Women-Owned Law Firms Surge Amid Gender Disparity in the Profession

Work-life balance is often pegged as the reason women leave traditional law firms. But for the growing number of women establishing their own firms, their departure is often rooted more deeply in gender inequality in the profession than in raising children or having more free time. “If women were feeling valued, were getting properly rewarded for their efforts, were getting their fair share and it wasn’t a constant struggle to get your origination credit, and feel you are part of the team—then you would stay,” said Nicole Galli, who in 2017 co-founded a trade association, Women Owned Law, which has already grown to 200 members. Also growing in membership is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, which doles out the prestigious Women’s Business Enterprise certification. It currently certifies 300 law firms, and just 11 percent of those law firms have held their certifications for 10 years or more. A full 50 percent of them just earned certification within the past five years. Among the 300 WBE-certified law firms, 16 percent were newly founded within the past five years, according to council spokeswoman Jessica Carlson. Originally published on law.com on Oct. 9, 2018. Download a PDF.

‘Extreme Part-Time’ Lawyer-Moms Flock to Freelance Firms

After having her second child, Southern California litigator Erin Giglia worked part-time for law firm Snell & Wilmer, but fellow associate Laurie Rowen had different plans for work when her baby girl was born 16 days after Giglia’s daughter.

Rowen always knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, while continuing to do legal work on an extremely part-time basis. It took nearly a year for Giglia to jump on board, but when she did, the pair co-founded Montage Legal Group, a new legal business model especially attractive to women.

Montage and firms like it have proven a good match for all sorts of lawyers who want to set their own work terms, but they have become particularly popular with lawyer moms who want to dramatically reduce their hours after they give birth, but who also want to stay in the legal game. The part-time experience at these kinds of firms also eases the transition back into the profession full time, if they choose to, when their children get older.

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Why 3 BigLaw firms ended use of mandatory arbitration clauses

by Angela Morris (ABA Journal, June 2018)

Like many things these days, it all started with a tweet.

On March 24, Harvard Law School lecturer Ian Samuel tweeted out select provisions of a leaked copy of a mandatory arbitration agreement from Munger, Tolles & Olson. According to the tweets, summer associates working for the firm had to waive their right to sue the firm in court and, instead, submit any claims they might have, including sexual or racial discrimination, to arbitration instead.

“I think this is the grossest thing I’ve ever heard. Munger ought to be ashamed,” wrote Samuel, who didn’t return a call seeking comment.

At a time when the Me Too movement has scrutinized the thought of mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims, Samuel argued that the policy was meant to shield the firm from exactly those types of claims. One of his posts in that thread was retweeted nearly 600 times and picked up by several media outlets. The backlash toward Munger Tolles was instantaneous. The day after Samuel’s tweet, the law firm announced on Twitter that it would no longer require any employee to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement. That same day, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also announced on Twitter it was ending its arbitration agreements for any employees, including associates. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom dropped its arbitration agreements for nonpartners after reviewing its policies in response to the Me Too movement, according to a Law360 article.

Read the whole story on ABAJournal.com.

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Move Over Moms, Male Lawyers Are Using Flextime Too

Say the word “flextime” and most people think of reduced hours for working mothers. But a small, yet growing number of male lawyers are using lighter job schedules to strike the right work-life balance.

More law firms in recent years have incorporated flextime policies—especially reduced-hour schedules—to help with attorney retention. And women, more than men, have used the policies to balance their jobs with raising kids.

But more widespread adoption by male attorneys of the benefit is expected to lift all boats—helping women lawyers juggle demands and attracting millennial attorneys less interested in working a constant grind.

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PDF: Move Over Moms, Male Lawyers Are Using Flextime Too _ Law.com

 

Women Lawyers Join #MeToo Movement with Hashtag of Their Own

The legal profession’s own #MeToo movement is playing out on Twitter.

Under the hashtag #LadyLawyerDiaries, the discussion over the last year has evolved to tackle serious and pervasive issues surrounding women in the law. It’s become a movement that enables female attorneys to speak out collectively about gender bias and sexual harassment in the legal profession.

We talked with Greenberg Traurig partner Kendyl Hanks of Austin, one woman—along with Goodwin associate Jaime Santos of Washington, D.C.—among a core group of about 15 female attorneys who have joined forces to tweet as one under the @LadyLawyerDiaryhandle. The group ranges in age from 20 to 40, coming from diverse legal backgrounds—law clerks, court staff attorneys, law firm associates and partners, law professors, in-house counsel.

Link.

PDF: Women Lawyers Join #MeToo Movement with Hashtag of Their Own _ Law

Federal Judge’s Incentive Gives Women Lawyers More Speaking Roles in Court

In light of a recent study showing female lawyers aren’t getting many speaking roles in the courtroom, one federal judge in Texas noted that she’s indirectly increased opportunities for women attorneys by encouraging firms to send young lawyers to argue at hearings.

While trying to provide courtroom experience to young lawyers in the age of the vanishing jury trial, Chief Judge Barbara Lynn of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas created a voluntary rule in her court about 10 years ago that said if firms sent young attorneys to argue their own briefs and motions at hearings, she would be more likely to grant an oral argument. Even though her main goal was training the lawyers of the future, many of those getting opportunities are women and minorities—something she hoped would happen. Those opportunities have been amplified as 20 to 30 other federal judges have followed Lynn’s lead and created young lawyer rules of their own.

Published on Law.com on August 9, 2017.

PDF: Federal Judge’s Incentive Gives Women Lawyers More Speaking Roles in Court

 

Film About Women Leaving Law Airs Nationwide Starting Next Month

Millions of people across the country will soon better understand the struggles that women lawyers face every day to succeed in the legal profession.

Starting in July, more than 260 public television stations across the country will begin showing the documentary “Balancing the Scales,” a film by Georgia lawyer and filmmaker Sharon Rowen. American Public Media is distributing the film to affiliates in all the major markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta. Stations are allowed to play the show any time over the next two years.

Published on Law.com on June 26, 2017.

PDF: Film About Women Leaving Law Airs Nationwide Starting Next Month _ Law