A newly released American Bar Association (ABA) report entitled, “In Their Own Words: Experienced Women Lawyers Explain Why They Are Leaving Their Law Firms and the Profession,” aims to shed light on factors that affect career decision making amongst experienced female lawyers. This includes information on why practitioners choose to remain in practice, move to a different job within the law or step out of the profession altogether after 15 or more years of practice.
The report was written by Joyce Sterling, a professor at the Sturm College of Law in Denver, and Linda Chanow, executive director of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas. The report includes analysis on the components that advance or impede long-term careers for female lawyers. The research was carried out via focus groups in six cities across the USA, as well as through individual interviews, with comments made during the interviews including:
“You give me the hardest problems to solve, but you tell me I am less important with the compensation you give me.”
“I don’t feel like I have anyone in a position of power who can personally relate to me.”
“[T]he power dynamic is very real. . . [P]eople are very uncomfortable when women lean into their power.”
The report includes recommendations designed to increase retention of female attorneys which include:
- Assess the impact of firm policies and practices on female lawyers.
- Take steps to ensure there is a critical mass of female partners on key firm committees.
- Increase lateral hiring of female partners.
- Provide resources to relieve pressures from family obligations.
- Be flexible to support changing practices.
ABA President Patricia Lee Refo has said.“This report highlights the ongoing systemic barriers women still face in the legal profession. These women’s personal stories are eye-opening, and the recommendations illustrate the changes we need to make to support and advance all female lawyers.”
Read the full report here, or read more here.
Much has been written about how automation will change the legal profession as a whole, less so about how automation might affect women in legal practice. This paper briefly maps the likely changes that legal tech (legal technology) will bring to the provision of legal services, and explores how these changes might affect the barriers to advancement that women face in the profession. It determines that, while the use of legal tech may improve women’s work/life balance and overall job satisfaction by bringing about more flexible working hours, positive changes to the billing hours’ system, and fairer hiring and promotion mechanisms, an unfettered inclusion of legal tech might lead to increased working hours for less wages, increased competition for case files among associates, and the perpetuation of existing gender biases when using algorithms in the hiring and promotion process. Finally, the paper makes several recommendations on how law societies, bar associations and other relevant regulatory bodies could ensure that legal tech promotes rather than hinders Equality & Diversity in the legal profession. It proposes that:
(1) detailed data on men and women lawyers should be collected to better inform equality and diversity policies;
(2) law firms should be required to report on their progress in pursuing equality and diversity;
(3) management techniques to promote work/life balance and more flexible pricing systems should be encouraged;
(4) female entrepreneurship in legal tech should be promoted; and,
(5) technological due process procedures should be required when using algorithms in law firm management to ensure fairness, accuracy and accountability
Munisami, Kayal, Legal Technology and the Future of Women in Law (2019). 36 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 164, 2019.
Read the full article on SSRN.
A new survey released by the American Bar Association and ALM Intelligence is addressing why women are leaving big law. The Walking Out The Door: The Facts, Figures, and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice study is part of an ABA initiative launched by former-President Hilarie Bass. Over the past decades, women have made up roughly 45-50% of entering associate classes at large law firms, however, women make up only 30% of non-equity partners and 20% of equity partners.
Read the full report at the ABA site (PDF).
Stable coins, the rise of custodial solutions and the recent announcement of Fidelity launching an institutional platform for Bitcoin and Ethereum are all designed to make it easier for institutional investors to partake in the cryptocurrency market.
Yet a number of questions arise as the cryptocurrency ecosystem continues to expand its reach to traditional financial markets. Trust must be built among new market participants, countries leading innovation need to respond to legal concerns and actions should to be taken to pave the way for both accredited and non-accredited investors to step foot into the cryptocurrency market.
As a result, lawyers specializing in cryptocurrency related matters have become key players for ensuring the success of the global adoption of digital assets. Three women lawyers in particular are taking action to help define legal uncertainties currently facing the evolving crypto ecosystem.
Read the full article here
*This article first appeared in Forbes magazine.