I've posted here
previously about how the exodus of women from private practice might
serve as an alert to the fact that something needs to change in the
private practice model.
More recently, I've been wondering why it is that many of those who
have left that model behind are not engaging in the current discussions
about where the practice of law is headed. I suspect these women have
strong opinions and good ideas about what needs to change. I'm also not
hearing the voices of more recently called lawyers, although I
appreciate that the pressures of the early years of practice may make it
especially challenging to form an opinion, never mind to find time to
But this is, it seems to me, the perfect moment to "lean in"
and speak out about what it is that drives women out of legal practice,
and even more importantly, what could be different so that more women
will remain in the practice of law. At this time, when there is a
growing understanding that change is not only inevitable but coming at
an accelerating rate, when there is a call for innovative approaches
that better meet the needs of both clients and their lawyers, there is
also an incredible opportunity for women lawyers to step forward to
drive and lead this process.
Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers have put Michigan's Honigman Miller on its 2013
list of 50 Best Law Firms for Women. An executive summary suggests that women are making progress toward equity in the law firm setting. The award list is determined on the basis of applications that ask 300 questions about workforce representation, time off
and leaves, child care, flexibility, leadership, compensation and
advancement of women, and development and retention of women. The winning firms, according to Working Mother and Flex-time Lawyers, lead the industry in supporting flexible work arrangements and offering generous paid parental leave, and ensure that lawyers who take advantage of family friendly programs are not excluded from the partnership or leadership track.
Here are key Honigman stats that earned it recognition:
Female Equity Partners 18%
Female Nonequity Partners 30%
Lawyers Working Reduced Hours 6%
Milwaukee-based Foley and Lardner, with 34 attorneys in its Michigan office, also earned a spot on the list.
The American Bar Association is serious about gender equity in the workplace. And no wonder. Statistics show that the average white woman earns 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. For other women, things are even worse. In the legal profession, women partners earn significantly less than their male counterparts even when they're doing the same work, with a similar book of business, and are making similar contributions to the law firm.
What to do? The ABA has invited everyone to join a "virtual march" for gender equity by clicking an icon. The virtual march started on Equal Pay Day on April 9th and continues through the ABA’s Day of the Woman on August 9,2013. Here's the pitch:
The visual of hundreds of thousands of people descending on the steps
of the Lincoln Memorial and the sea of people coming together for the
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 has become an iconic
representation of people standing in concert to effect change. While
nothing can ever replace the historic transcendence of that day, in this
new millennium a virtual voice carries the same power and ability to
effect change as a physical presence. Can you hear the swell of a
million women and men clicking their mouse in a virtual march for the
basic right of equality? We can! In that vein, the ABA Task Force on
Gender Equity invites all to participate in a virtual march in support
of gender equity.
It's hard to pick a favorite sentence in that paragraph, but we'll go with this one for mind-blowing understatement -- "While
nothing can ever replace [rival?] the historic transcendence of that day, in this
new millennium a virtual voice carries the same power and ability to
effect change as a physical presence." Umhh, really?
While we were transfixed by the rhetoric of the pitch, Prof. Christine Hurt at the Conglomerate Blog was focusing on the graphics -- the icon the ABA is urging folks to click on to join the virtual march. Playing on the pun "Click your heels," the ABA has chosen a pair of red high heels. Hurt observes:
There's nothing that says equity more than imagining a female attorney
in shoes that are made more for nighttime party activities than working
as an attorney. High heels, particularly sky-high heels, in red
nonetheless, aren't really associated with gender equity. They are
associated with sexy fashions and foot problems. I don't think I can
"march" either virtually or literally in those shoes.
If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times -- puns can be dangerous.
Born July 16, 1849. A seriously amazing human being. For starters, read her Wikipedia bio. A sample:
At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, during a "congress" of the Board of Lady Managers, Foltz introduced her idea of the public defender, with a speech entitled "Rights of Persons Accused of Crime — Abuses Now Existing." Foltz's then-radical concept of providing assistance to indigent criminal defendants is used today throughout the United States. She also created a similar model for the California Parole System.
Yes. According to this working paper, voters in South Carolina preferred "nominally masculine" females over other female candidates. The researchers labelled their work a test of the "Portia Hypothesis, and based their correlation of names to success on the "joint empirical distribution of names and gender in the state’s entire population of registered voters." (Huh?)
To think that we in Michigan thought it all boiled down to an Irish last name.
Even the names people choose for their children vary from simple to
complex, and that decision determines some of their outcomes later in
life. With the psychologists Simon Laham and Peter Koval, I found
that people prefer politicians with simpler names—and lawyers in
American firms with fluent names rise up the legal hierarchy to
partnership more quickly than their non-fluently named colleagues. (The
result persisted even when we focussed on Anglo-American names, so it
doesn’t simply boil down to xenophobic prejudice.)
Last week the nation celebrated State Bar of Michigan member John Dingell for becoming the longest serving member of Congress in history (57 years and 177 days, to be exact). Dingell told numerous interviewers that his proudest moment in those 57 years was his vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The same Congress 50 years ago today passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and it was another Michigan lawyer and member of Congress who led the way -- Martha Griffiths. She can be seen second from the right at the bill signing.
The editors-in-chief of the six student led law journals are
Dayna Zolle, Michigan Law Review,
Emma Cox, Michigan Journal of Law Reform,
Julia Stuebing, Michigan Journal of
International Law, Greer Donley and Gina Myers-Schulz, Michigan Journal of Gender and Law, Emily Gilman, Michigan Journal of Race and Law, and
Sarah Cork, Michigan
Telecommunications and Technology Law Review (MTTLR).
In addition, Michigan also has two provisional law journals, the Michigan Journal of Environmental and
Administrative Law and the Michigan
Journal of Private Equity and Venture Capital Law, whose editors-in-chief
are Jamen Tyler and Rachel Shapiro, respectively.
As they might have said in the nineteen-sixties,
"Congratulations, girls!" When Sally Katzen was chosen as the
editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Journal in 1966, it was national
news. The New York Times ran this story:
Sally Katzen, 23
years old, became the first girl to be elected editor in chief of the
65-year-old Michigan Law Review. The Review is a scholarly journal frequently
cited in litigants’ briefs and court decisions, and ranks among the top such
publications in the United States. “I’ve been told the job will take about 60
hours a week – but I hope I won’t have to give up my social life,” Miss Katzen,
a native of Pittsburgh, said after her election.”
Her local paper
Local Lawyer Lass to
Edit Michigan Law Review Sally Katzen, University of Michigan Law School
student, was elected editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review for 1966-67,
the first girl to be so honored since the scholarly journal began publication
here in 1902.
Sally Katzen has gone on to a most distinguished
legal career and to inspire and entertain untold numbers of women (this blogger
among them) with first-hand accounts of sexism and counter-sexism strategies.