent of women with access to FWAs aspired to the C-Suite, compared to only 54 percent of women without access to FWAs. The study attributes this 30 percent drop to the perception of support and the level of trust the respondents felt from their employers. The aspirations of men to the executive suite were roughly the same whether they had access to FWAs or not––94 percent versus 85 percent.

Examples of FWAs that support women include:

  • flexible arrival and departure time
  • flexible schedule
  • telecommuting
  • compressed work week
  • reduced work/ part time
  • job sharing

In many instances, according to the study, men and women used FWAs at the same rate.  For example, 34 percent of both women and men have used flexible arrival and departure time; 32 percent of women and 30 percent of men frequently used flex time; and 7 percent of both men and women were likely to use a compressed work week. In an article on The Glasshammer.com, Anna Beninger, co-author of the study along with Nancy M. Carter, summarized the important role FWAs play in the workplace: “[FWAs] are not just about convenience. It’s about advancement and an organization’s ability to maximize its talent pool.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, flexible work arrangements

Allison Kernisky, Holland & Knight, Miami, FL



October 25, 2013

Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers

Herminia Ibarra, Robin Ely, and Deborah Kolb, authors of the September 2013 Harvard Business Review article, “Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers,” argue that becoming a leader involves a fundamental identity shift, and that organizations inadvertently undermine this process when they encourage women to seek leadership roles without also addressing policies and practices that communicate a mismatch between how women are seen and the qualities and experiences people tend to associate with leaders. Specifically, becoming a leader involves shouldering increasingly challenging roles, learning from mentors, and experimenting with new behaviors. If an individual’s performance is affirmed, they repeat the process. Yet, the authors note, integrating leadership into one’s core identity is particularly challenging for women, “who must establish credibility in a culture that is deeply conflicted about whether, when, and how they should exercise authority.”

The authors suggest three actions to support women’s access to leadership positions: (1) educate women and men about second-generation gender bias, (2) create safe “identity workspaces” to support transitions to bigger roles, and (3) anchor women’s development efforts in a sense of leadership purpose rather than in how women are perceived.

Educate Everyone about Second-Generation Gender Bias
Second-Generation Gender Bias is a concept emerging from the research trend away from deliberate exclusion of women and toward investigating “second-generation” forms of gender bias as the primary cause of women’s underrepresentation in leadership roles. Second-generation bias does not require intent to exclude, nor does it necessarily produce direct, immediate harm to any one person. For example, when asked what might be holding women back in their organizations, women say: “My firm has the very best intentions when it comes to women. But it seems every time a leadership role opens up, women are not on the slate. The claim is made that they just can’t find women with the right skill set and experience.” That comment illustrates second-generation gender bias: “it creates a context – akin to ‘something in the water’ – in which women fail to thrive or reach their full potential.”

The authors argue that without an understanding of second-generation bias, people are left with stereotypes to explain the perceived failure of women to achieve parity with men. They claim that when women recognize the subtle and pervasive effects of second-generation bias, “they feel empowered, not victimized, because they can take action to counter those effects.”

Create Safe “Identity Workspaces”
Research demonstrates that accomplished, high-potential women who are evaluated as competent managers often fail the likeability test, whereas competence and likeability tend to go hand in hand for similarly accomplished men. The authors suggest creating a safe setting where women can interpret the messages received during conventional performance reviews. The authors emphasize the importance of creating settings where women are willing to talk openly, take risks, and feel vulnerable without feeling that others will misunderstand or judge them.

The Importance of Leadership Purpose
How women are perceived has been the focus of many efforts to get more of them to the top. The premise, the authors explain, is that “women have not been socialized to compete successfully in the world of men, so they must be taught the skills and styles their male counterparts acquire as a matter of course.” Women should anchor their efforts in their goals and purpose, which enables them to redirect their attention toward shared goals and consider what they need to learn to achieve those goals. The authors propose that instead of defining themselves in relation to gender stereotypes, female leaders can focus on behaving in ways that advance the purposes for which they stand.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, research, bias, leadership

Claudia Hartleben, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Washington, D.C.



October 16, 2013

The 2013 Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms List is Out!

 As they have done since 2007, the Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms released its 2013 list of U.S. law firms that create and use best practices in retaining and promoting women lawyers. These Best Law Firms lead the industry in supporting flexible work arrangements and offering generous paid parental leave, as well as ensuring that lawyers who take advantage of these programs are not excluded from advancement and/or partnership. Of the 50 Firms chosen, women comprised 25 percent to 50 percent of total lawyers, with the majority falling in the 30 percent range. Further, these firms employ more female equity partners than the national average (19 percent versus 15 percent), which is an increase of one percent is from last year’s numbers.

Highlights of the findings with regard to the Best Law Firms include:

  • Women hold 22 percent of Executive, 23 percent of Compensation, and 24 percent of Equity Partner Promotion Committee seats;

  • The percentage of women lawyers in the top ten rainmakers at the various firms rose from 69 percent to 78 percent;

  • The firms, with the exception of two, allow reduced-work-hour lawyers to be eligible for equity partnership; and

  • The firms offer flexible working schedules (Flex-Time) and generous paid parental leave while remaining eligible for equity partnership (96 percent of the firms).

While these findings are promising, there is still room for improvement. For example, at the firms that retained equity partner eligibility for reduced-hour lawyers, on average only one lawyer per firm actually achieved equity partnership.

Moreover, many lawyers are not taking full advantage of what these Best Firms have to offer. Indeed, only nine percent of lawyers at these Firms (compared to the six percent national average) actually utilized flextime, noting that while male and female associates and counsel used flextime at comparable rates, among equity partners, more than three quarters of the users were men. Further, women, on average, took only 13 of the 14 weeks of the paid maternity leave offered.

Across the board, the firms had common practices for retaining women and advancement in the law firm environment, which included women’s initiatives, mentoring programs, and options for flexibility in work schedules:

  • Women’s Initiatives: The firms encourage women’s initiatives that focus on internal networking, educational sessions, discussion groups, and workshops on topics such as strategies, sponsorship, leadership development, and business development and/or promote women’s leadership training programs for female attorneys.

  • Mentoring: At the majority of the firms, women lawyers receive formal training and mentoring in litigation and business development. At some firms, this mentoring is done by both peers and partners to develop long-range career goals and plans to achieve those goals or associates choose a partner mentor and are coached on business development.

  • Flexibility: Most all of the firms participated in flextime, reduced hours, or telecommuting. Some firms allowed attorneys to take unlimited paid time off as long as they make billable hour requirements. The majority of the firms offered childcare or access to childcare and fitness facilities.

Overall, what these 50 firms display is a dedication to the advancement of women lawyers resulting in an increasing number of women lawyers, more women equity partners, and more significant numbers of women participating in senior management. These firms have robust women’s initiatives, mentoring programs, and flexibility in work schedules. These actions speak volumes and are what put these firms at the top.

Keywords: woman advocate, women professionals, law firms, best practices, women’s initiatives, flex-time, mentoring

Stefanie M. Wayco, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY



October 15, 2013

Women Professionals Place More Value on Recognition and Respect in the Workplace Than Their Male Counterparts

 A new study by Thomson Reuters of more than 1,000 professionals from five countries, namely Brazil, China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, found that while both male and female professionals are collaborative, entrepreneurial, and share similar work style and habits, women tend to place a higher value on obtaining recognition and respect in the workplace than their male counterparts. The study focused on five key global industries, namely finance and risk, legal, tax and accounting, scientific research and development, and healthcare and health services.

The study found that nearly equal proportions of men and women said they preferred a collaborative team environment (55 percent and 56 percent, respectively) and that they wanted to be entrepreneurial in their jobs (46 percent and 48 percent, respectively). Other commonalities among male and female professionals included the importance of problem solving, having career goals and a vision of what they wanted to achieve, and being challenged at work. The study concluded, however, that the one significant area where the genders diverged was with regard to recognition and respect. More specifically, women more strongly desired recognition by management for their accomplishments and respect from their colleagues than men by a margin of 63 percent to 53 percent and 61 percent to 53 percent, respectively. The study did not affirmatively determine whether the reason for this gender differential was that women value recognition more than men or that they simply are not getting the respect they deserve. That being said, while noted that women may be more desirous of recognition to the extent they did not receive it in the past, the study more strongly suggested that a lack of proper respect was the true issue and asks the question of whether women are being recognized enough for their contributions. Regardless of the reason, however, the study advised that supervisors/managers should take note of this differential and attempt to address it.

Ultimately, the study concluded that while female professionals seek respect and recognition more than men, the multitude of commonalities among both genders suggest that all professionals want access to as much information as possible to assist them with their jobs and provide them with a “seat at the table” so their voices can be heard. They further want to work for a company with values, that cares about their employees, and that they overall can believe in. Accordingly, if managers treat all employees with respect, e.g., as people who can make valuable contributions to a collaborative team, and share with them the information they need to do their jobs, this will result in a happier, more engaged, and more productive workforce.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, women professionals, recognition and respect, workplace

Angela A. Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York, NY



October 7, 2013

American Lawyer Reports Gender Divides in Midlevel Associate Job Satisfaction

The American Lawyer has released the results of its 2013 Midlevel Associates Survey, which collects data from third- through fifth-year associates at the country’s largest law firms. The survey results indicate that midlevel associates are reporting greater satisfaction than in the past. Indeed, the publication notes that the composite survey scores are the highest it has seen in nearly 10 years. Behind this good news, however, analysis of these results reveals notable differences in the reported experiences of men and women.

First, men tend to report higher satisfaction scores than women. Second, men and women in the survey appear to differ with regard to priorities. For example, women in the study were more likely than the men to indicate a willingness to take a pay cut in return for a reduction of billable hours. When survey respondents were asked what would motivate them to leave their current firm, men were more likely than women to cite business or monetary reasons (such as not making partner or to make more money), while women were more likely to cite a better work/life balance. A higher percentage of the male respondents indicated that they expected to be a partner within five years, whereas a higher percentage of female respondents were unsure what they would be doing in that time frame.

In the open-ended comment portion of the study, many of the female respondents noted the dearth of female partners in their offices, as well as the “unspoken motherhood penalty at firms.” These comments, in conjunction with the fact that only 26 percent of the female respondents in the study have children in their household (as compared to 40 percent of male survey respondents) suggest that the differences in the survey responses of male and female associates is more complicated than the personal/home responsibilities of the respondents.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, associate, gender, satisfaction, Big Law, law form

Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Sacramento, CA



August 13, 2013

Accountability, Inclusion, and Advocacy

Avivah Wittenberg’s article “Your Company Doesn’t Need a Women’s Network” illustrates how women’s networks and other “women-dominated efforts” fall frustratingly short of effecting real change in gender balances in senior positions. Networking, women’s initiatives, and other efforts are put into place, but those efforts are merely “nice places to hang out”—and the “noose for the gender-balance effort to hang itself on.”

Three solutions offered are to use existing women’s networks to lobby for change by having companies’ top executives sign a petition similar to other business initiatives that require accountability; to redefine women’s networks to include both men and women; and to appoint male leaders who will help forge the path.

These three solutions offer a first step toward substantive change to the path to the top.

Lobby for Change

Lobby for change by having a company’s top executives sign a petition that requires accountability of those at the top. In the legal world, more and more companies are reviewing diversity, quantity, and quality when selecting law firms to serve as outside counsel—in particular, for coveted positions on preferred provider networks that guarantee volume work from large clients. Accountability at the top for contributing to the gender balance equation does not just benefit women, it is also beneficial for the firm itself because it ultimately impacts the bottom line. Eventually, those firms that fail to encourage, support, and groom women for senior positions will be left behind. A law firm’s executive committee has no reason not to jump on the bandwagon and sign the accountability petition.

Redefining Networks

The need to redefine women’s networks to include both men and women should be apparent. While women’s events offer a forum to address issues related to women in the workplace, in the real world women do not work in women-only environments. We work with men. It defies reason to have women purposely segregate themselves in women’s initiatives from those already at the top, the majority of whom are men, in their quest to reach new heights and numbers in positions of leadership and power in the corporate and legal world. Women’s infiltration of the top should not exclude men; we should be networking with and including men.

Appoint Male Leaders

Nominate male leaders to help forge the path. Women’s networking events are beneficial, but they have their limits. Men in leadership positions within corporations and law firm management have great ability to contribute to women’s successful advancement and take the gender balance seriously. Involving men in women’s road to the top is not a sign of weakness; rather, it is a sign of power.

Women have done a fantastic job of creating women’s initiatives, attending networking events, and supporting one another’s promotions up the rungs of the corporate and law firm ladders. To continue this progress we should strive to achieve greater executive level accountability and commitment to gender balance at the top, include men in women’s networking, and solicit male leaders to go to bat for us in our path to the top and at the top.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, accountability, inclusion, advocacy

Stefanie Wayco, Bressler, Amery and Ross, P.C., New York, NY


August 13, 2013

"Don't Just Survive, Thrive": A Recap of the July Regional Event

On July 18th, WAC members and nonmembers gathered in more 30 cities across the country to network and listen to “Don’t Just Survive, Thrive,” a presentation by Nan Joesten of Rapid Evolution, LLC. Nan spoke about the five steps attorneys can take now to make their law practice a place where they thrive:

  • create a personal board of directors;
  • build optimism;
  • know what matters;
  • share your goals; and
  • use mentors.

Nan reminded attendees that we are often critical of ourselves because of things that are outside our control. For example, how often do we dwell on a loss in court that we had advised the client was the likely outcome? Nan also recommended that attorneys search “values exercise” online and complete one of the core values exercise worksheets that are published by several executive coaches. In addition, attendees were encouraged to strategically select people to be on their personal board of directors. Board members should be people who may have connections that will help you achieve your goals. They should also be good listeners who will provide you with no-nonsense feedback, and who may sponsor you and/or someone who may be an industry expert.

WAC members may view Nan’s PowerPoint presentation.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, advancement, regional event

Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH


June 17, 2013

Long Hours Stall Career Advancement for Women

According to data taken from the U.S. Census Bureau, only nine percent of employed American mothers work more than 50 hours a week during the key years of career advancement––ages 25 to 44. When limited to mothers with a college degree, the data barely improves at 13.9 percent. In real time, working more than 50 hours a week generally means leaving home around 8:30 a.m. and returning at 8:30 p.m. five days a week, assuming an average commute. These hours are unattractive as most mothers want to see their children awake.

Joan Williams, distinguished professor of law and founding director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, recently analyzed the “long hours problem” as a reason why women are not advancing in the workplace. Williams observed that the expectation of logging long hours to achieve career advancement is a key reason why the percentage of women in top jobs has stalled around 14 percent over the past decade. There can be little progress when the path leading to top jobs requires a time commitment that excludes most mothers and, as a result, most women.

Despite the need to address this problem, the future of work-life balance appears grim. Recently, companies have cut back on workplace flexibility programs. In 2012, Bank of America restricted its work-from-home program to increase efficiency. Earlier this year, Best Buy ended the company’s “results only work environment” program that evaluated employees on performance only, and not where or how many hours they worked. At Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer eliminated telecommuting.

According to Williams, “manliness and morality” are to blame for the difficulty in sustaining workplace flexibility programs. Upper-middle class men place importance on ambition and strong work ethic. As a result, they believe that high-level professionals should “demonstrate commitment by making work the central focus of their lives” and “manifest singular ‘devotion to work,’ unencumbered with family responsibilities.” Characterizing “work devotion” as a marriage between moral purity and elite status, Williams notes that the elite signal their importance by saying “I am slammed.” In other words, “the working rich” display their extreme schedules to establish their class status.

Working long hours is also seen as a manly, heroic activity. Marianne Cooper undertook a study of engineers in Silicon Valley to observe how working long hours is a “manly test of physical endurance.” Cooper concluded that the successful enactment of masculinity was displaying one’s “exhaustion, physically and verbally, in order to convey the depth of one's commitment, stamina, and virility.”

Employers concerned about advancing women in the workplace need to address the underlying problem of long hours. Unless and until there is a change in the expectation that logging long hours is necessary to succeed, the percentage of women in top jobs will remain stagnant.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, advancement, careers

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN



June 5, 2013

When Women Become Mothers

Warren Buffett recently made headlines when he stated the obvious: when you “use 50 percent of our human capacity,” rather than 100 percent, you lose.  In a guest column for Fortune, the Oracle of Omaha implored men to bet on women as the next big thing.  Mr. Buffett’s predictions may come off as simplistic.  After all, he states that America has forged its success “while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country’s talent”—forgetting that perhaps it is recognition, not utilization, women lacked.  However, Mr. Buffett’s intentions are good.  Hitching his star to Sheryl Sandberg’s wagon, Mr. Buffett champions the potential for women, and observes that women (even the likes of the late Katharine Graham of publishing fame, whom he affectionately calls, “Kay”), unlike their male counterparts, often let self-doubt creep in, with career-limiting results.  In an attempt to encourage, Mr. Buffett urges women to “never forget that it is common for powerful and seeming self-assured males to have more than a bit of the Wizard of Oz in them.”  

However, even the most self-assured may face another challenge Mr. Buffett does not address: motherhood.  As a study published last year by the National Institute of Health observed, while mothers and non-mothers make similar investments in their education and career along the way, they are penalized once they are in the family way.  A recent article by The New Yorker highlighted the issue.  American mothers suffer a five percent wage penalty for each child.  American mothers earn less than their childless, female peers, and for reasons often unrelated to maternity leave, flexible work schedules, and other time away from the office.  A study by Yale University found that, when faced with fictitious job candidates with equal qualifications and experience, mothers were judged to be less competent and committed to work than women without children.  The fictitious mothers were, not surprisingly, passed over for their childless peers. 

While the study suggested that the perceived demands of childrearing may be to blame, fathers are actually offered higher starting salaries than their childless male peers.  When a father is seen as a more stable hire, and a mother is seen as a more risky hire, it begs the question: Do women doubt themselves, or are employers doing it for them?

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, pregnancy, gender, pay career, mothers

Emily Wessel Farr, Lincoln Derr, Charlotte, NC


May 20, 2013

The ABA's Gender Equity Task Force—We Still Aren't There Yet

Even though women have been graduating from law schools and entering the profession in numbers nearly equal to men for the past two decades, women lawyers continue to lag behind their male counterparts in terms of compensation, advancement to equity partner status, and the attainment of positions of real power and influence. To change this long-standing paradigm and develop specific and concrete strategies and solutions that enable women lawyers to advance and succeed, ABA President Laurel G. Bellows created the Gender Equity Task Force in 2012.

President Bellows appointed a blue-ribbon group of women and men to carry out the important work of the task force, which has worked hand in hand with the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. The task force has established six working groups, each of which has focused on specific areas of concern to women in the profession and society at large.

Women Lawyers’ Compensation
This working group is taking a multipronged approach to the critical issue of women lawyers’ compensation. There is a significant disparity in compensation between male and female lawyers, which increases with seniority. The pay gap is largest at the equity partner level. There is a close correlation between compensation and the ability to achieve a leadership position on management, executive, and compensation committees at law firms. Moreover, the disparity in compensation contributes to the disproportionately high rate of attrition of women from law firms. This adversely affects law firms, which have invested substantial time and resources in training and developing their women lawyers. It also adversely affects clients, who lose the women lawyers who have built up an institutional knowledge of the clients’ business and upon whom the clients have relied to handle their matters. Thus, achieving pay equity for women lawyers is a profoundly important business imperative.

The compensation working group has developed a pay equity toolkit for state and local bar associations to use to educate their members about the existence of the disparity in pay between men and women lawyers and the reasons for that disparity. The group is also drafting model compensation policies and suggested best practices for law firms to implement. In addition, the group is developing a pamphlet to advise women on how to negotiate more effectively for their compensation entitled, “What You Need to Know About Negotiating Compensation.” Working with several general counsels, the group is also developing written materials that can be used by in-house counsel to encourage law firms to implement fair and equitable compensation, credit origination, and client succession policies.

Young Lawyers/Social Media
Another working group is focusing on engaging young female and male lawyers in gender equity issues. Young lawyers may not realize that bias and discrimination exist because they have not encountered it. Moreover, bias today is often more subtle and implicit, rather than overt. This working group has created the Task Force website and spearheads an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as hosting a Twitter chat on Equal Pay Day (April 9th). It is leading the charge for a “virtual” march in Washington in support of equal pay. Learn about these great events from our social media sites and be a part of the conversation.

ABA Women’s Affinity Groups
Representatives of ABA women’s affinity groups met during the ABA Midyear Meeting to discuss how to enhance the collaboration and coordination of projects and other initiatives of women’s groups in the ABA so they can work collectively on issues of common interest. A listserve has been established, as well as a newsletter, so these representatives can continue to connect with one another.

Women General Counsel Regional Summit
On March 7, 2013, the Commission on Women and the Gender Equity Task Force hosted a successful Midwest Regional Summit for women in-house general counsel and senior counsel to discuss issues that are of importance to them in their careers, as well as creative ways to help ensure that the women at law firms handling their companies’ work are advancing in their firms and receiving fair compensation.

International Women-to-Women Business Network
This working group has planned and hosted two networking events so far, one in connection with the UIA in Germany and the other at the Law Society of England and Wales in London, England. Three more events are planned before the end of the 2012–13 bar year. The purpose of the events is to bring women lawyers from around the world together to meet each other and refer business to one another. A listserve has been established to allow these women to continue to connect with each other after the events. The Section of International Law has been instrumental in helping to arrange these events. Future programs will be held in conjunction with the International Law Section’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C., as well as the DAV-International Law Section meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. The final event will be held on August 9th during the ABA Annual Meeting from 6:00–7:00 p.m. at the Hotel Nikko.

Communications Group
This working group has been charged with identifying opportunities for President Bellows to comment in the media on important gender equity issues. This group is also instrumental in developing the media relations campaign for the Task Force.

We are grateful that Laurel Bellows has used her ABA Presidency to shine a much-needed spotlight on the barriers that have impeded the progress of women in the profession and in society at large. Join us in this important endeavor––it is only by leveraging our collective power that we will finally achieve the real and meaningful change that is long overdue!

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, Gender Equity Task Force

Roberta Liebenberg, Fine, Kaplan & Black in Philadelphia, PA.
Roberta Liebenberg serves as chair of the ABA Presidential Task Force on Gender Equity.


May 20, 2013

Women's Initiatives Creating Change

For many reasons, women in law firms are good for the law firm’s business—not just in a legal capacity at the firm, but in leadership positions within the firm’s upper management. Women may be more in tune with certain clients and certain areas of the law. A firm’s lawyers reflect the culture of the firm. What does it say to clients or potential clients when there are few women at the top? More and more frequently, especially at the institutional client level, women and diversity within law firms are becoming an important deciding factor in their selection of a law firm.

Today, women’s initiatives in law firms are growing. These initiatives are intended to provide a forum for women to discuss women’s issues in law firms, career advancement, and navigating the client relationship in what is a predominately male dominated profession. Upper management in law firms typically supports these efforts, but many believe that more work needs to be done with initiatives to advance more women to the top and equalize pay between male and female lawyers, especially at the equity partner level.

Statistics for women in the field of law are striking. For decades, women have represented more than half of law graduates. According to a report by the National Association of Women Lawyers Foundation, one of every two associates in a law firm is a woman. Despite these numbers, women continue to be underrepresented at the top. Women represent only one out of seven equity partners and 15 percent of equity partners at the nation’s top 200 law firms. Of this noticeably small percentage of women at the top, even fewer are in management or hold executive positions on law firm committees.

These statistics depict a legal field saturated by women in the middle ranks. Women attorneys dominate the staff attorney ranks with few rising to the top posts in law firms. Despite the efforts of law firms to support women’s initiatives and female attorneys’ own efforts to make changes across all levels, the statistics remain disproportionately low.

While law firms are typically more than willing to invest resources, time, and people, there appears to be a disconnect between women’s initiatives and substantive changes that advance women to senior positions within firms and equalize the pay gap. What is lacking? Where is the disconnect? What makes the initiatives work? What needs to be done?

It is unlikely that law firms invest in women’s initiatives simply to check off a “women’s initiative” box; more likely, there is a disconnect with what to do with the initiative once it is in place. Women’s initiatives must have the capability to impact the firm both internally and externally. Women’s initiatives require focus not only on issues that affect women, such as pay equality, maternity leave, part-time work, and associated issues, but they need to also focus on the law firm and how to best advance the firm’s own strategic objectives. Informal lunches and conferences with the firm’s women are simply not enough to gain momentum for a successful women’s initiative. Women’s initiatives must tap directly into the top decision makers at the firm. For the best results, a firm’s top management must foster and facilitate the program creating a support network.

In turn, women’s initiatives will facilitate opportunities for business development within the firm. Women’s initiatives must include in their training and discussion sessions a plan for business development. Thus, advancing the law firm’s goals through the women’s initiative will also advance the initiative’s goals. Women’s initiatives should leverage those in top management to work with women at all levels in the firm to “lean in.”

Women’s initiatives and women’s career advancement are not solely upper management’s responsibility to facilitate. For success, and to “get a seat at the table,” women in the firm must take responsibility, as Sheryl Sandberg says in her book Lean In. At the end of the day, law firms have a responsibility to create an environment where women’s initiatives have the opportunity and capability to make a difference. Ultimately, women lawyers must take responsibility for their own success. Women must demonstrate their commitment to success by stepping into significant roles within their firms, forging a path to leadership, and developing their career path to the top from the very beginning. For women’s initiatives to be successful, everyone is responsible for making a change.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, creating change

Stefanie Wayco, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., New York.



April 15, 2013

Sheryl Sandberg Wants You to Be Yourself, and Lean In

Sheryl Sandberg, COO and Number Two at Facebook, starts her book by thanking her parents, for teaching her that “anything was possible,” and her husband, for “making everything possible.” This dedication might not strike one as unusual, but when reading Lean In, you begin to note its importance. Sheryl Sandberg, like all of us, is a product of her environment. And her environment, as she acknowledges with gratitude and humility, is chock-full of support.

Lean In, a follow-up from Sandberg’s now-famous 2010 TED lecture, is a short but sweet thing––a paper and glue version of its author. In its first pages, Sandberg forewarns that it is limited in scope; not a memoir, not a career guide, not a self-help book. In fact, Sandberg doesn’t care what the book is, but rather, what it does. Lean In teaches several lessons, and this is the first: be ambitious, unapologetically ambitious, in the way you choose to live your life. Whether in family, friendship, career, volunteerism, or book writing, put 100 percent into those things you pursue.

Sandberg’s book navigates women’s challenges from the playground to the corner office by focusing on what we, as women, internalize along the way. While she acknowledges the multitude of institutional barriers that still exist, she focuses her book on how we hold ourselves back. This is a focus from which we all benefit. Institutional barriers are very real, but they are also rigid and long-standing. We, on the other hand, are human. We are flexible––and hopefully not as old as the Old Boys Club. When we face our internal barriers, we look in the mirror. There is nobody to report, no member of congress to call. We simply must, as Sandberg urges, “seek and speak our truth.”

To do so, Sandberg urges us to be ourselves––even at work. She reminds us that a key factor in both professional and personal success is being liked; and nobody likes a fraud. In rather dry fashion, she observes: “I couldn’t deny being a woman; even if I tried, people would still figure it out.” So, over the years, and with much hesitation, Sandberg embraced her true self. She is refreshingly vulnerable as she describes who the real Sheryl is. She is a woman, who has cried at work, recently, in front of her boss (read: Zuckerberg). She is an employee who has withstood insults, sexism, and Queen Bees. She is a mother of two who has lost more than one Mommy War. It turns out, COOs are just like us!

Authenticity is not always welcome. Sandberg acknowledges that there is a lingering discomfort with women in leadership roles. In a frightening statistic, even among the youthful Millennial men and women, only twenty percent want to emulate the career of their female boss. And this is where Sandberg urges us to lean a little bit farther. If we want women to reach parity with men, ambition is not enough. We also need encouragement. “Everyone,” she writes, “needs to get more comfortable with female leaders––including female leaders themselves.” By encouraging women, including ourselves, we achieve the freedom that allows us to lead in our own voice. And when we are truly ourselves, we are more likeable, and we are more successful. And then, out of nowhere, she uses the “F” word.

Sandberg calls being a feminist a “distinguished label,” and hopes that both men and women will embrace it. And this is what feminism looks like to Sandberg: While her career features grueling hours and inconvenient travel, she leaves at 5:30 p.m. (when in town) to have dinner with her family. She prioritizes being a good friend, mother, daughter, sister, and wife. Her husband is a trusted confidant and her biggest supporter, as she is for him. He also enjoys a fulfilling career. She wholeheartedly supports her friends, male and female, who decide to raise their children full-time––some for a year, others for a lifetime. She recognizes and praises the important work in the boardroom, as well as the PTA. She calls a truly equal world one where “women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

Sandberg’s Acknowledgements section reads like a speech to the Academy, with a long list of friends and family who support her. Sandberg is the richest woman in town, but more like George Bailey, not Soros. She is a product of her environment, one where she found support as she gradually leaned in to life, as herself. She wants the same for you. The cynics will write that Sandberg can afford to be herself. She is, after all, Sheryl Sandberg. The cynics will have made her point for her. Sandberg describes women not supporting other women as “heart-breaking.” What would she call women not supporting women who are supporting women?

And that is Sandberg’s final lesson: be kind. Though she doesn’t devote a chapter to the concept, she embodies it. She does not judge other women for their choices; she does not order them from best to worst decision. Her outlook is incredibly positive, gracious, and bubbling over with respect. She is the leader of a new kind of women’s movement, as she recently declared on 60 Minutes; one where women give each other the benefit of the doubt, just like so many have given her. Sandberg isn’t advocating a scorched earth policy when it comes to women’s rights. She is asking for a truce. We’re all trying our best, after all.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, Lean In, Sandberg

Emily Wessel Farr, Lincoln Derr PLLC, Charlotte, NC


April 8, 2013

Toolkit for Gender Equity in Partner Compensation Released

The ABA Gender Equity Task Force has released its Toolkit for Gender Equity in Partner Compensation. The toolkit is a compilation of resources for bar groups and firms to initiate and advance the conversation about gender equity in partner compensation in the legal profession. Check back to the Task Force’s web page as it is anticipated that ABA President Bellows will be announcing two new initiatives of the Task Force during her April 9 Twitter Chat on Equal Pay, including: a virtual symposium on Equity in the Legal Profession (follow #equityABA on Twitter for more info) and a “Click Your Heels” virtual awareness campaign that will be launched on April 9 and will culminate at the Day of the Woman at the ABA Annual Meeting in August.


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, Gender Equity Task Force, toolkit

––Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH



April 8, 2013

Law Firms "Lean In" to Help Women Advance in Their Careers

Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" campaign is gaining momentum within the legal community. In recent weeks, five Am Law 200 firms have joined more than 150 companies and organizations committed to the campaign that encourages women to openly discuss the challenges they face at home and at work. Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, jumpstarted the campaign with a 2010 speech at a TEDWomen conference addressing the lack of women leaders in business and politics. The campaign is based on the idea that women will advance in the workplace by talking with each other and their male counterparts.

In October of 2012, the National Association of Women Lawyers reported that although women and men enter law firms in equal numbers, on average, women account for just 15 percent of the equity partners within the nation’s 200 largest law firms. The American Lawyer also reported in January that few women are represented in firms at the management committee level.

The Am Law 200 firms that have committed to the "Lean In" campaign, including Fenwick & West; Sidely Austin; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, welcome the chance to join the conversation. According to Carter Phillips, cochair of Sidley Austin’s executive committee, one of the campaign’s draws is the opportunity to pool resources with non-legal industries. Meredith Moore, Weil’s global diversity director and social responsibility director, embraces the “renewed energy around this conversation.” Weil has even launched a new mentoring program pairing one male partner and one female partner with a small group of female associates. The ultimate goal of joining the campaign, as stated by Fenwick partner Ted Wang, is "to really get people involved."

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation,advancement, careers

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN



April 3, 2013

Using Body Language to Influence Personal Outcomes

Small daily decisions to stand with our arms folded or slouch when interacting with others are all telling signs of our assertiveness influencing not only how others see us, but also influencing our confidence to obtain desirable outcomes in a litigation case, negotiation, or job interview. According to Harvard researcher and social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, these outcomes are now linked to our internal beliefs of our own power and dominance. “Your body language shapes who you are” said Cuddy who gave an insightful presentation on Ted.com about the power of our non-verbal expressions to influence our self-perception and third-party perception. Utilizing attribution theories, Cuddy analyzed two issues: whether non-verbal expressions influence how we feel about ourselves; and whether our bodies can change our minds.

As to the former issue, Cuddy noted that nonverbal expressions of power of dominance have origination in the animal kingdom. For example, an expression of pride is typically shown by raising arms up in a V-style with the chin slightly lifted. Alternatively, expressions of powerlessness are depicted by curtailing and shrinking our physical bodies, such as slouching. These expressions of power or powerlessness influence how we feel about ourselves, making it more likely to generate particular outcomes based on internal feelings that we are or are not powerful.

As to the latter issue (i.e., whether our bodies can change our minds), Cuddy noted that there are physiological differences between those who subscribe to power or powerless nonverbal expressions. Power and dominance individuals have been shown to have high testosterone and low cortisol levels. Powerless individuals, on the other hand, tend to have low testosterone and high cortisone levels. Cuddy conducted an experiment where half of the participants performed high power poses and the other half performed low power poses for two minutes. The results revealed that high power posers showed a 20 percent increase in testosterone and 25 percent decrease of cortisol. Low power posers, on the hand were marked by a 10 percent decrease of testosterone and 15 percent increase in cortisol.

Engaging in high power poses has the potential to increase an individual’s power and dominance to exhibit personal traits of assertiveness, confidence, and optimism. “Using a few simple tweaks to body language,” Cuddy explains that the shift from powerless to powerful is relatively simple. Utilizing her custom designed power poses for as little as two minutes can change the role that you subscribe to by virtue of your nonverbal expressions. The good news for those of us who find ourselves in the powerless category is that we can “Fake it till we become it” according to Cuddy.

View Amy Cuddy’s Power Poses presentation.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, body language, power

––Catherine Delcin, Delcin Consulting Group, Walnut Creek, CA


April 1, 2013

March 21, 2013 Regional Gathering Report

WAC Regional Meeting Chairs, Heather White and Evelyn Storch, are thrilled to report on the resounding success of the March 21, 2013 Regional Gathering featuring, Carol Frohlinger, of Negotiating Women, Inc., co-author of Her Place at the Table and Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It, who presented remarks, via national teleconference, regarding second-generation discrimination issues and how they impact business development. We had record attendance at 32 official locations from coast to coast, with one more addition after the flyers were circulated. We also  had numerous members calling in from their own locations to hear the presentation.

What a presentation it was! Carol was stimulating, entertaining, and enlightening. She identified the insidious discrimination issues that still exist and the implications for us women lawyers in building our book of business. Best of all, she provided practical solutions and offered wonderful advice. She was scheduled to speak for a half hour, but we had to extend her time, because there were so many questions from our groups and she was so informative, we just couldn’t let her stop. And we’re still not letting her go—Carol is gathering research on second-generation gender issues (that might end up in book #3!). Please send Carol an anecdote that you would be willing to share with her, she’d love to hear from you.

Following the presentation, local networking was in full force. We hope some seeds were sown for long-term networking relationships.

None of this could have happened without our amazing hosts, and we thank each and every one for helping us to create these opportunities for our members. We’ll be calling on you again soon for the next gathering. If anyone has any ideas for great programs/speakers during the meetings, Heather and Evelyn are all ears. And thank you goes as well to all our attendees—without you, our hosts would be sitting alone in their big conference rooms counting ceiling tiles until the presentation.

If you joined us, you know it was something special. If you missed it, you won’t want to do that again. When you get news of the next gathering, look for a location in your neighborhood, and, if you can’t find one, become a host yourself.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, regional gathering, report

Evelyn Storch, Harwood Lloyd, Hackensack, NJ and Heather White, Smith Moore Leatherwood, Charlotte, NC


March 27, 2013

Increasingly Popular Part-Time Schedules Are Not Yet Accepted

Women make up the vast majority of part-time lawyers, according to a new survey by the National Association for Legal Career Professionals, and reported by Reuters. Analyzing data from more than 1,100 law firms, the study found that of the 6.2 percent of attorneys who work on what is considered a part-time schedule, more than 70 percent are women.

The idea of part time as womanlymay pose a problem for both women and men who decide that part-time is best for them and their families. While 13.5 percent of female lawyers work a part-time schedule, just 2.7 percent of male lawyers are part-timers. James Leopold, the executive director of NALP—The Association for Legal Career Professionals, put it bluntly: “Firms need to have both women and men at a high level position who are themselves using a part-time schedule so it’s modeled as okay.” Mr. Leopold pointed to law firm culture discouraging the part-time “option.”

“Flextime,” increasingly available for attorneys, is another option that may prove palatable to firms. Beth Kaufman, president of the National Association of Women Lawyers and a litigator at Schoeman Updike Kaufman Stern & Ascher in New York, told Reuters she would prefer firms offer flextime instead of part-time schedules. “I think if a woman is given the opportunity to work on a flextime basis, she is more likely to achieve partnership status. She is not necessarily producing fewer hours; she may be working from home, on weekends, late at night. She may well be producing a lot more revenue that way," Kaufman said.

With a growing spotlight on the realities of parenthood, and the increasing pressure on firms to accommodate their most valued employees at all phases of their lives, alternative work schedules are likely here to stay. Their impact on the lawyer, however, remains to be seen. Reuters reports that, since 2006, the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) has conducted a yearly survey on the retention and promotion of women at AmLaw 200 firms. NAWL’s most recent report found that women have made little progress reaching leadership roles at big law firms, finding that barely 15 percent of a typical AmLaw 100 firm’s equity partners are women.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, part-time, schedules

Emily Wessel Farr, Lincoln Derr PLLC, Charlotte, NC


February 25, 2013

Gender Disparity Persists at Top Law Firms

The struggle for gender equality continues at the nation’s top law firms, The Am Law Daily reports, and while an increasing number of women are finding more promising opportunities at smaller firms or in solo practice, others are choosing to battle it out at Big Law. With the availability of flextime schedules, the family-work balance concerns that once dominated the discussion for women lawyers are no longer the primary issue. According to Am Law Daily, “The conversation now appears to have shifted to money––equal pay, equity partnerships, and training to develop that crucial book of business.”

Surveys show significant pay disparity. A 2010 survey conducted by The Florida Bar shows that women earn just 59 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. The annual survey of the country’s 200 largest law firms, conducted by the National Association of Women Lawyers and the NAWL Foundation, also shows significant pay gaps between male and female equity partners, although not as extreme. Women equity partners earned just 86 percent of that earned by their male counterparts in the 2011 survey year, and 89 percent in the 2012 survey year. A survey spearheaded by legal search consultants Major, Lindsey & Africa shows that the numbers have been going in the wrong direction. According to Am Law Daily, the survey found that the gap widened from 2010 to 2011, “with male partners’ earnings increasing eight percent while women’s decreased three percent in the same period.”

According to Am Law Daily, a lack of transparency regarding compensation may be one contributing factor. Rainmaking––or the lack thereof––may be another. “I think women are perceived as not being good at generating business,” Florida Association of Women Lawyers Laura Wendell is quoted as saying. “It would be helpful for women attorneys to have more mentoring and guidance from successful rainmakers, and that is typically men.”

Learning to manage relationships might also make a difference. A Greenberg Traurig shareholder from Fort Lauderdale, with a successful mergers and acquisitions practice, told Am Law Daily, “I came from banking, where I received lots of training and classes on how to relationship-manage. Law firms in general need to get better at teaching lawyers, especially young lawyers, these skills.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, pay, disparity, law firms

Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI



February 25, 2013

To Negotiate Higher Pay, Focus on the Organization

According to a review of the literature conducted by authors of a recent research report, women negotiating for a higher salary may face accompanying social backlash. In multiple studies, they report, women who ask for more money may be perceived as “less nice and more demanding than women who let the opportunity to negotiate pass.” Women may opt not to ask out of fear of alienating those who might help them advance in the long run.

To find a solution to the gender pay gap in salary negotiations, study authors Hannah Riley Bowles of Harvard University and Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University conducted research aimed at exploring how women can improve their negotiations. Their study, How Can Women Escape the Compensation Negotiation Dilemma? Relational Accounts Are One Answer (Psychology of Women Quarterly, August 24, 2012), starts with the hypothesis that if women combine negotiating in a manner that fulfills the feminine stereotype with their negotiation requests, both negotiation and social outcomes will improve.

The authors put together two studies in which an employee attempted to negotiate higher pay after being promoted to a new management position. The studies used scripted videos showing an employee being interviewed by a company representative. Two white men and two white women were hired to enact four negotiation scripts:

    1. the simple-negotiation where candidates asked for a higher salary and bonus
    2. the relational script where candidates asked for a higher salary and bonus but also expressed concern for organizational relationships
    3. the outside-offer-account where candidates asked for a higher salary and bonus but also explained they had an outside offer for more salary plus bonus
    4. the joint relational-script-plus account, which combined the relational and outside offer account scripts

Study 1 showed that when women expressed concern over relationships with others during salary negotiations, evaluators felt “significantly more willing to work with” negotiators compared with negotiators who employed the “simple negotiation.” The study also showed that when women offered a legitimate account for higher compensation such as an outside offer, evaluators were more willing to grant the compensation request. However, neither strategy, independently or together, did anything to improve both the negotiation for higher pay and the social outcome for women after such negotiations. When women combined a concern for organizational relationships with a legitimate outside offer, the study showed that the relational script did nothing to improve the social stigma of negotiating for a higher salary.

Study 2 tested the hypothesis that using relational accounts would improve both the social and negotiation outcomes. Study 2 employed two scripts devised to improve female negotiators’ social and negotiation outcomes by explaining why a compensation request is legitimate in “relational terms.” The “supervisor-excuse” script presented the logic that the candidate’s supervisor––and not the candidate––should be “blamed” for the salary request. In other words, the candidate’s “team leader” told her to ask about her compensation in the interview. The “skill-contribution” script presented an ideological basis or justification for the negotiation intended to fulfill the feminine stereotype of “see me as a positive contributor, not a selfish demander.” The results of study 2 showed that evaluators were more willing to grant the female negotiator’s compensation request if they used relational accounts “because their requests were perceived to be significantly more legitimate” while making the women appear more relational.

In conclusion, the study suggests that women can improve their negotiation outcomes if they “legitimize their requests in a manner that also communicates their concern for organizational relationships.”

Keywords: woman advocate, career, pay, negotiation, inequity

Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN



January 14, 2013

Influence of Demographics on Career Mobility

It is a commonly recognized conundrum in the legal profession that while women and minorities make up an increasing percentage of law students and associates, their representation among the law firm partnership ranks remains relatively low. In 2009, for instance, women made up 46 percent of associates but only 19 percent of partners at U.S. law firms. Racial minorities made up 20 percent of lawyers, but only 6 percent of partners. In their recent study titled Looking Up and Looking Out: Career Mobility Effects of Demographic Similarity Among Professionals, professors Kathleen L. McGinn and Katherine L. Milkman attempt to address this persistent disparity by “examin[ing] the influence of demographic match with workgroup superiors and workgroup peers on attorneys’ likelihood of turnover and promotion.” In other words, McGinn and Milkman analyzed whether the presence (or absence) of women and racial minorities in both leadership and peer positions impacted a female or minority associate’s potential for advancement within a law firm. To do so, the authors examined personnel records and exit interviews from a large U.S. law firm between 2002 and 2006.

The study resulted in two interesting conclusions. First, the authors found that a greater proportion of female partners in a law firm does in fact increase the career mobility of junior female associates. The authors concluded that, among other reasons, the presence of female partners “provided information to junior women that they could succeed.”  This finding, however, did not hold true for men:  the presence of a higher proportion of male partners had no effect on junior men’s career mobility. The authors did not have sufficient data to assess the impact of same-race superiors on their junior counterparts, but hypothesized that the outcome for racial minorities would be similar to the outcome found for women.

Second, and perhaps more surprisingly, the authors determined that the presence of a higher proportion of same-sex or same-race peers within a law firm actually decreases the chances for promotion, and increases the chances of exit, among female and racial minority associates.  While a higher proportion of male peers similarly increases the likelihood that junior men will exit the firm, it also —and somewhat paradoxically—increases male associates’ chances for promotion.  McGinn and Milkman surmise that the negative correlation between a higher proportion of same-sex, same-race peers and promotion for women and racial minorities may result from the fact that superiors may pick and choose among underrepresented women and minority associates. In addition, those associates may leave in greater numbers because they believe that the competition within their underrepresented demographic reduces their chances of promotion. 

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, demographics, career mobility, minorities, supervisors, peers

Kate T. Spelman, Jenner & Block, Los Angeles, California


January 14, 2013

Dismal Numbers for Women Lawyers Present Opportunities to Improve

The numbers are out in another major annual assessment of retention rates for women at U.S. law firms and they are not overly encouraging.  In U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 edition of Best Law Firms, Roberta D. Liebenberg, a senior partner at Fine, Kaplan & Black, R.P.C., catalogs the low numbers of women in senior leadership ranks and equity partnership at major U.S. law firms. While it seems common knowledge that women make up half of most graduating law school classes and that the majority of new associate hires at law firms are women, it is less understood why something frequently happens to these women lawyers along the way so that as the seniority levels rise, the numbers of women start to drop until women lawyers are almost non-existent in the upper echelons of law firm management.  Liebenberg reports that of the top 200 law firms:

  • almost half have no more than one woman on their highest governing committee
  • 70 percent have no more than one woman on their partnership compensation committee
  • almost half have no women among their “top 10” rainmakers
  • only 5 percent of the firms have women managing partners

  • Rather than lament this perplexing state of affairs, Liebenberg points out that law firm leaders set the tone for the advancement of women lawyers within the firm and offers several well-placed suggestions law firms can implement to halt this disturbing trend, including:

  • Take measures to reward lawyers who contribute to the firm’s diversity initiatives and hold accountable lawyers who fail to do so
  • Set specific goals and monitor metrics for women lawyers in leadership positions and on key firm-management committees
  • Institute gender-neutral evaluations to negate implicit biases and move away from billable-hour based compensation to more objective measures of performance in order to account for women lawyers’ often enhanced family responsibilities
  • Seek to destigmatize flex-time or part-time work arrangements so that lawyers that choose this path are not penalized or forced off the partnership track

  • Individually, women lawyers should be proactive in promoting themselves and take risks.  “Advocate on your own behalf the same way you advocate for your clients,” Liebenberg counsels. This can be accomplished by being visible at the firm and in one’s community; strategically networking; engaging in meaningful mentoring relationships; and making oneself accessible during crucial times if one chooses to work a part-time schedule. While acknowledging the substantial investment law firms make in the hiring of women lawyers, Liebenberg encourages firms to actively nurture this commitment for the betterment of the firm, the women lawyers, and clients, who are increasingly looking for more than surface level diversity as a selling point in today’s highly competitive legal marketplace.

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, large law firms, retention rates, leadership positions

    Allison Kernisky, Holland & Knight, Miami, Florida


    November 13, 2012

    Survey Paints Bleak Picture of Women in Large Law Firms

    A recent survey of the nation's 200 largest law firms has yielded disappointing results on the career path of women lawyers. The Seventh Annual NAWL National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, conducted by the National Association of Women Lawyers and the NAWL Foundation, shows that women have not penetrated the highest levels of large- law-firm practice and leadership in any significant numbers. Further, the survey shows that the proportion of women entering into practice with large firms has decreased for the second year in a row. "If this trend continues," the NAWL Foundation said in a press release, "it could trigger a downward spiral for women in the profession—we could see fewer women senior partners and law-firm leaders in the future, and thus fewer role models and mentors for succeeding cohorts of women lawyers."

    According to the survey report, increasing numbers of women are in positions which offer little opportunity for advancement, such as that of staff attorney, counsel, or fixed-income equity partner. One trend noted was the rising use of staff attorneys, 70% of which are women. While some women are "pleased" with that role and the work/life balance it allows, the survey report expressed "disappointment" that "so many law firms have not yet figured out how to develop policies and practices to retain women lawyers without simply relegating them to a bottom-tier role."

    Other highlights described in the survey report include the following:

    1. "Female flight" from large law firms "starts early and accelerates over time."
    2. At all levels, median billable and total hours for women lag behind men.
    3. Women have a smaller median book of business than men "even though their business development efforts may be substantial."
    4. There has been a slight decline over the past two years in the percentages of women equity partners and associates in the typical law firm. Survey data shows that women comprise "barely 15 percent" of the equity partners in a typical firm, a statistic that has essentially remained unchanged during the survey's seven-year history.
    5. Typically, only 20 percent of the positions on a firm's highest-governing committee are held by women. A woman is the firm-wide managing partner in only four percent of the firms.

    The survey report explains that "along every dimension of comparison, and in spite of law firms' expressed support for gender equity, women have not made significant progress either economically or in reaching leadership roles during the seven years the survey has measured the impact of gender in law firms."

    On the brighter side, the survey report notes a narrowing of the gender pay gap among non-equity partners. In 2006, the median pay for female nonequity partners was 84 percent of their male colleagues; they now earn 98 percent of the compensation earned by male nonequity partners. The gap is greater among equity partners. This year's survey showed that women equity partners earn about 89 percent of their male counterparts, a slight improvement from the 86 percent gap observed in 2011. However, the survey also showed that median compensation for equity partners overall has been declining each year since 2008. "Thus, rather than saying that women equity partners have gained ground," the survey report explains, "a more apt observation might be that women equity partners have suffered disproportionately less than men."

    The survey report was surprised to find that the level of business credited to equity partners appeared not to correlate to their compensation levels (although there was no expectation that billings would be "the exclusive touchstone of compensation"). Typically, a woman equity partner's compensation was 63 percent of her billings, compared to 57 percent of billings for male counterparts. But the survey concluded that the median compensation gap among men and women equity partners "cannot be explained either by reference to relative hours worked or to relative billings credited." The factors used and how they are weighted is unclear. "The Survey data highlight the fact that "compensation systems in large law firms typically lack transparency" with "the potential for unintended bias to affect the process in ways that disadvantage women lawyers disproportionately," the survey report explains.

    The survey report is available at Nawl.org or Nawlfoundation.org. On November 13, 2012, Stephanie Scharf, the NAWL Foundation president, will broadcast remarks on the survey via teleconference to regional "brown bag" lunches throughout the country. The event is sponsored by the Women Advocate Committee of the American Bar Association. To locate a meeting near you, contact regional meeting cochairs, Evelyn Storch at estorch@harwoodlloyd.com and Heather White at Heather.White@smithmoorelaw.com or view the announcement on the Woman Advocate committee's website.

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, large law firms, retention, promotion, National Association of Women Lawyers, NAWL survey, gender pay gap, female flight, equity and nonequity partners

    —–Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, Michigan



    >November 5, 2012

    New York Sees Slight Rise in Bench Representation

    The number of women judges in New York has increased 6 percent over the last 10 years, according to a Law360 article on a study conducted at the Albany Law School. The decade-long study, titled Women in Federal and State-Level Judgeships, found that women currently comprise 31 percent of all federal and state judges in New York, up from 25 percent in 2002.  New York, which ranks 11th out of 50 states for percentage of women judges, beat the national average of 24 percent for women judges at the federal level and saw larger gains at the state level. 

    The study reveals striking geographic disparities amongst the number of women judges in New York, with larger female representation in the southern part of the state, especially in and around New York City. For example, women make up over 40 percent of judges in the southerly United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, while there are only two female judges in the upstate Northern District. 


    Additionally, the type of court and selection process both seem to affect how many women hold a judgeship in a particular court, according to the study.  Family courts and civil courts, where judges are elected, have seen the largest increases in women judges.  But in county-level courts and courts where judgeships are appointed, progress has lagged, the study shows.


    Dina Refki, the study’s author and the executive director of the law school’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, expects women will have more opportunities in the coming years as many current male judges retire and create vacancies. Another indicator of the likelihood of increased numbers of women judges comes from law schools, where 50 percent of recent graduates are female.

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, woman judges, federal and state-level judgeships, bench representation

    —–Allison Kernisky, Holland & Knight



    October 15, 2012

    Female Partners Earn 30% Less Than Male Partners

    According to a recent Law 360 article, the pay gap between male and female partners continues to grow. Major Lindsey and ALM Legal Intelligence surveyed over 2,200 partners across the nation to analyze partner compensation. According to the survey, partner compensation in law firms averaged approximately $680,000 in 2012, but with growing disparities across the gender divide. Specifically, in 2012, male partners earned on average $734,000 while female partners averaged $497,000, or approximately two-thirds as much as male partners. Comparatively, in 2010, male partners earned $675,000 and women partners earned $513,000.

    Jeffrey Lowe, the global practice leader and author of the survey, noted that the women he spoke to were not surprised by the results and seemed resigned to the disparity.

    The growing pay gap is also seen in equity and nonequity partner compensation. In 2012, equity partners earned an average of $896,000, two-and-a-half times more than nonequity partners who averaged $335,000. In 2010, equity partners averaged $811,000 and nonequity partners earned $336,000, slightly more than their present-day average.

    The disparity is also highlighted in comparing firms with open and closed compensation systems. In open compensation systems, partners earned $810,000 on average. Comparatively, partners in closed systems earned $465,000—a difference of roughly 42 percent. Partners in partially open system earned on average $515,000.

    According to Lowe, partners are concerned with the level of cronyism that affects partnership-compensation decisions. Lowe stated, however, that origination also continues to drive compensation.

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, career, pay, inequity

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


    October 10, 2012

    "Undeterred" and Other Traits of Successful Women Business Leaders

    Only four percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, reports Forbes guest columnist Elissa Sangster, but with one-third of MBA spots now occupied by women, “the pipeline is improving.” This next generation of women business leaders might be well advised to take a few cues from the four percent who beat the odds. Ms. Sangster, who is the executive director of the Forté Foundation, an organization that promotes and advises women in business, has a top 10 list.

    Successful women will not be deterred, Ms. Sangster reports, despite “the persistent underrepresentation of women” in the business world. They adopt a “know thyself” mantra to identify career opportunities and ways to improve performance. “[W]omen leaders tell us that insight and self-knowledge are key,” Ms. Sangster writes. “[F]ind a mentor, and learn to ask for and accept honest feedback.”

    Success in business and family life are not mutually exclusive. Women leaders find ways to make it all work. If they “take a career off-ramp,” they learn the way back and get the domestic help they need to “save their sanity” (whether a full-time nanny or someone to clean the house). Finding an organization in line with their values and passion is also key and trumps the trappings of job title and salary.

    Successful women learn how to negotiate and don’t wait to be recognized. They “find appropriate ways to summarize their achievements and take credit for their performance,” Ms. Sangster explains. They build relationships with colleagues, cultivate their networks, remain flexible, and don’t plan their career moves too far in advance. Continuing education may also be key. Many have found that obtaining an MBA was “a game changer.”

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, gender, income, career, women, leader

    Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI


    September 6, 2012

    More Women General Counsel at Fortune 500 Companies

    According to a survey that will appear in its upcoming bi-monthly publication of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), women served as general counsel at 21 percent of Fortune 500 companies in 2011—more than ever before. According to MCCA’s annual survey, 108 women served as general counsel in 2011 compared with 101 the previous year.

    Approximately 16 percent of female general counsel identified themselves as minorities, making the 2011 group the most diverse since the inception of MCCA’s annual survey in 1999. The 2011 group included 11 African Americans, four Hispanics, two Asian/Pacific Islanders, and one of Middle Eastern origin.

    About 50 percent of female general counsel in 2011 worked at Fortune 500 companies located in six states: California (12 companies), New York (11 companies), Texas (10 companies), Illinois (eight companies), New Jersey (seven companies), and Virginia (seven companies).

    The number of female general counsel has grown significantly, with 23 added since 2009. Joseph K. West, MCCA president and CEO, commented that he “see[s] this trend continuing as more companies recognize the outstanding legal and leadership skills of these professional women.”

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, Fortune 500 companies, general counsel, diversity

    Louise N. Smith, Barrett & Farahany, LLP, Atlanta, GA


    September 6, 2012

    Gender Gap in Equity Partnership Improves at a Slow Pace

    While the vast majority of law firms offer various programs and initiatives aimed at promoting women, the actual percentage of women promoted to equity partner has increased only slightly over the last 20 years.

    According to a recent survey conducted by the National Law Journal (NLJ), women represent only 15.1 percent of equity partners in the 221 largest firms in the United States. In 2011, the National Association of Women Lawyers reported that women have been fixed at 15 percent of the equity-partner ranks for the past 20 years. When nonequity partners are included in the calculation, both the figure and the rate of progress is slightly better, with women currently representing 18.8 percent of combined equity and nonequity partners in large firms—an increase from 16 percent in 2003.

    Furthermore, of the top 20 large firms with the highest percentage of female partners, women make up more than 25 percent of equity partners in only five. And of these five firms, in only one do women comprise more than 40 percent of equity partners, with the percentage hovering between 26 and 29 in the remaining four.

    Of note is that regional and highly specialized firms, including immigration, energy and mining, employment law, and municipal finance, dominate the top 20 firms with the highest percentage of female partners. Also, of these 20 firms, only one—the largest—made The American Lawyer’s list of the highest-grossing firms in the United States.

    This being said, there are signs of increased progress going forward. Within the last 10 years, there has been a notable rise in the number of national law firms considered to be big players that have more than 20 percent women in their equity ranks. Indeed, nine years ago, there was only one Am Law 100 firm with more than 20 percent female equity partners, whereas now there is a total of six such firms on the list—Davis Polk and Wilmer, Covington & Burling; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Ropes & Gray; and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

    In addition to these large firms, there has also been a noted increase in female equity partnerships in profitable firms—those with profits per partner exceeding $2 million. The NLJ notes that a common attribute among these profitable firms is a one-tier partnership track. According to the NLJ study, women seem to fare better in one-tier firms, with women comprising 17.6 percent of the equity partners in single-tier firms and only 14.7 percent in those with two tiers. One reason for this distinction may be that women in two-tier systems tend to get pushed into the nonequity ranks.

    In the end, the NLJ study concluded that, while upward movement for women in the equity partnership ranks to date has been slow, there are positive signs for continued improvement in the country’s largest, most profitable firms going forward.

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, gender gap, equity partnership, partnership, promotion

    —Angela A. Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.


    August 8, 2012

    Lunch Featuring ABA President Bellows a Huge Success

    On July 25, 2012, the Woman Advocate Committee hosted a terrific networking and learning teleconference featuring an address by incoming ABA President Laurel Bellows. Ms. Bellows spoke with passion about several topics of interest to her and to WAC members, ranging from the advancement of women attorneys, including the difficulties in spotting and overcoming gender bias and the importance of sponsorship, to the travesty of human trafficking. After her remarks, Ms. Bellows answered questions posed by WAC members including how ABA members can help her reach the goals she has set for her presidency, as well as steps that we can all take to promote the advancement of women in our profession. As a step each of us can take to advance women, Ms. Bellows challenges all of us to sponsor other women and to commend their accomplishments in the presence of others. These suggestions are in line with President Bellows’ appointment of a task force on gender equality and her plan to issue daily “tweets” on gender equality issues.

    Members of the Woman Advocate Committee hosted gatherings in 31 cities around the country to listen to Ms. Bellows’ address. The gatherings featured coffee or lunch, as appropriate for the time zone, and many attendees enjoyed sharing exchanging their thoughts and suggestions afterward. An outgrowth of WAC’s successful regional networking lunch program, the teleconference marked WAC’s first contemporaneous gathering of members and guests nationwide. We’re sure it will not be the last! Keep checking this website for postings about future programs linking members across the nation and future regional networking lunches.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, ABA president, Laurel Bellows

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH


    August 7, 2012

    Flexibility—The Superpower All Working Moms Need

    Women have recently been told by Anne-Marie Slaughter that we, in fact, still don’t, and maybe can’t, have it all. Enter Marissa Mayer. After being named CEO of Yahoo and announcing her pregnancy to the public, Mayer quickly became the female champion of “having it all.” Of course, that definition includes an abbreviated maternity leave during which Mayer will “work throughout.” In her article “How to Balance Motherhood and Career (If You’re Not Marissa Mayer),” Christa Carone points out that for most working moms, the concept of “having it all” just isn’t possible. Those like Mayer—and Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and even, Anne-Marie Slaughter—are unique cases. Their choices, and the fact that they have them, aren’t reality for most working women.

    Carone, the chief marketing officer at Xerox, bluntly states that “[j]uggling a career and a family isn’t easy. In fact, it’s hard as hell . . . and no one has everything figured out.” Rather than focusing on the likes of Mayer, she calls for an honest conversation about how less-than-superhero working women actually prioritize and balance on a day-to-day basis. In turn, she also provides her own practical advice to those women trying to walk the tightrope between work and home:

    • Be a superstar employee from the very beginning because this will garner respect, and give you flexibility in the long run.
    • Be true to yourself and understand who you are and what you want in life. And, don’t apologize for investing your time in what is important to you.
    • Be honest—you’re not superhuman. In other words, recognize that you have limits and can’t be everything to everybody. Carone points out that this might mean missing a school field trip or a business dinner.
    • Understand that your priorities and interests will change throughout your life and that your ambition will change as well.
    • Realize that flexibility is a two-way street. If you want a company to be flexible about where and when employees work, recognize that “[s]ometimes work does need to win.” This might mean that work creeps into family time or the weekend or that certain business trips, meetings or work events can’t be missed.
    • Before you join a company, understand its culture. For Carone, the flexibility of Xerox is the main reason she has stayed there.
    • Face it—some jobs (or companies) aren’t right for you.

    Carone herself is pretty high up on the corporate food chain and likely has more choices than your average working mom, but her advice is practical and her point well-taken. To her, the key is flexibility—on both sides of the equation. Companies or law firms who want to attract and retain top female talent need to recognize the need for flexibility, not only in the day-to-day work environment but also in the bigger picture over the span of a person’s career. Similarly an employee or lawyer demanding flexibility from a workplace needs to show similar flexibility in meeting a company or a client’s needs. Such fluidity might not be what some would call “having it all,” but to Carone, it is a way to “lead a very full life that includes a rewarding career and a happy family.”


    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, working moms

    Molly C. Taylor, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL





    July 19, 2012

    The Truth as to "Why Women Still Can't Have It All"

    Anne-Marie Slaughter's recent article "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," published in the June edition of the Atlantic, has reignited the ongoing debate about work-life balance. The article explores the falsehood that women can "have it all." But as Ms. Slaughter has succinctly declared: "It's time to stop fooling ourselves."

    Ms. Slaughter aptly points out that if more women could strike a work-life balance, more women would reach leadership positions; in turn, they would make it easier for more women to stay in the workforce. According to Ms. Slaughter, one of the biggest impediments to achieving a work-life balance is the "time macho" culture that still pervades the professional world. The pressure to put in "face time" at the office—arriving early, staying late, and working weekends—is commonly expected, but not necessarily effective. Ms. Slaughter suggests that one way to change this is to change the "baseline expectations about when, where, and how work will be done."

    One of Ms. Slaughter's more startling examples of women at the top not being able to "have it all" is in her comparison of the Supreme Court justices. While every male Supreme Court justice has a family, two of the three female justices are single with no children. The third female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began her career as a judge only after her youngest child was nearly grown. Similarly, Condoleezza Rice, the first and only woman national-security adviser, is the only national-security adviser since the 1950s who does not have a family.

    Ms. Slaughter also identifies the following "half-truths" that women are told—and should stop telling—when discussing how women manage to "have it all":

    • It's possible if you are just committed enough. This is the argument that women today are not committed enough to make the same sacrifices that women ahead of them have made. In other words, "if we can do it, they can do it." According to Ms. Slaughter, the issue is not a woman's ambition, but rather America's social and business policies that make it difficult for a woman to balance work and life.


    • It's possible if you marry the right person. This is the proposition that women can have it all if their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load. But Ms. Slaughter notes that society must change and come to collectively value choices that put family ahead of career.

    • It's possible if you sequence it right. This is the idea that if you order family and career in the right sequence, you can have it all. The problem with this "half-truth" is that neither sequence—kids first, then career; or career first, then kids—is optimal.

    Ms. Slaughter notes that to honestly and productively discuss solutions to the issues faced by professional women, these half-truths need to be dispelled. If we can change our assumptions, we can begin to change our perceptions and responses. According to Ms. Slaughter, if women are to achieve real equality as leaders, "we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal."

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, income, children, career

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN



    June 27, 2012

    Actionable Advice for Young Women Lawyers

    Do not get on the diversity committee at your firm. “Please don’t do it!” Victoria Pynchon, attorney-mediator and author of The Negotiation Law Blog, says in a recent video on Forbes.com, titled “How Young Women Lawyers Can Succeed at Big Law.” Why? The short answer, according to Pynchon, is that diversity committees lack power, as do hiring committees. Rather, young women should get on the finance or other committees where the true power within the organization lies.

    Pynchon, who graduated law school in 1980, recounts that the contributions of her generation of women lawyers were in simply “occupying” law firms. Making their presence known, staying onboard when gender inequalities were apparent, and succeeding within the firm as much as possible. The new generation is different, Pynchon says. While today women make up a modest 15–16 percent of equity partners at AmLaw 200 firms, Pynchon urges this is a “critical mass,” sufficient to propel women to reach equal representation in equity partnership and close the leadership and income gaps in a few short years. Pynchon advises an active approach to young women lawyers, enabling growth of their careers to make new contributions and increase representation in leadership and equity partnership positions.

    Here is an overview of Pynchon’s advice:

    1. Pick your sponsors and mentors wisely and early. What exactly is a sponsor and how is this person different from a mentor? “A sponsor” Pynchon explains, “is someone that puts their skin in your game.” A sponsor will advocate on your behalf and voice the importance of your climbing the ranks to her fellow equity partners, but the trick lies in aptly selecting your sponsor.
    2. Set sights on your eventual practice area and join relevant bar associations. Become a “worker among workers” by obtaining committee assignments and getting to know others through this capacity, Pynchon advises, because you or partners in your firm are bound to change firms during the tenure of your career.
    3. Start cultivating clients. Direct, in-person meetings with the general counsel of a company are not expected from a young attorney. Nevertheless, young women lawyers can establish relationships with the junior in-house attorneys by being service-oriented and becoming the go-to person over time. Pynchon emphasizes that young women must think and act along the lines of having “your own business.”
    4. Become involved with the power committees in your firm. Pynchon explains that young women lawyers can make sharper, more powerful decisions early in their career, such that by the time they have children, women are reaping the benefits of those earlier decisions. As mentioned, Pynchon argues that young women lawyers should not waste time with firm committees that lack power, but should set their sights on those committees that are within the power structure of the firm.

    View an interview with Victoria Pynchon in which she provides advice to women lawyers.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, law firm, sponsors

    Claudia D. Hartleben, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Washington, D.C.



    June 27, 2012

    Leadership Bias—Male CEOs get the Advantage with Investors over Female CEOs

    New research suggests that gender considerations affect how much investors are willing to pour into a business. According to a working paper recently released by researchers from the University of Utah and Washington University in St Louis, IPO firms led by male Founder/CEOs are more attractive to investors than IPO firms led by female Founder/CEOs.

    The study revealed that even when male and female CEOs shared identical performance histories, experience, and qualifications, female CEOs were still regarded as less experienced, less able to lead, and less likely to resolve disputes and board deadlocks than their male counterparts. The study reaffirmed that gender bias is not so much about numbers as it is about attitudes and cultures.

    In the study, groups of MBA students were presented with data on fictitious companies and were asked to evaluate whether the firms would be good investments. The results showed that the students were four times more likely to invest in the IPOs of firms with male CEOs than of those with female CEOs. Moreover, the anticipated share price of IPO stock was eleven percent higher for firms with male CEOs than for those with female CEOs.

    It is well established that gender biases also play a part in job evaluation procedures. However, new research out of Harvard suggests that organizations may overcome gender biases in job assignment and promotion by grouping employees of different genders or ethnic backgrounds together during performance reviews. According to the research, joint rather than individual reviews can force managers to be more conscious of gender stereotypes.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, female, CEOs, gender, bias

    Louise N. Smith, Barrett & Farahany, LLP, Atlanta, GA



    June 5, 2012

    Marriage Structures—Predictor of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

    Women attorneys still face a lot of resistance in the workplace, but the source of that resistance is often debated. A new study entitled Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace suggests that the source of some resistance may be indicated by one’s choice of marriage structure. The study, featured in Are Women Held Back by Colleagues’ Wives by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, compared the attitudes of men in both traditional and modern marriages and found “married male employees who have stay-at-home wives” generally posed more resistance to the presence and advancement of women in the workplace.

    This study found a consistent pattern of results that men in traditional marriages “are more likely to exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are harmful to women in the workplace.” Specifically, these men “tend to (a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with higher numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) find organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, and (d) deny, more frequently, qualified female employees opportunities for promotion.”

    Based on the study, Rikleen suggests marriage structures “affect how people view gender roles and how they categorize others.” She states that “this can happen even unconsciously” as demonstrated by the Center for Work-Life Policy HBR Research Report which found that “only 28% of men, compared with 49% of women, see gender bias as still prevalent in the workplace.”

    It may be that strong and talented women in the workplace are perceived, even if only subconsciously, as a challenge to personal beliefs about marriage roles. Rikleen states that in her own research many male colleagues claimed that “the success of married women as equity partners invalidated” their own marriage choices. The answer to this conflict for Rikleen is “increased awareness,” as well as “better training so everyone understands how their own experiences might affect their perceptions about their colleagues’ fitness for leadership.”

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, partners, business development, women, men, gender, bias

    Amber Pershon, Phoenix School of Law, Phoenix, AZ



    May 23, 2012

    Career Ambitions of Younger Women Are On the Rise

    According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, about two-thirds of women between the ages of 18 and 34 cite a high-paying career among their top life priorities. This is compared to just 59 percent of young men. The survey results differed significantly from those in 1997 wherein only 56 percent of such women placed career success on their list of high priorities—less than the 58 percent of men were surveyed at that time.

    While young women are more concerned with career success than before, it appears they “want it all.” The survey suggests that while young women now put a higher value than men on their career, this is in addition to, and not at the expense of having a family, marriage, and parenthood remain key life goals.

    This rebalance of priorities may be the result of the current economic realities that result in an increasing share of families’ financial burden being on women. Other factors cited by economic professionals include increased reproductive rights, delayed marriage, access to top colleges, the abundance of other successful women as role models, and professions that were once relatively closed now open to women.

    Other studies have shown that women who choose to “have it all” do so at the expense of their overall happiness. In other words, for some women, greater career ambition means less free time and a decline in overall happiness. These studies have shown that, starting at a young age, many women put increased pressure on themselves to excel at their studies while at the same time engage in extracurricular activities. This structured lifestyle in the pursuit of success does not leave women time to “just hang out” and enjoy free time.

    Finally, according to the Pew survey, this drive for success is less common among the older generation in that a much smaller share of women between the ages of 35 and 64 placed a lucrative career at the top of their list of life goals.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career, women, success, pay, goals

    ––Angela A. Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.



    May 2, 2012

    Adjustments to Networks are Needed to Make Them Useful for Women

    The majority of women surveyed at the Simmons Leadership Conference last year were less than enthusiastic about the effectiveness of their at-work networks in promoting their careers. Nearly 80 percent of the 166 middle to senior-level businesswomen who participated in the survey ranked their network “somewhat effective” or “not effective.” But it may be that women are neglecting their networks. Approximately 70 percent of the women who participated in the survey were not actively involved in their networks; this is the same percentage of women that were unsure of their network’s value. Greater satisfaction existed among women who were active network participants. The study reports that African-American women, who were more likely to be actively involved in their networks, were also more likely to believe that their networks were effective in promoting women.

    The study, which was conducted by the Simmons College School of Management, identified skill-building opportunities (such as training, sharing best practices, mentoring, and coaching) and visibility to senior management as the most valued aspects of women’s networks. Other useful services include seminars or webinars, community service, volunteer activities, and career development book groups. Social events and assistance with family issues were reported to be the least valued. Networks that were rated “very effective” met frequently, had open eligibility, and were partially or fully funded. Male participation through sponsorship and managerial support was also seen by survey participants as contributing to the effectiveness of a network. The three most frequent themes on the subject of improving women’s networks were to increase senior management involvement; to provide more concrete, planned programming; and to improve organization and communication.

    The survey respondents were typically well-educated, reasonably affluent, successful women with extensive work experience. Read more survey results and reports.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, network, women

    Joanne Geha Swanson , Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI.



    April 17, 2012

    Female Academic Achievement and Earnings

    “Why do women perform so much better in school than their male classmates? And why hasn’t this academic prowess translated into higher earnings for women than for men?” The answer to the first question may supply the answer to the second, according to a recent article, “Women’s Successes in School . . . Bleed Away in Their Paychecks,” recently published in the National Journal.

    Considering nearly 30 years has elapsed since women began their educational climb, patience is no longer an acceptable solution for the income disparities between women and men, suggests the author. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, men with a bachelors degree earned a median $62,440, versus $46,830 for women, among year-round employees over the age of 25. Additionally, women with a master’s degree earned less, on average, than men with only a B.A. Despite these statistics, however, disparity doesn’t become immediately apparent out of college. In fact, young, single, college-educated women without children earn close to or even more than their male counterparts, says Nancy Folbre, an economist at the University of Massachusetts.

    It is no mystery that things change as women approach their child-rearing years. Indeed, career paths, particularly in higher-paying, formerly male-dominated fields, are often timed in ways that make it harder to serve the dual roles of mother and professional. Lawyers aiming for partner, doctors completing their residencies, and MBAs climbing the corporate ladder all face the obstacles of reaching those goals well into their 30s, toward the end of a woman’s childbearing years.

    Does awareness of these difficulties cause women to self-select out of more lucrative professions? Paula England, a New York University sociologist, says it does. Her research indicates that undergraduate majors and fields of Ph.D. study “continue to be very sex-segregated” and women continue pursuing majors that lead to lower-paying employment. Self-selection is also seen in education at the professional level. Women receive only 37 percent of MBAs, women doctors gravitate toward family practice over higher-paying surgery, and “freshly minted female lawyers tend to choose public-interest law over a corporate practice,” according to the author.

    The author suggests that “[t]he answer may lie in a fault line that runs through the U.S. education system from pre-K to Ph.D.: a mismatch between qualities that the schools reward versus those that the real world will prize.” Thus, although girls outperform boys in school due to their superior communication and interpersonal skills, they also succeed “because of a greater willingness to follow rules, line up quietly, and listen.” The latter skills don’t count for a lot in a quick, globally competitive economy that “rewards assertiveness and innovation over sitting still or knowing which bubbles to fill in on a standardized test.” “Women need boldness to strike into male-dominated majors,” the author states.

    So, what about the obstacles of child-rearing? Mentorship and planning ahead can make a big difference, suggests Mary Ann Mason, a University of California at Berkeley law professor, and the first woman to serve as the school’s graduate dean. “Young women are unaware of how difficult it becomes fitting childbirth into your career plans. But . . . if you think in advance, it becomes easier.” How exactly does it become easier to juggle the converging timeline of reaching the pinnacle of your career and raising children? The author doesn’t offer an answer. But getting back to money talk, women with mentors saw their salaries rise 27 percent higher than women without, according to Catalyst, the women’s professional organization.

    Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, income, children, women, education

    Claudia Hartleben, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Washington, D.C.


    April 17, 2012

    “Women in the Law” Survey

    LexisNexis and the Law Society, an organization that represents, protects, and promotes solicitors in England and Wales, recently commissioned a survey entitled “Women in the Law.” The survey notes that while women in recent years have accounted for more than half of the new entrants into the legal profession, far more women than men leave the practice of law well in advance of normal retirement age. It aims to establish how far women have come in the legal profession, to ascertain the barriers to women’s career development in law firms, and to determine what can be done to address those barriers.

    Of the 1,100 worldwide respondents to the survey, 85 percent were from an “Anglo-connected” country and 90 percent were female.

    According to the survey results, 64 percent of respondents acknowledged that gender diversity is an important commercial issue for their law firms. Just over 30 percent of respondents, however, believe that quotas are necessary to achieve diversity.

    When asked what is the primary reason that more women do not attain senior-level positions, the respondents identified the time and effort required to reach senior-level status as the biggest impediment. Many respondents also cited unconscious gender bias within the legal profession and that traditional networks/routes to promotion are male-orientated.

    When asked to name the biggest change law firms could make to encourage more women to reach senior levels in law firms, the most common response was to adopt more flexible working practices. The second most common response was for law firms to change the way they assess performance (i.e. changing the performance metrics to allow for fewer hours in the office).

    Based on the responses, the study’s authors concluded that the biggest changes required, according to survey respondents, are cultural.

    Keywords: women, law firm, career development

    Candace Duff, Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Miami, FL


    March 30, 2012

    Join the WAC at the Section of Litigation’s Annual Conference in D.C.

    Please join the Woman Advocate Committee and register for the Section of Litigation’s Annual CLE Conference in Washington, D.C., April 18–20. Ample opportunities exist for members to network and get the benefit of outstanding programming sponsored by our committee. 


    The Woman Advocate Committee will hold a committee meeting on Wednesday, April 18, 4:00p.m.–5:00p.m. at the JW Marriott.

    Join WAC members and friends for dinner on Wednesday, April 18. If you would like to be added to the list to receive additional information, contact Lisa Garrison by email or by phone, at (336)378–5432. Dinner will be held at the JW Marriott.

    On Thursday, April 19, there will be a Practice Area & Networking Discussion Lunch beginning at 12:15p.m. This is a box lunch event that provides a great opportunity for the committee to meet with members.  Please be sure to purchase a ticket ($25) for this event with your registration. 

    Stop by the WAC station at the Committee Expo on April 19, 6:00p.m.–7:00p.m. 

    Lastly, join us at the Committee Networking Coffee Hour, April 20, 7:30p.m.–8:30p.m.

    Programming in which the WAC is involved: 
    The Woman Advocate Committee is also involved several CLEs:

    • Plunder or Blunder: E-Discovery in the Age of Social Media––Mining for Gold and Dodging the Silver Bullet, April 19, 10:00a.m. 
    • Good Works Equals Good Business––a discussion of why diversity, mentoring, and pro bono efforts are smart business choices, April 19, 10:00a.m.
    • Xavier or Magneto? Mentoring Lessons from the X-Men, April 20, 1:45p.m.
    • Ethics Surrounding Attorney Fees:  How to Agree to Them, Collect Them, Keep Them, and Persuasively Seek Them as Sanctions, April 20, 3:00p.m.

    Section-wide Events:

    Lastly, join WAC members at the following section-wide events:

    There will be a Welcome & Outreach Reception for the entire Section of Litigation on Wednesday, April 18, 6:30p.m.–8:00p.m. at the JW Marriott.

    An Evening at the Smithsonian will be held on Thursday, April 19, 7:30p.m.–10:30p.m. at the National Museum of American History. Purchase your ticket ($100) for this event with your registration.

    We look forward to seeing you in D.C.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, CLE, annual meeting

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH


    March 6, 2012

    Survey Discredits Myths about Juror Perceptions of Women in the Courtroom

    In its most recent newsletter, Decision Quest, a trial consulting firm, provided a summary of the results from its yearlong survey of several hundred jurors from across the country concerning women in the courtroom.

    According to Decision Quest, the responses to the survey discredited many myths about juror perceptions of women in the courtroom. Overall, 61 percent of respondents felt that the perception of female attorneys has improved over time. When asked to describe in their own words the differences between male and female attorneys, the responses demonstrated that jurors do not believe there are significant differences. For example, one juror wrote, “I believe female attorneys are just as qualified, effectual, and successful in the courtroom as their male counterparts.” According to Decision Quest, this sentiment was shared by a large contingent of the respondents.

    One surprising discovery was that even though jurors expressed their personal belief that gender was not significant in attorneys, they doubted whether their peers shared the same view. For example, one respondent stated that “I don’t think [female attorneys] are any less qualified than males, but I would prefer a male attorney because, sadly, there are sexists in juries and they’re most likely going to favor male lawyers.”

    The authors of the survey also concluded that even though old stereotypes “die hard,” the data collected indicated that women have “little left to fear.” For example:

    • 82 percent of respondents disagree that female attorneys are “shrill and overbearing.”
    • 95 percent of respondents stated that male attorneys are aggressive, compared to 91 percent who felt that female attorneys are aggressive.
    • Many respondents who stated that female attorneys are more aggressive also noted that they believed aggression was a positive trait.
    • Those who felt that female attorneys are less aggressive stated this was a positive trait because “[f]emale attorneys are better because they can typically invoke more emotion than male attorneys.”

    The article concludes that the survey demonstrates that gender does not matter to jurors and that what actually matters is authenticity, organization, and sincerity.

    Does this survey establish that the problem is actually attorneys’ perceptions about jurors? One article posted by Forbes casts doubt on the optimistic conclusions of the Decision Quest researchers and cautions that the results should be taken with a grain of salt. The author points out that most people respond to surveys in a manner that creates a favorable self assessment and that the survey does not “reveal either the presence or the absence of unconscious or implicit bias.”

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, juror, perception, gender, bias

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH and St. Petersburg, FL


    March 2, 2012

    The Advancement of Women in ABA Leadership

    The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession recently issued its annual Goal III Report on “Women’s Advancement into Leadership Positions in the American Bar Association.” The commission, established in 1987, assesses the status of women in the legal profession, identifies barriers to advancement, and recommends actions to address problems identified by the commission.

    In 2008, the ABA implemented Goal III (formerly Goal IX), which seeks to promote full and equal participation in the ABA, the legal profession, and the justice system by all persons, and to eliminate bias. The annual Goal III Report is a snapshot report that analyzes women’s participation in the Association’s Board of Governors, House of Delegates, committees, sections and divisions, standing and special committees, and forum committees.

    According to the report, in the past few years, women lawyers joined the ABA in numbers commensurate with or higher than the percentage of women in the profession. In 2011–2012, women comprise 31.7 percent of the lawyer members of the ABA and 31 percent of the profession. It is important to note, however, that women comprised 47.1 percent of the graduates of the nation’s law schools in 2010. Thus, the percentage of women law school graduates is considerably higher than the percentage of women in the profession.

    Key highlights of the report include the following:

    • Overall, women comprise 31.9 percent of the ABA’s House of Delegates.
    • Women constitute 36.8 percent of the ABA’s Board of Governors.
    • Women represent 38.1 percent of members of ABA sections and divisions.
    • Women chair 8 of the 28 ABA sections and divisions (28.6 percent). This percentage is less than the percentages of women lawyers in the profession and women lawyers in the ABA.
    • Women represent 33.2 percent of ABA section/division officers.
    • Eight sections/divisions have women holding 50 percent or more of their offices.
    • Eleven sections/divisions have a higher percentage of women officers than the percentage of their women membership.
    • Overall, women comprise 39.5 percent of the membership of section/division councils.
    • Women comprise 43.6 percent of section/division nominating committee membership.
    • Women constitute 37.0 percent of section/division committee chairs and vice-chairs.

    The commission also identified the following areas of concern:

    • Currently, the following 14 jurisdictions have no women delegates: Alabama, American Samoa, Delaware, Guam, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.
    • Ten states––Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington––have at least two delegates elected by ABA entities (sections, for example), none of whom are women.
    • The percentage of women section and division chairs is in a significant downward trend, from 32.1 percent in 2008–2010 and 39.3 percent in 2010–2011 to 28.6 percent in 2011–2012. Women chair 8 of the 28 sections and divisions, which is three fewer than in 2010-2011.
    • The percentage of women chairs-elect for 2011–2012 is even lower, at 25.9 percent.

    The annual report concluded that while the overall trend from 1991 to 2012 in the percentage of women holding ABA leadership positions is trending upward, the rate of increase has remained relatively static or slightly decreased in recent years. In addition, sections and divisions must make a concerted effort to help women achieve chair positions within their ABA entity.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, ABA, women, legal profession leadership

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Minneapolis, MN


    February 9, 2012

    Most Part-Time Attorneys Are Female

    According to a recent study [PDF] conducted by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), more males are entering part-time work; however, female workers continue to comprise the overwhelming majority of part-time attorneys. Indeed, the study found that overall, women represent 70 percent of those employed part-time. The study was based on analysis of information concerning part-time use in 1,269 law offices and firms, and for more than 125,000 attorneys.

    Although 98 percent of the law firms reviewed in 2011 allow part-time work, many individuals do not take advantage of the shorter, albeit still long, hours of part-time work. The study found that only 6.2 percent of all attorneys at big law firms work part-time. This percentage is a decrease from a high of 6.4 percent in 2010, but an increase from 2.4 percent in 1994 when NALP began collecting this data.

    According to NALP, 13.4 percent of female attorneys work part-time compared to 2.7 percent of male attorneys. While the numbers are not staggering, the study did find an increase in the number of male attorneys employed part-time at the partnership level. Specifically, out of all partners working part-time, 66 percent are female and 34 percent are male. For male partners, this number reflects an increase of 6 percent from 2006.

    The NALP study also found differences in the rate of part-time work based on location. For example, the study found that only 2.4 percent of attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama work part-time, and all are female. In contrast, in Washington D.C., 4.4 percent of the partners work part-time and 6.1 percent of associates work part-time.

    Overall, the part-time field remains mostly populated by women, but with more male partners going part-time than ever before.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, part-time, NALP, career

    —Jocelyn Neudauer, Law Student, San Diego, CA


    February 8, 2012

    Survey Reveals Disparities in the Outlooks of Male Vs. Female New Partners

    The American Lawyer recently revealed the results of its first-ever survey of new partners. The survey represents responses from 296 partners promoted at Am Law 200 firms between 2008 and 2011, the majority of whom are from firms with 500 or more attorneys. The survey provides insight into how views between new male partners and new female partners diverge on issues such as client development, partnership grooming, money, and the future.

    For example, new female partners reported a darker outlook on the partnership experience than did their male counterparts. Of the new female partners, 25 percent rated their partnership experience as being “more difficult than I expected,” compared to 15 percent of the men.

    A higher percentage of new female partners see the development of their own book of business as the ticket to security. According to the survey, more than 81 percent of new women partners reported stepping up their business-development efforts, compared to fewer than 75 percent of the new male partners. Despite their early focus on business development, however, only 9 percent of new women partners surveyed reported being “very satisfied” with their business-development responsibilities, compared to more than 30 percent of new male partners. Moreover, 11 percent of the new women partners reported that they were “not at all satisfied” with their business-development responsibilities compared to only 3 percent of the new men partners.

    Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, partners, business development, women, men

    Candace Duff, Greenberg Traurig, Miami, FL.


    December 16, 2011

    NAWL Finds That Fewer Female Lawyers Are Entering Big-Firm Practice

    The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) recently released the results of their Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, which found, for the first time since the Survey began in 2006, a noted decline in the number of women entering big-firm law practice. Of specific concern to NAWL is that the results may signal a downward trend for women entering the legal profession generally. The survey also examined the changing structure of law firms and its effect on women and determined that the changes—which include multi-tier partnerships (e.g., equity vs. non-equity, rather than just simply a partner/associate division), and the addition of contract, staff attorney, and of counsel positions—more adversely affected women then men. More specifically, the survey found that firms are more likely to employ staff and contract positions that are typically non-partner track positions with women lawyers who have considerable seniority. With regard to of counsel positions, the survey found that women comprise more than one-third of these positions yet only a minority of firms consider them eligible to become partners.

    The study further concluded that women are less likely than men to receive credit for business development and other forms of rainmaking, are underrepresented in law-firm leadership, and continue to earn less than their male counterparts.

    Notwithstanding these findings, NAWL was somewhat encouraged to learn that large law firms are aware of the issues with the retention and promotion of women and that 95 percent of firms responding to the survey offer women’s initiatives and other programs designed to assist women with career advancement.

    Keywords: NAWL, women, lawyers, big firm, non-partner roles

    Angela Turiano, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.


    December 15, 2011

    Dealing With Jerks

    Reminding oneself that what goes around comes around may be the best way of dealing with “jerks” in the legal profession, according to a recent article in the Fall 2011 issue of the ABA Journal. Dealing With Jerks:What Goes Around Comes Around, 37 Am. Bar Ass’n 19 (2011). The article defines the meaning of jerks as those “few attorneys for whom getting under their adversary’s skin seems more important than the result they achieve for their client.” While this personality type is bound to surface in high pressure trial work, the article suggests that jerk attorneys are “not as successful as those attorneys who keep their eye on the prize.” The article proposes that successful trial work comes from “single-minded focus on the end result” and offers some tips for dealing with jerk attorneys.

    One tip is to not “respond in kind” or “rise to the bait,” as Gregory R. Hanthorn, cochair for the Ethics and Professionalism Committee, and Anne Marie Seibel, cochair of The Woman Advocate Committee, suggest in the article. Often, bad behavior is done just to get a reaction or impress a client. The article suggests responding by keeping calm, conducting important discussions with difficult personalities one-on-one rather than in front of an audience, and maintaining restraint and professionalism in written correspondence, such as emails.

    Additionally, preparing yourself and your client regarding both the case and opposing counsel’s personality is the best way to handle depositions. Finally, the article concludes with the idea that bad behavior will eventually be found out. In the legal world where “every person an attorney encounters is either a potential client or a possible referral,” good character is remembered and rewarded with additional business.

    Keywords: adversary, success, bad behavior

    Amber Pershon, Phoenix School of Law, Phoenix, AZ


    December 15, 2011

    Looking for a Mentor? Just Ask

    A recent article in The Glass Hammer showcased the November event: "Professional Development: View from the Top," which was hosted by Step Up Women's Network. At the event, participants were given advice from successful senior women on how to advance their careers by connecting with mentors. According to the speakers, the best way to approach someone you would like to connect with or be mentored by is to simply ask. "Don't be afraid to approach a mentor or someone you want to connect with professionally and just ask," says Pattie Sellers, editor at large and cochair of the Most Powerful Women Summit, FORTUNE. "Walk up to that person and introduce yourself. It could change your life and it could change the older person's life."

    The speakers also emphasized that the best approach to getting noticed when asking someone to be your mentor is to be authentic and show your eagerness to learn. According to Sellers, "You need to be normal—don't put on airs." Carolyn Buck-Luce, a global pharmaceutical sector leader for Ernst & Young recalled a woman who approached her for a job and, while the woman had gotten mixed reviews, she was impressed with her authenticity: "She didn't defer to my position. She was incredibly authentic. She was very clear and she knew what she could do."

    The Step Up organization is designed to help professionals connect and network but also has a strong mentorship component. One of Step Up's important messages is "not getting caught up in preconceptions" about what young women are supposed to do or how they are supposed to behave, but to encourage young women to follow their passion and achieve their dreams. As part of its mission, the program connects professional women with underserved high-school girls. The girls attend after-school and weekend enrichment programs to help them build confidence and develop college and career skills.

    Keywords: women, career, pay, earnings

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Minneapolis, MN


    November 18, 2011

    Job Hopping May Be Detrimental to Women's Career Advancement

    A recent study performed by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding career opportunities for women, found that women who climb the career ladder at a single company tend to have more success and earn more money than women who change employers. Specifically, the study found that women who changed jobs two or more times after completing their MBA degree earned $53,472 less than women who stayed with their first employers. Conversely, according to the study, job hopping appears to benefit men’s career advancement and earnings. The study revealed that, on average, men who changed jobs two or more times after obtaining their MBA degree earned $13,743 more than those men who stayed with their first post-MBA employer. The study concluded that men are paid based on their potential whereas women tend to be paid based upon their proven performance.

    There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Some woman have been able to obtain higher pay and more responsibility by taking advantage of new opportunities offered by new employers; however, on the whole, the Catalyst study concluded that staying with the same company may provide women with the ability to build a strong track record and to develop mentors and sponsors who can help steer their careers.

    Keywords: women, career, pay, earnings

    Candace Duff, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Miami, FL


    November 17, 2011

    The Effect of Gender & Status On Negotiations

    A recent Forbes article by Victoria Pynchon discusses the effect of gender on power negotiations. "Women's Negotiation 'Problem' May Be Power, Not Gender," Forbes.com. The article notes that many women believe they must “negotiate nicely” and “be relentlessly pleasant,” or they may suffer a blowback.  However, the article then posits that this negotiation problem is caused by status rather than gender, which in turn is a historic remnant of gender discrimination.

    Pynchon discusses The Handbook of Gender Research by Joan Chrisler and Donald McCreary, which states, “If women are, or are perceived to be, in a lower status position, then they are unlikely to assert themselves over an individual with a perceived high status, regardless of that person’s gender.” The author then questions whether the problem is actually one of viewpoint. Pynchon calls for a decision about which gender’s negotiation strategy and tactics are most effective, create the most value, and remain the most durable. She asserts that these are the tactics that should be utilized by both men and women. 

    Keywords: women, negotiation, power

    Amber Pershon, Phoenix School of Law, Phoenix, AZ


    November 16, 2011

    Thirty Years Later, the Glass Ceiling Is Only Cracked

    A recent New York Times editorial opines that 30 years after Sandra Day O’Connor heard her first cases on the Supreme Court, the glass ceiling is at best “only cracked.” Currently, the legal profession continues to show resistance to putting women in leadership positions. Not only are there fewer women in general practicing law, despite making up half of new law school graduates for the past 20 years, but the numbers for women on the bench and in equity partner positions in law firms are dismal.

    Further, the editorial notes that women with children have the hardest time staying or being hired in the profession. According to a recent Cornell study, the likelihood of a woman with children being hired is 50 percent less than a woman with similar qualifications and no children. The data for women without children is not much brighter, however. Indeed, the editorial notes that according to a landmark report from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Professio,n women’s careers are often shaped by bias.  Women face presumptions of less devotion to their jobs, pay disparity, and continued sex discrimination in the profession. 

    Even though there are successful women in the field, that success often requires the ability to give some family responsibilities to a stay-at-home partner or other caretaker. This “traditional model” represents only one-sixth of the work force and is outmoded according to the author. Instead, the author posits that there are ways to retain women in the law. For example, flexible schedules are one option, but men must also choose these options to end their stigma.

     Also, transparent evaluation, assignment, and payment systems are steps toward retaining women in the profession. If the changes are not made, “. . . the profession will continue to lose talented lawyers. It will fail to be a profession that embodies gender equality—what many thought the O’Connor selection promised to bring.” "The Glass Ceiling", The New York Times, October 8, 2011.

    Keywords: women, glass ceiling, gender equality

    Susan Hallquist, University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN


    November 2, 2011

    Low-Confidence Behaviors Stunt Women's Careers

    According to a 2011 study by Europe's Institute of Leadership and Management, women are less confident than men in their careers. The study found that men were more confident across all age groups, with 70 percent of males having high or very high levels of self-confidence, compared to 50 percent of the women surveyed.

    In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt discuss four "low-confidence behaviors" cited by both male and female managers as frequently exhibited by women in the workplace.

    1. Being overly modest. Men are more willing to take public credit for their successes, while women believe their accomplishments should speak for themselves and do not seek the recognition they deserve.
    2. Failing to ask for promotions. Women fail to get promoted because they fail to apply for or request a promotion. The problem with this behavior is that "[n]ot asking means you've lost the chance to influence the outcome."
    3. Blending in. Some women prefer to blend in and go to great lengths to avoid attention. Blending in, however, "means you are missing opportunities—every single day—to stand out and sell your ideas."
    4. Remaining silent. Women frequently fail to speak up in the workplace, resulting in missed chances "to get in the game."

    According to the authors, women should make small adjustments in how they think and act to improve their confidence and progress in their careers.

    Keywords: confidence, career, growth, self-confidence

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Mineapolis, MN


    November 1, 2011

    The Effect of Makeup on Perceived Competency

    Appearance may not be everything, but the way a woman presents herself can affect how she is perceived in the office. A recent study sponsored by Proctor & Gamble and designed and executed by Harvard University Professor Nancy Etcoff, researchers from Boston University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that women who wore makeup were perceived to be more competent, likeable, and trustworthy than non-makeup-wearing counterparts.

    The study took a diverse group of 25 women between the ages of 25 and 50 and took pictures of them in four different looks: no makeup, a natural look, a professional look, and a glamorous look. The pictures were then shown to two separate groups. The first group was shown the pictures for 250 milliseconds so that a snap judgment could be made. The second group was shown the pictures for an unlimited amount of time. According to the study’s findings, women who wore makeup were perceived as more competent than the women without makeup, which even held true for those depicted in the glamorous makeup option. However, according to Professor Etcoff, if a woman always wears a glamorous look, “there may be a lowering of trust, so if you are in a situation where you need to be a trusted source, perhaps you should choose a different look.”  Read the full study.

    Keywords: women, beauty, makeup, perception, competency

    Gabrielle Jackson, Wake Forest University School of Law, 2013


    October 13, 2011

    Is There a Price for Being Nice?

    From their earliest toddler interactions, little girls and boys are cajoled to “be nice.” But now, a recent study shows that the paychecks of agreeable men are much less than their disagreeable male counterparts. The pay difference is negligible for agreeable women. The study “Do Nice Guys—and Gals—Really Finish Last?” was conducted by researchers Beth A. Livingston of Cornell University, Timothy A. Judge of University of Notre Dame, and Charlice Hurts of University of Western Ontario.

    The researchers found that the “disagreeableness premium” was $9,772 for men, but only about $1,828 for women. The higher premium for men was posited to be due in part to the fact that agreeable men “disconfirm (and disagreeable men confirm) conventional gender roles.” Disagreeableness in women, on the other hand, “is at odds with norms for feminine behavior.” Consequently, “men earn a substantial premium for being disagreeable while the same behavior has little effect on women’s income.”

    All of this leads one to wonder what it means to be “disagreeable.” The report explains that “people low in agreeableness are basically amicable” but “are just slightly more likely . . . to behave disagreeably in certain situations by, for instance, aggressively advocating for their position during conflicts.” The researchers note that “[g]iven the positive contributions made by agreeable people, demonstrated in prior research, it seems that the income penalty for agreeableness is out of proportion with its performance effects.” They conclude that their research raises “important questions about the standards according to which people are evaluated” and “serves as a caveat to popular sources of career advice that either exhort people to be nice—or not.”

    Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI


    September 14, 2011

    Women of Color Increasingly Reject Law Firms for In-House Positions

    According to a recent study entitled "The Perspectives of Women of Color Attorneys in Corporate Legal Departments" undertaken by the Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC), female minorities are increasingly leaving law firms for corporate counsel positions. The study, which surveyed more than 1,300 African American, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American female corporate attorneys, reported a staggering 76.5 percent of surveyed women who left their law firm careers for in-house positions. One of the leading reasons cited for this move was the lack of diverse female partners who were available to serve as mentors.  

    According to Veta T. Richardson, the executive director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, another primary reason that women of color likely prefer the corporate setting is because corporations have valued diversity since the 1980s, whereas law firms did not begin to seriously consider diversity issues until the 1990s. Richardson recommends that to retain more women of color, law firms should provide financial incentives to supervisors who make diversity a priority and should include diversity responsiveness as part of performance reviews. The CCWC study also reports that law firms could retain more women of color by providing them greater access to managing partners and executive teams, opportunities to interact with highly valued clients, and quality assignments to help them build expertise on subject matter and meet billable-hour requirements.

    Keywords: diversity, minorities, corporate

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Mineapolis, MN


    September 14, 2011

    The Unintended Consequences of Opting Out

    In a 2003 New York Times article entitled "The Opt Out Revolution," Lisa Belkin suggested that women were making an empowered choice to "opt out" of their careers. According to Belkin, the reason why women were not rising to leadership positions was perhaps because women simply did not want them.

    The backlash to Belkin's article was swift. Subsequent studies revealed that professional women were not opting out, but instead were being pushed out of their careers because their employers did not offer flexible work options. The research showed that women wanted to stay at work, but their employers made work-life balance extraordinarily difficult—if not impossible—forcing women to choose between work and family.

    According to a recent study by Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, the "opt-out" myth—or the idea that women choose to leave the workplace—makes it more difficult to recognize gender discrimination. According to the study, women who made a choice to leave their careers were blind to the societal and environmental barriers to their advancement in the workplace. The study concludes that while making a choice between career and family is empowering and personal, it ultimately reinforces the gender barriers faced by professional women.  

    Nicole M. Stephens, assistant professor of management and organizations at Kellogg and coauthor of the study, recommends reframing the discussion to reflect that women frequently do not freely choose to leave the workplace, but instead are pushed out by persistent workplace barriers such as limited workplace flexibility, unaffordable childcare, and negative stereotypes about working mothers.

    Keywords: work-life balance, working mothers

    Suzanne L. Jones, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Mineapolis, MN


    September 13, 2011

    Judge Believes Individuals, Not Courts, Should Dictate Work-Life Balance

    U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Bloomberg. Preska did not agree that the media company discriminated against pregnant employees or women who recently returned from maternity leave. She found the expert analysis showed no discrimination in pay or promotions. In addition, she noted that both men and women have complained about work-life balance at Bloomberg.

    In her opinion, Preska elaborated on work-life balance. Preska quoted Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, who once said, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” Preska found that his view “reflects the free-market employment system we embrace in the United States, particularly for competitive, highly paid posts.” Preska also wrote in her opinion that an individual in any family, not the courts, should dictate the level of commitment and, therefore, account for the tradeoffs involved. Read Preska's full ruling.

    Keywords: Bloomberg, work-life balance, discrimination

    Esther Hyun, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA


    September 8, 2011

    Web 2.0 May Play to Female Attorneys' Strengths

    According to the July 2011 Business of Law section of the ABA Journal, social media has proven to be a powerful tool for many female attorneys. This tool may be particularly useful to women because it provides an automatic presence online, offers more flexibility in their professional lives, and is a marketing tool that requires no significant investment.

    Moreover, use of social media requires skills that many women may excel in, such as communication and relationship building. Social media is a non-confrontational way to create relationships and move away from blatant self-promotion—which many women may still have more reservations about than men—by providing space for women to wholeheartedly promote other women. Social media and women’s work in the legal field are proving compatible and, regardless of gender, it provides ample opportunity for successful, effective communication.

    Women’s Work? Some Find Web 2.0 Plays to Female Attorneys’ Strengths,” ABA Journal (July 2011).

    Susan Hallquist, University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN


    August 26, 2011

    Growing Mentor Association Is a Valuable Resource for Attorney-Mothers

    Managing the demands of being an attorney in a big law firm and motherhood can be a daunting task. A 2010 survey by the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) finds that women in big law firms are still not on an equivalent economic level as their male counterparts. Big law firm culture often requires long and unpredictable hours, as well as large demands on an attorney’s time and focus. Many women find balancing these demands with those of their family challenging. In an effort to assist attorney mothers, an association called Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association (MAMA), which was highlighted in a recent article in The Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Making Their Case,” is growing throughout the country.  

    MAMA seeks to assist attorneys who are mothers by facilitating work-life balance, promoting advancement of mother attorneys, and creating a support group in which members can share their experiences. MAMA attempts to serve attorneys who are mothers through unique solutions. For example, recent topics at meetings for the Philadelphia chapter have included discussions about transitioning into law jobs other than in firms and finding strategies to make partner while maintaining sanity as a mother. The association currently includes chapters in six cities: Austin, San Diego, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and its founding chapter in Seattle. Organizations such as MAMA are one step in cultivating a solution for the demands placed on attorney mothers.

    Amber Pershon, Phoenix School of Law

    Keywords: work-life balance, working mothers, NAWL, MAMA


    August 17, 2011

    A Woman Is Top Earner in General Counsel Compensation Survey

    Salary and bonus payments totaling nearly $6.5 million have catapulted a woman into the spot of top-earning general counsel, according to Corporate Counsel’s survey of general counsel compensation. It is the first time a woman has held that position since the survey began in 1994, Corporate Counsel reports. Corporate Counsel—Report of 2011 Survey. Denise Keane, the chief legal officer for Altria Group, rose to the number one cash compensation ranking from 34th place in last year’s survey. A 34-year veteran of the Altria family of companies, Keane received a $5,724,700 non-equity incentive payment in 2010, in addition to a salary of approximately $731,817. Corporate Counsel—Top 100.

    According to Corporate Counsel, a 2010 survey conducted by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association shows that women hold the title of general counsel in 94 Fortune 500 companies, or roughly 19 percent. Fourteen women were among the 100 highest paid general counsel and seven were in the top 50, according to Corporate Counsel’s survey. In addition to Keane, they include Carol Petren (Cigna Corporation) in 11th place, Laureen Seeger (McKesson Corporation) in 14th place, E. Julia Lambeth (Reynolds American Inc.) in 26th place, Laura Schumacher (Abbott Laboratories) in 31st place, Kim Rucker (Avon Products, Inc.) in 37th place, and Stacy Fox (Sunoco, Inc.) in 49th place. Other top 100 women include Sandra Leung (Bristol-Myers Squibb Company), Suzanne Bettman (R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company), Candace Cummings (V.F. Corporation), Leila Vespoli (First Energy Corp.), Ellen Fitzsimmons (CSX Corporation), Theresa Lee (Eastman Chemical Company), and Ellen Kaden (Campbell Soup Company).

    The 14 women in the top 100 is up from 13 women last year, 10 women in 2005, and 6 women in 2000, Corporate Counsel reports. Corporate Counsel—Movin On Up. Women in the survey received average total cash compensation of about $1.96 million, compared to a $1.84 million average for the survey subjects overall. Bruce Sewell, general counsel for Apple, was the top stock earner, receiving awards worth $28.4 million. According to Corporate Counsel, general counsel compensation reflects individual performance and the overall success of the company.

    Joanne Geha Swanson, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI

    Keywords: women, corporate, general counsel


    July 8, 2011

    Two Women District Judges Unanimously Appointed To The District of New Jersey

    Recently, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the nominations of Magistrate Judge Esther Salas and Magistrate Judge Claire Cecchi as District Judges for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Both Judge Salas and Judge Cecchi have served as United States Magistrate Judges for the District of New Jersey since 2006.

    Judge Salas, 42, earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from Rutgers University and then worked for nearly 10 years as a federal public defender. While a magistrate judge, she drafted often-cited opinions regarding discovery disputes. She is known for her commonsense approach to litigation and her tough stance on ethics. Judge Salas is also a married mother of one child.

    Judge Cecchi, 46, earned her law degree from Fordham University. Judge Cecchi practiced law in New York and then New Jersey for 17 years. While a magistrate judge, she drafted fair and thorough opinions. She is known for her preparation and detailed analysis. Judge Cecchi is also a married mother of one child.

    The new district judges are an asset to the District of New Jersey which is one of the busiest district courts in the nation.

    Sheila Rafferty Wiggins, Duane Morris LLP


    June 13, 2011

    Promotion of Women to Partnership Stalled in 2011

    A report by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) found that women lawyers continue to lag behind their male peers in becoming law firm partners. In fact, new male partners outnumbered new female partners by more than two to one in 2011, according to PAR.  Worse, the number of promotions of women has continued to decrease year after year. In 2011, for example, the promotion rate of women at 123 large U.S. law firms surveyed fell 2 percentage points this year, from 34 percent to 32 percent. In fact, a number of law firms did not promote a single woman to partnership in 2011, despite promoting numerous partners. The report did include some good news, however. Of the 123 firms surveyed, 20 had new partner classes that were at least half women—an increase over prior years.  A link to PAR’s press release can be found here.

    Patricia O'Prey, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    June 13, 2011

    Growing Trend of Women of Color Leaving Firms to Work as Corporate Counsel

    A recent study by Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) discovered a growing trend of women of color leaving law firms to work as corporate counsel. The study, titled “The Perspectives of Women of Color Attorneys in Corporate Legal Departments,” surveyed more than 800 African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American female corporate attorneys. About 76 percent of the women who participated in the study started their careers in law firms before joining in-house corporate legal departments. The women cited the following reasons for leaving law firms: feeling that their work was not valued, a lack of good mentors, a desire for more challenging work, and few opportunities for growth. The study found that women responding to the survey had doubts whether their prospects and opportunities at law firms would improve, in part because so few women of color were partners who could serve as mentors. A link to an article by CCWC’s founder and CEO, Laurie N. Robinson, discussing the survey results can be found here.

    Patricia C. O'Prey, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    June 9, 2011

    The Name Change Dilemma

    A recent posting in the Wall Street Journal’s blog, The Juggle, explores women’s decisions with regard to taking their husband’s names after marriage. The May 8, 2011 post, “The Name Change Dilemma,” by Sue Shellenbarger, notes that approximately 18 percent of married women kept their maiden name in the 2000s, a reduction from a peak of approximately 23 percent in the 1990s. A 2009 study published in Social Behavior and Personality found a correlation between occupations and education with the likelihood of a woman keeping her maiden name. Specifically, as noted in the post, “[w]ell-educated women in high-earning occupations are significantly more likely to keep their maiden names.” Another study published in 2010 found that age also affects the likelihood that a woman will keep her maiden name. In fact, the study found that women who married between the ages of 35 to 39 were 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who married between the ages of 20 and 24.

    The post also examines a recent Dutch study published in Basic and Applied Psychology, which examines how a woman’s decision to keep her maiden name may affect how others perceive her abilities. According to the study’s findings, women introduced with the same last name as their husbands were perceived as more caring, dependent, and emotional, whereas those introduced with a different last name were viewed as smarter and more ambitious.

    Read the full post here. Refer to the 2009, 2010 and Dutch studies referenced above here.

    Sara Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, CA

    Keywords: women, name change, maiden name


    June 9, 2011

    Impressive Number of Women Recently Selected as Law School Deans

    In the last few months, women were chosen for approximately 40% of the available law dean positions, according to The National Law Journal.  This figure is remarkable considering that just two years ago an ABA report reflected that 62% of assistant dean positions were held by women compared to only 21% of law dean positions.  The most recent example of this trend is the selection of Darby Dickerson to lead Texas Tech University School of Law.  Dean Dickerson is the current dean at Stetson University School of Law, and her departure creates an opportunity for a woman to lead that law school.  Other women recently appointed as law deans include:

    • Margaret Raymond (University of Wisconsin Law School)
    • Stacy Leeds (University of Arkansas School of Law)
    • Annette Clark (Saint Louis University School of Law)
    • Jane Korn (Gonzaga University School of Law)
    • Maria Pabon Lopez (Loyola University New Orleans School of Law)
    • Deanell Tacha (Pepperdine University School of Law)
    • Wendy Perdue (University of Richmond School of Law)

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH and St. Petersburg, FL


    May 27, 2011

    Adding Women to a Team Increases Its Intelligence

    A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that a group’s collective intelligence increases when the group includes women. The study gave subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. The study found that teams with more women tended to fall above the average while teams with more men tended to fall below it. The study also found that there is little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. Thus, although the teams that had members with higher IQs did not earn much higher scores, those that had more women did. The authors of the study attributed the findings to the importance of having individuals with high social sensitivity in a group; many studies have shown that women tend to score higher on tests of social sensitivity than men. The study also concluded that facts such as group satisfaction, group cohesion, and group motivation were not correlated with collective intelligence.

    A copy of an interview with the authors of the study can be found here.

    Patricia C. O'Prey, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    May 9, 2011

    Alliance for Board Diversity Releases Disappointing Census Results

    The impression that women and minorities continue to be substantially underrepresented on corporate boards was confirmed with the release of the 2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census (ABD). The ABD comprises five organizations—Catalyst, the Executive Leadership Council, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, Leadership for Asian Pacifics, Inc., and the Prout Group, Inc.

    Among Fortune 100 companies, the data compiled not only reflects stagnation in some areas, but also reveals decreases in the representation of certain minorities on corporate boards. For example, women gained 16 board seats between 2004 and 2010; however, their increase was only 1.1 percentage points. Further, during the same period, African American men lost 42 board seats while white men gained 32 seats. Overall, the number of boards with 30 percent or less representation of woman and minorities has increased from 59 to 65 among Fortune 100 companies in the past six years.

    Unfortunately, the situation is worse when the group is expanded to include boards of Fortune 500 companies. 2010 was the first time Fortune 500 companies were included in the census and the ABD concluded that “Fortune 500 boards are less diverse than Fortune 100 boards.” For example, approximately one-half of Fortune 500 company boards have 20 percent or less representation of women and minorities. In contrast, the census also highlighted companies with 40 percent or more seats held by women and minorities, including top-ranking Avon Products (63.6 percent), Target and PepsiCo (58.3 percent), Aetna (53.8 percent), and Staples (50 percent).

    In the letter from the ABD accompanying the census, the ABD predicts that “[u]nless this troubling trend is reversed and U.S. companies begin to reflect their shareholders, markets, and employees, they will fail to reach maximum potential as leaders in the global economy.”

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH, and St. Petersburg, FL.

    Keywords: diversity, minorities, board, corporate


    May 9, 2011

    New Study Explores Barriers for Corporate Counsel Women of Color

    Corporate Counsel Women of Color recently released an interesting study, which found that gender is viewed by in-house attorneys who are women of color as being more of a barrier to advancement than race and/or ethnicity. The findings were based on online survey responses from more than 850 female attorneys of color in legal departments at Fortune 1000 companies, as well as 500 live participants and 40 focus group participants. According to the study, 52 percent of the respondents perceived gender as an obstacle, while only 35 percent of respondents perceived race as an obstacle. Corporate Counsel Women of Color founder and CEO, Laurie Robinson, noted that despite perceived obstacles, survey respondents were not deterred from setting high goals for themselves. Ms. Robinson further described the respondent group as having “a very strong sense of self” and feeling “that they had the power to control their destiny.” The study report is available for purchase through Corporate Counsel Women of Color.

    Sara Dionne, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, CA

    Keywords: corporate counsel, gender, race


    May 3, 2011

    Yale Law Women Survey Names Top 100 Family-Friendly Law Firms

    Yale Law Women recently released a survey of the Vault Top 100 Law Firms from the perspective of their work-life balance policies. WilmerHale; Mayer Brown LLP; Arnold & Porter LLP; Covington & Burling LLP; Dorsey & Whitney LLP; Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo LLP; Perkin Coie LLP; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; and Sidley Austin LLP were named among the top 10 family-friend firms for 2011.

    In releasing the survey results, Yale Law Women (YLW) stated that “[a]s the legal field heads toward recovery after the recent financial crisis, YLW believes that the focus on family-friendly firm policies and policies designed for the retention of women remains more important and pressing than ever.” In addition to the top 10 firms, Yale Law Women released statistics on work-life balance policies from the survey firms. Thirty-six percent of respondents offered so-called off-ramp/on-ramp programs that allow lawyers to leave the firm and return, compared to just 24 percent of the firms surveyed in 2010. Many firms offer childcare facilities, care services for the elderly, lactation rooms, $5,000 reimbursement for the costs associated with adopting a child, and formal or informal support networks for attorneys trying to balance family responsibilities with their careers. One hundred percent of the responding firms offered part-time options, and 98 percent offered flex-time possibilities. Despite these powerful statistics, YLW remains concerned about the lack of women leaders in firms, with women making up only 18 percent of firm management committees and 27 percent of newly promoted partners in 2010. In addition, YLW discussed the possible negative consequences of adopting a part-time schedule, pointing out that 81 percent of attorney who worked part-time were women and that just 5 percent of the partners promoted in 2010 had ever worked part-time.

    Patricia O’Prey, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    April 27, 2011

    Is There A Wage Gap?

    The Wall Street Journal recently ran an opinion-editorial piece entitled “There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap.” The piece, authored by Carrie Lukas, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, appeared on April 12. April 12 has been deemed “Equal Pay Day” by the National Committee for Pay Equity based on the idea that women must work until April 12 before they earn what men earned in the prior year. In the article, Lukas shares a number of interesting statistics. For example, she cites Department of Labor statistics that indicate full-time working men work on average three-quarters of an hour more per day than working women. She also highlights a 2010 study by Reach Advisors of single, childless, urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 and found that women in that group earned an average of 8 percent more than men. Relying on this study, Lukas opines that “[r]ecent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances.”

    While the statistics discussed in the article are thought-provoking, they leave many questions unaddressed by the article’s conclusions. For example, while one might expect men’s greater average work hours to result in higher average pay, it is curious why this difference in work hours exists. Is it because of different choices that men and women make? Or is it the result of something else, e.g., the availability of opportunities, mentoring, and new challenges? Likewise, while the Reach Advisors study sounds promising, it also focuses on a narrow segment of the working population, focusing on an age range when workers have recently finished their education and are new to the job market.

    In sum, while you may not be convinced by Lukas’s conclusions, her discussion of the wage gap reminds us that these are complicated and difficult issues.

    Sara Dionne, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, CA

    Keywords: women, legal profession, law firm, equity, 16 percent


    April 18, 2011

    "The Mommy Track": More Women are Choosing Both Career and Family

    Does the “mommy track” exist, and are women choosing it? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that the answer to both questions is yes. Over 20 years after Felice Schwartz’s 1989 Harvard Business Review article, entitled “Management Women and the New Facts of Life,” ignited the “mommy wars,” it appears that women can have it all.

    As Schwartz explained in her seminal article, women are not all cut from the same mold. Some women will make “the same trade-offs traditionally made by the men who seek leadership positions.” Most women, however, want families and, once children enter their lives, these talented and creative women “are willing to trade some career growth and compensation for freedom from the constant pressure to work long hours and weekends.”

    Schwartz advocated for flexibility in the workplace and encouraged employers to recognize that these women are a “precious resource.” To retain these productive women, Schwartz encouraged employers to offer accommodations, including part-time arrangements, which in most cases meant slower promotions and lower pay. And contrary to the prevailing belief at the time, Schwartz opined that “most career-and-family women are entirely willing to make that trade-off.”

    Schwartz’s critics argued that this path would relegate women to “dead-end jobs.” As Schwartz correctly predicted, however, women are able to achieve the once-elusive combination of career and children in greater numbers than ever before. This is due in part to new work patterns and flexibility as well as a shift in women’s attitude. Younger women, in particular, are choosing paths that allow for both career and family without having to make an all-or-nothing choice. Rather than leaving the labor force, highly educated women today are taking less time off and are instead choosing to work part-time. One survey found that 21–27 percent of women who graduated in the 1980s had both a career and family by the time they turned 40, compared with 13–17 percent of women who graduated between 1966 and 1979.

    For example, a study of University of Chicago MBAs found that, 10 years after graduation, only half of women with children worked full-time. Many established their own consulting practices that allow for flexible, project-based work. These “MBA mothers seem to actively choose jobs that are family friendly and avoid jobs with long hours and greater career-advancement possibilities.” Having it all may have a price, but it is a price many women are willing to pay, just as Schwartz suggested.

    Grace Wen, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    April 13, 2011

    Women Lawyers Have Lower Billing Rates than Male Lawyers

    The 2011 Billing Rates & Practices Survey published by ALM Legal Intelligence finds that across the board the average billing rates for women partners and associates are consistently lower than those of their male counterparts. For example, on a national level, the average billing rate for male attorneys is $312 per hour while female attorneys bill an average of $259 per hour. That disparity represents more than a 20 percent gap in billing rates, according to the ALM survey. The survey found that females have consistently lower average billing rates than males across all firm sizes and titles. The practice areas with the highest average hourly billing rates for females were the intellectual property non-litigation ($316), trusts/estates/probate non-litigation ($287), and commercial/contract litigation ($286) practice areas. Solo practitioners were excluded from the survey.

    Copies of the report can be purchased here.

    Patricia O’Prey, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    April 11, 2011

    President Carter Promotes Legal and Human Rights for Women

    Recently, former President Jimmy Carter spoke of his belief that communities around the world should focus on the continued abuse of women and children as a human rights violation. The conference, entitled "Religion, Believe, and Women’s Rights," was sponsored and hosted by the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. During his opening address, President Carter urged governments and religious organizations to come together to note the deprivation of rights to women and girls around the world and to make the correction of those issues a priority. He noted that many prominent religious movements in the world had contributed to unfair legal and social treatment of women based upon certain of their religious teachings.

    Panelists during the conference included the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, members of nations from around the world, journalists, and religious scholars. One of the goals of the conference was to discuss how religious and local political leaders can coordinate their efforts and teachings to improve the role of women and limit the influence of discrimination, violence, and oppression on the daily lives of women and girls. Leading up to the conference, scholars and policy makers participated in sessions to discuss the role of women as leaders in politics and religion, including discussions about how religious movements can advocate women’s rights. The conference also addressed how the spreading use of technology worldwide could assist advocates and women to advance the conference’s goals. President Carter specifically noted the improvement of women’s legal rights as one of the most critical human rights issues facing world leaders today.

    Anne Marie Seibel, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL

    Keywords: women's rights, President Carter, Jimmy Carter, women's abuse


    March 29, 2011

    Not So Sweet Sixteen

    A recent article by Patricia Gillette, an employment partner at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, explores the progress of women as leaders in the legal profession. “Not So Sweet Sixteen,” which appeared in Law 360 on March 10, 2011, notes the significance of the number 16 for women today: Approximately 16 percent of female lawyers are law firm partners, 16 percent of general counsels are women, 16 percent of members of Congress are women, and 16 percent of CEOs are women. Contrasting these figures with the hope and possibility associated with the number 16 in the 1950s and early 1960s, Gillette opines that the 16s of today “demonstrate the bitter truth . . . [that women] are often still treated as less than equals in the workplace.”

    Examining the reasons for today’s figures, Gillette opines that the answer is complicated. For some women the answer may lie in their own choices. But, it is clear that gender stereotyping and hidden biases also play a role. Asking what can be done, Gillette declares that it “is time to move past the 16s” and calls for a “conscious commitment to actively groom and recruit women for leadership positions,” and for firms to create a level playing field that includes transparency in identifying and grooming firm leaders, accountability for the development and transitioning of large client relationships, and training to assist partners in recognizing their own biases. Gillette calls upon women to ask for and prepare themselves for positions of leadership and economic power.

    Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, California

    Keywords: women, legal profession, law firm, equity, 16 percent


    March 15, 2011

    Study Links Gender Wage Gap and Birth of Daughters to CEOs

    A recent study entitled "Like Daughter, Like Father: How Women's Wages Change When CEOs Have Daughters" and conducted by professors at Columbia University, Aalborg University in Denmark, and the University of Maryland, has found a relationship between the gender wage gap and a company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) having a daughter. The study examined statistics maintained by the Danish government about Danish companies over a 12-year period. Looking at the time period before and after the birth of a daughter, the researchers found that within a short period after the birth of a daughter to a CEO, the wage gap between male and female employees at that CEO's company was reduced. No similar reduction was found upon the birth of a son. Interestingly, the researchers noted that the effect of the birth of a daughter was related to the birth order of the child. The most significant effect was observed when the daughter was the firstborn child, reducing the wage gap by nearly 3 percent. When the CEO had a daughter who was not his firstborn child, the wage gap reduction was less dramatic, narrowing by only 0.8 percent. Stronger results were observed at companies with less than 50 employees and with employees with more education.

    Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, California

    Keywords: gender, pay, wage gap, CEOs, daughter, birth


    March 7, 2011

    New York Judges Ask Where the Women Litigators Are

    At a New York City Bar Association event on Tuesday, March 1, 2011, a panel made up of two New York state judges, two corporate counsel, and a law firm partner debated some of the reasons for the lack of women in commercial cases pending in New York state and federal courts. Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, appellate division, is quoted as saying "Believe me, we notice it," referring to the lack of women at counsel's table. In addition, Justice Rosalyn H. Richter is quoted as having said that while judges typically see a diverse group of attorneys appearing for family law, criminal law, and personal injury cases, the room tends to clear out of women when it comes time to hearing commercial cases.

    Justice Richter's chambers compiled information from the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division that backed up the Judges' perceptions. Between September and January, female attorneys led or argued 19.23 percent of the 802 published civil cases in the division and only 13.35 percent of the commercial cases. Overall, 207 attorneys appeared in the 98 published commercial cases, and only 14, or 7.3 percent, were women, according to the data. This figure pales in comparison to the national figures, which indicate that in 2009, 31 percent of attorneys were women. The in-house counsel participating in the panel, including Michele Coleman Mayes, general counsel of Allstate Insurance Co., and Sandra Leung, general counsel at Bristol Meyers Squibb Co., emphasized that outside counsel must understand that staffing matters appropriately means using minority and women attorneys, even if they are on reduced hours.

    Patricia O'Prey, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, New York, NY


    March 7, 2011

    Study Examines the Effect of Gender in Securities Employment Arbitration Cases

    A paper entitled "The Effect of Gender on Awards in Employment Arbitration Cases: The Experience in the Securities Industry" was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Labor and Employment Relations Association. The paper discusses a study in which the authors of the paper examined nearly 3,200 employment arbitrations in the securities industry. The authors reviewed a number of variables in the arbitrations—including the gender of participants—and analyzed whether those variables affected the likelihood of success in arbitration. In conducting their analysis, the authors used four different definitions of a "win" in an arbitration (obtaining any positive award, obtaining an award that was at least 25 percent of the amount claimed, obtaining an award that was at least 50 percent of the amount claimed, and obtaining an award that was at least 75 percent of the amount claimed). Categorizing the gender of arbitration participants based on their first name, the authors considered the gender of the claimants, the claimants' and respondents' attorneys, and the arbitrator under the authors' various definitions of a "win."

    According to the study's findings, when a win was defined as obtaining any recovery, male claimants had a 34.4 percent greater likelihood of a win than female claimants. When a win was defined as obtaining an award that was at least 25 or 50 percent of the amount claimed, the authors found that the gender of the claimant had a similar effect. The authors further found that, with regard to both of these categories of wins, however, the gender of the claimant's attorney had a more significant effect on the likelihood of a win than the claimant's gender. Finally, when a win was defined as obtaining an award that was at least 75 percent of the amount claimed, the gender of the claimant was observed to have no significant effect on arbitration awards, but the gender of the claimant's attorney did have a significant effect on the likelihood of a win. In fact, the authors observed that claimants (regardless of gender) represented by male attorneys were over twice as likely to obtain an award of at least 75 percent of what was claimed than those represented by female attorneys. In all of the categories, neither the gender of the respondents' attorney nor the arbitrator had any statistically significant effect on the likelihood of wins.

    The complete study is available here.


    February 17, 2011

    More Law Firms Offering Part-Time Alternatives

    A study released by the National Association for Legal Professionals reveals that while more law firms are offering part-time schedules, particularly at the partner level, the number of lawyers taking advantage of the programs is small, especially compared to the general workforce. Furthermore, women lawyers continue to constitute the majority of the lawyers working part-time.

    For example, in 1994, 86 percent of law offices participating in the study allowed part-time schedules. By 2010, the number had increased to 98 percent. However, the growth in the percentage of lawyers working part-time has not risen as fast, increasing from 2.4 percent in 1994 to only 6.4 percent in 2010. Moreover, the rate of lawyers working part-time is far less than the general workforce. The study cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data that 14 percent of the general workforce worked part-time in 2009 and a slightly smaller percentage, 13.5 percent, worked part-time in professional specialties. Even more striking is the comparison of women to men that comprises the part-time lawyer category: 70 percent to 30 percent.

    The study is replete with additional dissections of the data collected. On the partnership track and considering reducing your hours? Be aware that only 3.6 percent of partners work part-time compared to 5.3 percent of associates. Interestingly, among the part-time partners, the percentage of woman has decreased from 72 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2010. Working part-time may also be related to where you live. For partners desiring to work part-time, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento are your choice destinations. Part-time women associates are most common in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and San Diego.

    A complete summary of the study is available here.

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., St. Petersburg, FL and Portsmouth, NH


    January 18, 2011

    Recent Study Explores Perceptions of Male and Female Attorneys in Negotiations

    Being perceived as both competent and likeable is imperative for success. Yet, female professionals often face a double bind whereby the perception of one characteristic comes at the cost of another. A recent paper published in the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, “Likeability v. Competence: The Impossible Choice Faced by Female Politicians, Attenuated By Lawyers,” however, discusses a study finding that this double bind may not be faced by negotiating attorneys.

    The study asked attorneys to describe and evaluate the attorney with whom they had most recently negotiated. The study found that women were perceived to be no more or less effective than male attorneys regardless of their negotiation style. Examining the descriptions used for the subject attorneys, the study concluded that there were few differences in the descriptions used for men and women. Moreover, to the extent there were differences, many ran contrary to gender stereotypes (e.g.,female negotiators were more often described as assertive and firm, whereas male negotiators were more often perceived as creative).

    In addition to discussing the study’s findings, the paper also posits several reasons that may explain the lack of gender differences found in the negotiation study and offers several suggestions for how female attorneys can deal with gender stereotypes.

    Sara E. Dionne, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, California

    Keywords: negotiations, gender stereotypes


    December 13, 2010

    New Hampshire Executive Council Approves First Woman Chief Justice

    The New Hampshire Executive Council unanimously approved Justice Linda Dalianis to serve as the first woman Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court on December 8, 2010. Justice Dalianis will take over for now retired Chief Justice John T. Broderick, who will join the University of New Hampshire School of Law as its new president and dean on January 28, 2011.

    However, this is not the first “first” for Justice Dalianis, a graduate of Northeastern University and Suffolk University School of Law. She was the first woman at her firm in Nashua, New Hampshire, the first woman Superior Court Justice, the first woman Superior Court Chief Justice and, finally, in 2000, became the first woman to join the New Hampshire Supreme Court. 

    Justice Dalianis will also take over the Chief Justice’s second responsibility as the administrative head of the entire court system—a daunting task in the current economic times. In past several years, the New Hampshire Judicial Branch has suffered steep budget cuts, resulting in unpaid furlough days for staff and judges, suspension of jury trials, court closings, unfilled staffing and judicial positions, and reduced clerk’s hours, among other cost-saving measures.

    It is expected that Justice Dalianis will be sworn in during the week of December 13, 2010.

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., St. Petersburg, FL and Portsmouth, NH

    Keywords: female judiciary, first woman, chief justice, Justice Linda Dalianis


    December 7, 2010

    The Glass Ceiling Remains Intact

    Last month, the National Association of Women Lawyers and The NAWL Foundation (together, NAWL) released their Report of the Fifth Annual National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms. The survey’s findings, though not surprising, are disheartening. In this era of diversity programs and women’s initiatives, women in the legal field are years from reaching parity with their male counterparts. Consider the following statistics:

    • The average big law firm executive committee has one, maybe two, female members.
    • Women lawyers account for a mere 15 percent of equity partners, “those lawyers who hold an ownership interest in their firms and occupy the most prestigious, powerful and best-paid positions.”
    • Nearly half of the firms surveyed (top 200 firms) reported no women among the top 10 rainmakers.
    • Female equity partners still earn less than their male counterparts, earning only 85 percent of the compensation earned by their male counterparts.
    • Two-tier and “mixed-tier” partnerships adversely impact women, leaving more women in the non-equity, non-owner ranks.

    Launched in 2006, the NAWL survey sought “to address the gap in objective statistics regarding the advancement of women lawyers to the highest levels of private practice.” The survey gathers and analyzes objective data from the nation’s top 200 law firms, providing a comparison of the careers and compensation of male and female lawyers at all levels of private practice, including analysis of “the factors that influence career progression.” Some of the key influences noted in the article are:

    • Increased use of staff and contract counsel, positions that are disproportionately occupied by women, may foreshadow a “pink ghetto.”
    • While some enlightened corporate clients may be keenly motivated to work with firms that support their female partners and may even request that a woman be named the originating or billing partner for an assignment, the firm’s actual compensation structure is rarely transparent to clients. The client may assume and intend that the female partner will benefit financially as the result of being so designated, but the client is unlikely to know whether the female partner is an equity partner versus a fixed-income or non-equity partner. In many instances, compensation-sensitive decisions about who will receive origination credit are controlled by the firm’s male-dominated leadership.
    • “[T]he small number of women at the highest levels of firm leadership has broader implications for the advancement of women lawyers.” Because women are not involved in decision-making at high levels, they are unable to influence policies and procedures on career issues that are important to female lawyers. The absence at the executive level of the female perspective on firm direction, elevation of lawyers to equity partner and to leadership roles, and compensation issues has an adverse effect on the women lawyers working their way up through the ranks.
    • The lack of women rainmakers is attributed to a number of factors: (a) “women are often excluded from rainmaking opportunities” and the obvious benefits associated with such opportunities; (b) “women frequently do not receive credit from their contributions to firms as institutions and participation as team players for business development;” and (c) “women often bear the brunt of disputes over fee credit[.]”

    Since the inaugural survey in 2006, the key statistics and the factors that drive them seem to be evolving at the speed of, well, mud. Initially, it was thought that female lawyers would begin advancing to the highest levels of management once more women were graduating from law school. It was believed that the low number of women in the equity partner and executive committee ranks were driven by demographics; i.e., there were not enough women graduating from law school. Since 2000, however, women have comprised at least 50 percent of law school classes, yet the numbers remain unchanged.

    The persistent absence of women in positions of leadership—from corporate boardrooms to law firm executive committees—suggests that the pace of progress remains painstakingly slow. The tiny glimmer of light seems to be that the conversation continues. Kudos to the NAWL and the survey’s authors for their hard work and candid analysis of these challenging issues.

    Amy Elizabeth Stewart, Amy Stewart PC, Dallas, TX

    Keywords: retention, NAWL, glass ceiling


    December 1, 2010

    North Carolina May Be First With Majority Female Appellate Bench

    While it may not have been the year of the woman anywhere else, it was decidedly so in North Carolina's judicial elections. With the election of Barbara Jackson to the state's Supreme Court, North Carolina will become just the fourth state to have a Supreme Court with a majority of female justices, joining Tennessee, Michigan, and Wisconsin. North Carolina's Supreme Court is also led by Chief Justice Sarah Parker, the third woman to hold that position in North Carolina's history.

    Jackson's rise to the Supreme Court leaves an open seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court which, before her departure, also boasted a majority of female justices. Jackson's replacement will be appointed by Governor Beverly Purdue. If a woman is appointed, North Carolina will be distinguished as the first state to have both its intermediate and highest appellate courts with a majority of seats held by female justices.

    Much attention has been given to the presence of three women on the United States Supreme Court and whether such gender diversity will be apparent in the Court's decisions. Some poll watchers attributed the gains in North Carolina to the opposite, suggesting that the increase in women's representation on the bench comes from the public's sense that female justices decide cases pretty much the way men do. Jackson pointed to North Carolina's tradition of electing its appellate bench as a factor in the increasing presence of women on the bench, claiming that popular election for judges encourage more diversity.

    "We've done well," said Court of Appeals Judge Linda McGee.

    Melissa English, The Van Winkle Law Firm, Asheville, NC

    Keywords: North Carolina, female judges, judiciary


    November 18, 2010

    Podcast Explores the Effects of Reduced-Hours Workloads

    Navigating the difficult balance between career and personal life is a challenge faced generally by legal professionals. A recent ABA podcast entitled "Do Reduced-Hour Workloads Derail Partnership-Track Careers?" offers some interesting perspectives on different attempts to achieve that balance. For example, the panel includes Stephanie Kimbro, a North Carolina practitioner who, while pregnant with her first child, left her law firm to practice as a solo practitioner. Kimbro’s experience is unique in that she teamed with her computer programmer husband to offer her clients a virtual law office, allowing her to expand her client base beyond her immediate geographic location. The panel also includes Will Meyerhofer, a New York psychotherapist who works with attorneys struggling in the profession; Professor Jacquelyn Slotkin of Case Western School or Law; and Professor Joan C. Williams of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

    Work-life balance is often characterized as a women’s issue or, more specifically, a mother’s issue. One important reminder discussed in the podcast is that the issue is not one confined only to mothers of young children. More and more legal professionals are exploring how to develop a practice that fits with their desired lifestyle. For example, Kimbro reports receiving contacts from a variety of practitioners, ranging from mothers to baby boomers with aging parents, seeking her advice on putting together their own virtual law firms.

    Another key issue raised in the podcast is how wealth and status affect a legal professional’s ability to achieve a satisfying work-life balance. Meyerhofer discusses how many attorneys he sees in his practice live under the weight of enormous law school loans. According to Meyerhofer, this debt significantly limits the options available to many of his clients who find themselves dissatisfied with their legal practice but may be prevented from making a change due to the severe financial pressures they face.

    At its core, work-life balance is about giving professionals options in their career. The podcast offers the listener different perspectives on options available to practitioners, as well as potential roadblocks to those options.

    Sara Dionne, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Sacramento, CA

    Keywords: Reduced-hour workloads, partnership track, virtual law office, work-life balance


    November 11, 2010

    Women Lawyers of Utah Release Study on Practicing in the State

    The Women Lawyers of Utah recently released the results of a study that set out to answer two questions:

    1. Do Utah law firms face greater challenges retaining and promoting female attorneys than male attorneys?
    2. If so, what concrete, unbiased actions can law firms and Utah attorneys take to meet these challenges?


    The survey was given to attorneys admitted to the Utah Bar between 1985 and 2005. The responses paint an unfavorable picture of practicing in the state. Attorneys reported that a “startling amount of sexual harassment and sex discrimination occurs in Utah law firms.” Also, gender bias and a sense of unequal treatment were reported. The Executive Summary noted that law firms should care about these trends because of the bottom line and, more importantly, clients may desire diversity among their attorneys.

    The Executive Summary also offered several best practices to address these problems, such as sexual harassment training, management addressing gender bias, encouraging partners to go to lunch with female attorneys, and providing incentives for mentoring. Although the study focused specifically on Utah, the issues raised by the participants are certainly not unique to Utah. Firms developing programs and guidelines to improve retention and promotion of women attorneys may find the Executive Summary an informative resource.

    Sabrina C. Beavens, Iurillo & Associates, P.A., Portsmouth, NH


    October 28, 2010

    A Challenge to Notions That Women Can't Achieve at the Highest Levels and Maintain a Family

    A recent book, The Last Male Bastion, by University of Pittsburgh law professor Douglas Branson provides a timely rebuttal to articles that have reported that many high-achieving women do not have any children. The Last Male Bastion notes that of the 12 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, 11 are mothers. Of course, the success of these women doesn't undercut the advantages that male parents experience in advancing their careers as compared to their female peers. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the gender gap released on September 28 found that men with children are more likely to rise into management than women with children in most major industries. The study concludes that the wage gap between working mothers and working fathers has not improved since 2000 when it was determined that working women were paid 79 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts were paid. For more information, see a copy of the U.S. GAO's report as well as an interesting article discussing these issues and involving interviews with female CEOs.

    Patricia C. O'Prey, New York, NY


    October 20, 2010

    A "First" Term for the United States Supreme Court


    Despite hundreds of previous terms, the United States Supreme Court’s October 2010 term is a first. It is the first in which there are more than two female justices. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan now make up one-third of the bench.

    Sandra Day O’Connor joined the bench in 1981 as the first female justice. Several years passed before Ginsberg became a Supreme Court Justice in 1993. O’Connor retired in 2006, leaving Ginsberg as the only female once again. Just four years later, however, three female justices are decision-makers in America’s highest court. In 2009, Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court, and Kagan quickly followed this year.

    There is much discussion and debate about the effects these three women will have in the aggregate. Yet, any definitive conclusions may be tempered this year. Kagan already recused herself from numerous cases due to her prior position as U.S. Solicitor General. For several cases, therefore, only two females will weigh in on opinions.

    Still, curiosity looms about what the future holds. Discussions focus on how the group will impact case outcomes, specific areas of the law, women in the legal profession, and the general image of leadership perceived by today’s youth. Others consider potential impacts of three female justices compared to one or two, and whether the women justices’ dispositions are representative of women in general. Contrastingly, while some assume that gender will play at least some role in this new era, others may also question whether gender, as opposed to other factors, will be what shapes future Court dynamics.

    Ultimately, whether three is a magic number that alters the Court’s direction in one or more of these ways remains to be seen. Suffice it to say at this point that for many years to come, eyes and ears will be on the three justices who make this term a "first."

    Maureen A. Redeker, Manhattan, Kansas


    October 5, 2010

    Putting Work-Life Balance in Perspective


    To comply with a Pentagon policy barring women from joining combat branches, a special unit of female Marines was sent to Afghanistan to "accompany" infantry on their patrols. A legal review of compliance with the Pentagon policy recently refined the letter of what these brave women could do and under what circumstances. Read more about this special mission to reach out to women in Afghanistan and the challenges facing female soldiers in combat in The New York Times article linked below. The circumstances these brave women face gives concerns about work life balance a whole new meaning.

    Anne Marie Seibel, Bradley Arent Boult & Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL


    September 24, 2010

    The Number Of Federal Civil Trials Are At a Historic Low


    A recent blog from The Wall Street Journal states federal judges are presiding over far fewer civil trials than at any time in history. According to the blog, the National Law Journal chronicles the percentage of federal civil cases that went to trial have dropped over the years from 11.5 percent in 1962 to 6.1 percent in 1982 to 1.2 percent in 2009. Judge Brock Hornby attributes this decline to "outside forces" and gives a list of nine reasons to back this up. To name a few: lawyers have learned to measure which cases will be profitable; more lawyers and law firms use alternative dispute resolution and more contracts contain clauses requiring it; electronic discovery has significantly jacked the cost of litigation; and news and entertainment portray juries as irrational, unpredictable, and out of control.



    Four Law Firms Make Working Mother's Top 100 List.


    Four law firms are once again on Working Mother magazine's list of the 100 best companies for work-life balance. Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., was "best in class" for parental leave. Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., offers nearby day care and health advocates to help employees make the most of their health insurance benefits. Katten Muchin Rosenman in Chicago, IL, offers paid month-long leaves of absence to associates with five years of tenure. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in New York, NY, gives new parents six weeks of paid leave and allows lawyers to phase back in to full-time practice at the end of their leave.



    Study Finds That Gender Rather than Lower Productivity Explains Lower Pay for Female Partners


    A new study by Temple University law professor Marina Angel and University of Texas-Pan American professor Eun-Young Whang finds that women partners are no less productive than their male counterparts when it comes to generating revenue per lawyer; however, women partners are paid less than their male counterparts.



    Salary Gaps May Be Due to Biased Compensation Practices


    The salary gap where female partners earn on average 22 percent less than their male counterparts may be a result of fundamental biases in law firms' compensation practices rather than women's parenting or other familial duties, according to a report released on Wednesday, July 7, 2010, by the Project for Attorney Retention and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Only one-third of income and minority partners, and less than half of equity partners, reported being satisfied with their compensation, as compared with a 75 percent satisfaction rate reported by male partners. In addition, approximately one-third of respondents said they had been bullied, threatened, or intimidated out of origination credit—a key component in setting compensation at many law firms.



    Women in the South Are Represented in the State Judiciary


    This interesting article discusses how women in the judiciary in Southern states attained those positions through hard work, and, often by being more attractive to the electorate in states in which the judiciary are elected to the bench. The article also discusses how women bring a diversity of experience to the bench that is different from their male colleagues, which can be critical to understanding cases before them. 



    Female In-House Counsel Can Promote Change


    Women have been represented in more than 50 percent of graduating classes from law schools for years now, yet the percentage of women attaining law firm partnership has not grown proportionately. A recent study by Veta Richardson and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association along with the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Project for Attorney Retention at the University of California Hastings College of the Law indicates that, even after achieving partnership, women may face difficulties in maintaining their equity partner status and in fighting for compensation on par with their male counterparts.



    Women Lawyers to Follow on Twitter


    You would have to be living under a rock to not know that the use of social networking websites as a marketing tool exploded in 2009, and based on the recent ABA Techshow, it is expected to continue to be an important tool to gaining and retaining clients. Although various social networking mediums such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook provide excellent potential for rainmaking and networking, Twitter is particularly unique in that it provides the ability to communicate easily and cross paths with people you otherwise may never have met. Twitter, however, can be slightly overwhelming, especially for new users. To help you get started, below is a list of women on Twitter who tweet about legal issues—some serious and some just plain entertaining, but all worth following.

    I hope you enjoy following these twittering women as much as I do. Remember, the Twitter universe is enormous, ever-changing, and seemingly infinite in its number of users and possibilities. I’m sure I haven’t been lucky enough to find all of the great women tweeters out there.


    NALP Request Dismissed

    Law firms have dismissed a request made by the National Association for Law Placement for details about equity versus nonequity partners in their ranks, which is raising ire among women lawyers.


    Saudi Arabia Could Soon Allow Women Lawyers to Appear in Court

    Saudi Arabia could soon allow women lawyers to appear in court, though apparently only representing other women, the country's justice minister said in comments published on Sunday.


    Women in British Law Firms

    Women make up less than 20 percent of total partners in Britain’s 30 biggest law firms, a study by Legal Week, a trade publication, will show. Among the magic circle firms—Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Slaughter and May—the average is only 15 percent.


    Women and the Law Texas Symposium

    A Great Read: Women and the Law in the Winter 2009 issue of The Advocate from the Litigation Section of the Texas state bar. Topics include women's progress in the law and the challenges that remain, role models, business development, and work-life balance as well as practice guides on gender discrimination, jury psychology, and divorce.


    A Lack of Diversity on Court of Appeals

    Minnesota's Diana Murphy is the only woman ever to have served on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Eleven judges sit on this St. Louis, Mo.-based court. Nine of these judges were appointed after Murphy, and all of them are men. Read more.


    Hamas Courts Tell Women Lawyers to Cover Their Hair

    A Hamas-appointed chief justice in the Gaza Strip has ordered female lawyers to wear a head scarf in court, drawing criticism from human rights groups in the territory controlled by the Islamist group.  Read more.


    Study Reveals that Female Lawyers with Masculine Names May Have a Better Shot at Judgeships

    Women lawyers with masculine-sounding first names have better odds of becoming a judge than their counterparts with feminine names, at least in South Carolina, according to a study by two economics researchers.


    Too Many Women Lawyers are Like Oz’s Dorothy, Partner Says

    "Too many women lawyers are like Dorothy, asking for no credit, reward or recognition," Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe employment law partner Patricia Gillette writes, “And thus, no one knows what she has done and no one thinks of her as a leader.”


    The Waves Minority Judges Always Make

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and currently the only female justice, said that she and Justice O’Connor, who preceded her, brought a distinct perspective to the court. But Justice Ginsburg said her own influence in all sorts of cases at the justices’ conferences was uncertain: 'it isn’t until somebody else says it that everyone will focus on the point,' Ginsburg said.


    Female Lawyers Stuck in the Middle

    Read about findings from the Minority Law Journal’s survey of Am Law 200 and NLJ 250 firms about their minority head counts.


    New Study: Female Lawyers Leave Firms Primarily to Seek Flexible Situations

    Women lawyers in New Jersey are more likely to quit if their law firm does not have flexible work arrangements, and they are gravitating toward firms that do, says a new survey of women lawyers across New Jersey.


    At 14 Law Firms, Partner Promotions in 2008 Didn’t Include Women

    Fourteen out of 100 law firms surveyed didn’t include a single woman in their partner promotions last year, but for some the results were an aberration.


    Obama signs 'Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act'

    The law reverses a Supreme Court ruling that declared plaintiffs had to file wage claims within 180 days of a company's decision to pay a worker less than a counterpart doing the same work. To read more about President Obama's moving statement before he signed the act into law, click below.


    Senate Nears Passage of Wage Discrimination Bill

    The bill would reverse a 2007 Supreme Court holding and make clear that every one of a plaintiff’s paychecks that results from wage discrimination constitutes a new legal violation, thereby extending the 180-day limitations period.


    Survey: Most Attorneys Working Part-Time Are Women

    A survey by the National Association for Law Placement reveals that, although 98 percent of law offices allow attorneys to work part-time, very few lawyers do. Of that few, women are the vast majority.


    Women Partners Weigh in on Chief Justice Controversy

    The cause of New York’s controversy: the total absence of women from the list of candidates from whom Governor David Paterson must choose the state’s next chief judge.


    Michelle Obama’s ‘Mommy’ Stamp

    A recent Washington Post article reveals that no one is immune from the work-life-balance struggle, especially not soon-to-be First Lady Michelle Obama.


    Female Partners Climb at 11 Firms

    The Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women reported a 25-percent success rate in response to its "Call to Action" program directed toward increasing firm’s female partnership ranks. In 2005, the Alliance for Women challenged Chicago law firms to increase their number of female partners by at least three percentage points. Eleven of the 44 firms who accepted the challenge achieved that goal. While some female lawyers have criticized the Alliance’s reported results because they include women who have achieved the title of "partner" but do not have equity in their firms, others applaud the program for highlighting for firms issues of gender parity.


    The Top 10 Family Friendly Firms

    Yale Law Women releases their list of the Top Ten Family Friendly Firms for 2008.


    The 50 Best Law Firms for Women in 2008

    Working Mother has compiled their 2008 List of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women.


    Being a Lawyer and Male Makes You a Top Earner, Census Report Shows

    Salaries for women lawyers continue to lag behind salaries for their male counterparts, according to a recent Census Bureau report.


    Allegheny County Bar Association Launches Gender Equality Initiative

    The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that the Allegheny County, PA Bar Association announced the founding of its Institute for Gender Equality and has issued best practices recommendations toward leveling the pay gap and other equality issues among men and women lawyers in the Pittsburgh area.


    Parenting: Mom? Lawyer? The Ambivalence Track

    NOV 4, 2007—Women who have taken time off from work to become a parent are weighing their approaches as they plan to resume their careers.


    Fewer Women Are Seeking Law Degrees

    OCT 2, 2007—Since 2002, the percentage of women in law schools has declined each year, according to the America Bar Association. Cathy Fleming, a partner at Nixon Peabody and past president of the National Association for Women Lawyers, says a perception among young women that they have a wider array of career opportunities is one reason, but a change in work ethic is also at play. And law firms, with their reputation for punishing work hours, may have a tougher sell to college graduates. (From the National Law Journal)


    Maternity Leave in the United States

    SEPT 5, 2007—Paid parental leave is still not standard, even among the best U.S. employers. Institute for Women’s Policy Research analysis reveals minimal coverage for working parents.


    Becoming a Rainmaker

    AUG 14, 2007—Christine Cartwright Baker, a partner at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath based in Princeton, N.J., tells about the best practices of personal marketing for women attorneys, covering a range of issues from asking for referrals to getting the word out about accomplishments.


    Top law firms are taking steps to counter ‘female brain drain’

    AUG 24, 2007—“Top firms have taken notice of the female brain drain. And they are not alone; large corporations and other professional service firms have also noticed the disproportionate loss of female professionals and the high cost it exacts. They are losing talent as well as their investment in recruiting and training these women.”


    Working Mother Lists Top 50 Law Firms

    AUG 14, 2007—A new player has just entered the law-firm rankings game. Working Mother magazine, in an issue that arrived on newsstands today, has listed 50 law firms that it considers particularly attuned to the concerns of its readers.