More Woes for Women in the Legal World

Legal Pad got a pretty decent readership spike with the item we posted late last week about the Forbes article suggesting that “career girls” — such as lawyers of a certain gender — make lousy mates. If hiking our hits is as easy as pointing out the crap women have to deal with in the legal profession, our future is secure:

The always essential Wall Street Journal Law Blog offers two items today about women in law: First, a census report indicates that, in a world where women always appear to earn less than men, they’re most under-earning in the legal profession. Is it the old white men at the top holding women down, or is it what ABA President Karen Mathis tells the WSJ? “As with so many other fields, support staff in law tend to be more populated by women than by men, and those numbers bring down the statistical information on women’s earnings.”

Women aren’t often underpaid at the U.S. Supreme Court, though. That’s ’cause there are few women in the building. Not only is the court down to one female justice, there are hardly any law clerks without a Y chromosome staffing the increasingly conservative high court. The WSJLB points toward today’s New York Times and a previous story by our Legal Times colleague, Tony Mauro, from May. Also, Dahlia Lithwick picks it up for Slate.

All sorts of people point to a report from the American Bar Association entitled “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms.” The bottom line, it turns out, is not “things are goin’ swell.” The ABA offers the executive summary (.pdf), a press release. and the report itself (.pdf). A few papers talk about it, including The Republican of Western Massachussets and the Associated Press (posted here by a Hawaiian radio station).

Less urgently to most women with bar cards, the U.S. military appears to be experiencing a drain of female hearts and minds — lawyers, chaplains and doctors end their military careers faster than men, according to this article from the American Forces News Service, which is apparently connected to the Air Force. One early fix seems to be a military mommy track.

But before we despair of the American legal profession, consider that things ain’t so bright overseas, either. An Australian newspaper briefly covers inequities in the legal profession, noting that one state government down under is “lowering the bar” for appointing female judges to speed up gender balance.

If the wider view is a little off-putting, let’s close with a flashback to two more upbeat stories: Cal Law’s look a couple weeks ago at how biotech and life-sciences law practices attract women at a higher-than-usual rate, and today’s look at the IP due diligence practice at MoFo, built and driven by two attorneys — one a male senior partner, the other a young woman who’s still working through the associate ranks, but billed a million bucks last year.

Brian McDonough



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