Bookmark this page on your mobile

QR Code image

What is this?

Daily Court Reporter - News Annual 2018: Why women leave the law—and what we can do about it

 

Annual 2018: Why women leave the law—and what we can do about it

The issue of women leaving the practice of law at what should be the height of their careers, and what can be done about it was the focus of one of ABA President Hilarie Bass’ initiatives. At the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, the “Long-Term Careers for Women in Law: What’s Pushing Women Out and What Can We Do to Keep Them in the Profession?” program laid out what a year’s worth of scientific research has revealed about the dilemma.

Even though women have comprised nearly half of all law students and incoming associates at law firms for many years, they remain greatly outnumbered by men in the senior ranks of law firms, corporate law departments and other practice settings. If steps are not taken to change the current trend, the percentage of women equity partners will remain stuck at under 20 percent for decades to come.

The presidential initiative, Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law, focused on the unique issues and career dynamics facing women lawyers in practice for over 20 years, and explored the reasons for their disproportionately high rate of attrition. It also looked at the career paths of senior women lawyers who continue to practice.

The initiative undertook three avenues of research:

ALM Intelligence surveyed managing partners and lawyers with 20-plus years of experience at 350 firms to explore women’s career trajectories.

The ABA surveyed law school alumni 20-plus years after graduation, covering all areas in which lawyers work, finding what percentages are still practicing law and asking why and why not.

The ABA and American Bar Foundation joined forces to conduct focus groups to uncover what participants like and dislike about the practice of law. The focus groups took place in the past year in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston. They consisted of women still practicing law after 15 or more years, as well as women who dropped out of practicing after 15 or more years.

In addition, national summits were held at Harvard Law School in November and at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in June to discuss the issues and identify best practices.

At the program, panelist Joyce Sterling, emeritus professor of legal ethics and the legal profession at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, will discuss the results of the focus groups. She says that they revealed that most of the aspects of law practice that women disliked involved some form of discrimination, including:

Paternalism

Tokenism

Lack of “face-time”

An atmosphere of competition vs. teamwork

Sexual harassment

Issues with credit allocation.

When asked why gender disparities remain at law firms, Sterling says the focus groups pointed to:

Closed compensation system

The credit system disadvantages women

The breadmaker/homemaker stereotypes persist

The “boys club” limits opportunities for women

Ageism impacts men and women differently.

The focus groups had ideas for how to change the system, she says, and among them are:

Develop succession plans for distributing credit

Diversify leadership and make sure leadership champions diversity

Provide continuous training with a focus on business development

Offer on-ramping opportunities

Include men in diversity discussions and policies

Formalize policies.

Stephanie Scharf, co-chair of the Advisory Council for ABA Presidential Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law, chair of the ABA Commission on Women and partner at Scharf Banks Marmor LLC in Chicago, and Andrew Neblett, president of ALM Intelligence in New York, will discuss the ALM Intelligence survey results.

She notes that regarding their work at law firms, men and women reported stark differences in:

having received unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other conduct of a sexual nature

having experienced a lack of access to business development opportunities

being denied or overlooked for advancement or promotional opportunities

being denied a salary increase or bonus

having experienced a lack of access to sponsors

having felt treated as a token representative for diversity.

When asked about factors that affected why they left the legal profession,

Almost three times as many men as women identified an emphasis on marketing or originating business as important or very important factors in why they left

Almost half of women and one-fifth of men identified caretaking commitments as important or very important factors in why they left.

These and many other findings will be reported on at the program, with the final report, which will include a series of recommendations that law firms can follow to address this phenomenon, expected by the end of September.

“The research should allow us to understand, on the basis of systematic survey data, why women leave the profession and why they stay,” Scharf says, “and to use that information to frame effective employment policies so that law firms, corporate law departments and other legal employers have the best tools possible to retain and advance talented women.”

The panel will be moderated by Roberta Liebenberg, co-chair of the Advisory Council for ABA Presidential Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law and a senior partner at Fine, Kaplan and Black in Philadelphia, and will also include Joanne Epps, executive vice president and provost of Temple University in Philadelphia.

About the American Bar Association

The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. It is committed to doing what only a national association of attorneys can do: serving our members, improving the legal profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advancing the rule of law throughout the United States and around the world.

Founded in 1878, the ABA is committed to supporting the legal profession with practical resources for legal professionals while improving the administration of justice, accrediting law schools, establishing model ethical codes, and more. Membership is open to lawyers, law students, and others interested in the law and the legal profession.

Our national headquarters are in Chicago, and we maintain a significant office in Washington D.C.

Date Published: August 23, 2018

 

American Bar Association

 

Montgomery County Clerk of Commission retiring after 30 years of dedicated service

Montgomery County Clerk of Commission, Gayle Ingram, has retired after a 30-year career in public service. Ingram was appointed Clerk of Commission in 2010 after serving as Manager of Commission Services and Deputy Clerk for the Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners. She began her career in public service back in 1979 with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and went on to serve in roles with New Futures for Dayton Area Youth, Inc. and the Office of Family and Children First.

University of Dayton football opened preseason camp Sunday

University of Dayton head football coach Rick Chamberlin and his staff welcomed 114 players back to campus Sunday, August 5 as the Flyers prepare for the 2018 football season. UD opens the season at home vs, Robert Morris on Sept. 1.

Annual 2018: Why women leave the law—and what we can do about it

The issue of women leaving the practice of law at what should be the height of their careers, and what can be done about it was the focus of one of ABA President Hilarie Bass’ initiatives. At the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago, the “Long-Term Careers for Women in Law: What’s Pushing Women Out and What Can We Do to Keep Them in the Profession?” program laid out what a year’s worth of scientific research has revealed about the dilemma.

Report: Despite evolving technology, Ohio still a manufacturing powerhouse

Manufacturing continues to be a significant sector for Ohio - including Franklin County, according to a new report from the Ohio Manufacturers' Association.

Chinese national living in Massachusetts pleaded guilty to distributing opioids and other drugs that were shipped from China to the U.S. and ultimately to Ohio

A Chinese national who had been living in Massachusetts pleaded guilty to distributing opioids and other drugs that were shipped from China to the United States and ultimately to Ohio.

Supreme Court of Ohio suspends lawyer for profanity-laced abuse of paralegal

A Cleveland lawyer’s paralegal repeatedly recorded conversations of her boss berating her physical appearance and dress, and calling her a “ho,” “dirtbag,” and other obscenities. The lawyer’s explanation for his behavior was that he learned the lingo from rappers and hip-hop artists he represents as an entertainment lawyer, and he thought he was being funny.

Ponzi scheme victims cannot sue brokers who sent funds to perpetrator

Ohio law does not allow victims of an alleged Dayton Ponzi scheme to seek financial recovery from brokers that unknowingly purchased fraudulent investments from the scam perpetrator at the direction of the victims, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled recently.

A year after fatal State Fair ride accident, legislation still under discussion

As Ohio fair season continues throughout the summer and early fall, lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives have unfinished business relating to a bill that aims to beef up amusement ride safety, in the opinion of one of their own.

Report shows that stricter land regulations contribute to higher home prices

With stricter land-use regulations, homeowners can expect higher home values and strong job growth, according to a new report.

Bill aimed to protect people's due process

Upon return from summer recess, lawmakers seated for a committee in the Ohio House of Representatives may consider a piece of legislation meant to correct officially a public record.

Twelve charged in moving company scams

Law enforcement asks potential additional victims to call or email hotline

Bill launched by Attorney General’s CyberOhio Initiative signed into law

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today released the following statement regarding Senate Bill 220, the Data Protection Act sponsored by State Senators Bob Hackett (R-London) and Kevin Bacon (R-Westerville) being signed into law:

Supreme Court of Ohio dismisses violations against attorney who represented man he never met

The Ohio Supreme Court recently dismissed rule violation charges against a Cleveland attorney who filed and lost the criminal conviction appeal of man he never met or spoke to until after the case ended.

Therapy dog’s ‘pawsitive’ influence on drug court participants noticeable

Facing a judge can be intimidating. But in Summit County, there’s a new probation officer who provides some hand holding, at least with his paws.

August is national immunization month

August is National Immunization Month and Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is reminding parents to have their school-age children vaccinated.

Dayton athletics hosts YMCA Olympics

The University of Dayton partnered with the YMCA to host the twelfth annual YMCA Olympics.

Final defendants sentenced in pharmacy robberies case

The final two of eight defendants were sentenced in U.S. District Court today for their roles in pharmacy robberies in Fairfield, Middletown, Franklin, Hamilton, Westerville, Trotwood, Dayton, Oakwood, Kettering, Beavercreek, Moraine, Vandalia, Union Township and Cincinnati.

Fiona the Hippo book launch party

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is thrilled to invite children of all ages to the launch party of the latest book about its most famous resident, Fiona the hippo, on August 7, 2018. Published by Zonderkidz, the children’s division of Zondervan, Fiona the Hippo features charming artwork from New York Times bestselling illustrator and Cincinnati native, Richard Cowdrey.

Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact wins National Smokey Bear award

The Mid-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact’s (MAIFFPC) Fire Prevention Committee was recently presented with the Golden Smokey Award, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Ohio’s representative on the committee, Aaron Kloss of Centerburg in Knox County, accepted the honor on behalf of the ODNR Division of Forestry. The presentation ceremony took place at Vinton Furnace State Forest on Wednesday in conjunction with the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance summer meeting.

Montgomery County innovative program receives prestigious state award

Montgomery County’s “Trucks and Tomatoes” Job Training and Urban Garden Enhancement Project is the recipient of the 2018 President’s Award for Innovative Practices by the Ohio Conference on Community Development.