One Way To Overcome Barriers to Women's Advancement in Big Law
This story is not about what your law firm can do for you because it's not going to do anything to advance the careers of women either because it's the right thing to do or because it's the smart thing to do (i.e., good law firm management).
How many times do I have to say that people do not voluntarily giveup economic power and will never voluntarily change the status quo as long as it's delivering money and power to the people who already have it (who will eventually nevertheless learn that the wheel of fortune is always turning but that's another post for another day).
For anyone who believes law firms are supporting their women, please note that the women who would be willing to share effective means of advancing their Big Law careers were not permitted to talk to Marketplace because those means are not official firm policy.
We're therefore no longer talking about implied bias or benign neglect, we're talking active suppression.
That said, here's the snippet from the Marketplace report.
Women make up about 16 percent of equity partners at big law firms -- a number that has barely budged in a decade. This despite the fact women graduate from law school in almost the same numbers as men. Women partners also earn on average just under $500,000 a year, while men earn $734,000, according to a recent survey of lawyers' compensation. Some female lawyers have had enough of these discrepancies, and they're pushing for change.
Women lawyers at top firms hate drawing attention to their gender. "We've been told for decades that if we talk about women's issues we're whining," says Victoria Pynchon, a litigator for 25 years and co-founder of a consultancy called She Negotiates. She says a new generation of women is realizing they can't get to the top just by working hard and following the rules.
"Women lawyers in these major law firms are saying good bye to all of that, and they are exercising power without being given the authority to do so," she says. "And this is something that men do without even thinking about it."
For example, she says at one large firm, when they vote for a new equity partner, women partners now come together to support the best female candidate.
That may sound like a small thing, but by bloc voting, they improve that candidate's chance of getting elected. Women at that firm didn't want to talk on the record because what they're doing is not official firm policy.