Sunday, October 29, 2006


Where Are Women in Law Firms?

A new report from NAWL provides a good snapshot of where women are now in the legal profession. The report is available here, and the press relase here.

NAWL sent a survey to the 200 largest law firms in the U.S., and 103 responded. Based on those survey responses, NAWL reports that about half of associates are women, and women make up 28% of "of counsel," 26% of non-equity partners, 16% of equity partners, and 5% of managing partners.

To my knowledge, NAWL is the first group to study the number of women at the "of counsel" and non-equity partner levels. I find both of these numbers to be depressingly low (which isn't to say that I don't find the numbers of female equity partners and managing partners depressing, only that I expected the numbers to be considerably higher).

NAWL intends to update its data annually, which will allow us to see if the large firms are making any real progress in the areas of retaining and recruiting women. Given the astonishingly high attrition rate among associates today (78% by the end of their 5th year, according to NALP), I don't expect to see huge gains unless firms become more insightful and more proactive about keeping and advancing women.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


New Report: "Opt Out" or Pushed Out?

Many women doubt there is an "opt out revolution", and a new report posted on PAR's website proves their doubt is well-founded. The report, "Opt Out" or Pushed Out?: How the Press Covers Work/Family Conflict" shows that press reports of women choosing to stay home have made sweeping generalizations about female workers from very limited examples of women who are not representative of female workers as a whole. Equally importantly, the report presents hard evidence that women who leave the workforce for childcare reasons are more often pushed out of their jobs by inflexible schedules and inflexible workplaces.

The report is by Joan Williams, Jessica Manvell and Stephanie Bornstein of the Center for WorkLife Law. (PAR is an intiative of WorkLife Law.)

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