In anticipation of a white paper on the persistent question of why there isn’t greater gender diversity in the practice of law, here’s a look at a few of the salient points:

  • Women have comprised roughly half of law graduates for a number of decades, and have been consistently over-represented at the top of their

In our 2013 entry “The Law: What’s Love Got To Do With It?“, we noted the movement toward integrative law, which  “Pauline Tesler, director of the Integrative Law Institute, believes… is the next ‘huge wave coming to the legal profession.’ As she explains, this type of practice is aimed at ‘out-of-court solutions and

There’s been some good news in the women-in-law category over the last few years. For years, women hovered in the range of 15%-18% of partners in most law firms. Both Debevoise and Cravath have been leaders in changing that–with women comprising a solid 50% average of both firms’ new partners over a five-year period.  The 

World Mental Health Day was Friday, October 10th.  How did yours go?

Did your firm or department remind you not to work such long hours that you lose your critical thinking edge or alienate the personal ties that keep you grounded and productive?  Did you get a refresher on how to deal with stress and

On February 21-22 of this year, the Boyd School of Law and Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas held a very interesting conference on Psychology and Lawyering.  Attendance and enthusiasm were high and organizers anticipate future conferences well-fueled with the expanding research on these related areas.

Here are

Muir spoke at the Center for Legal Inclusiveness Summit  in Denver, Colorado on Monday, May 12, a well-run event drawing people from all directions, despite a spring snowstorm.  Muir’s topic was “Achieving the Advantages of Diversity in Personal Style,” a review of the narrow personal style profile that prevails in many legal organizations, the hazards

Mindful of Rev. King’s exhortation to leaven power with love, remember the Doonesbury character Woodrow proclaiming “By God, I love the law!”  Well, there’s a perspective afoot in the legal industry that may take that sentiment and turn it on its head.  It sounds something like “the law is all about love!”

According to an

A series of articles in the Wall Street Journal last week discussed the trend in corporate America toward using analysis of data obtained through personality and other questionnaires from employees to guide better long-term hiring. The information obtained from employees coupled with their work histories gives employers, particularly of large workforces with potentially large turnover rates, a better predictive

Muir’s entry "What Do Women Want? Challenging the Diversity Myth" was republished in June’s Law Practice Today, the monthly webzine of the ABA Law Practice Management Section. The article will also be used in the workshop at the ABA meeting this July, entitled "LPM Diversity and Inclusion Workshop: The New Look of Law Practice Management."

At first glance, you as a woman lawyer might be tempted to pull up stakes and take yourself to Paris: according to a report by the Paris Bar, after rapid increases in the number of female law graduates there over the last few years, the number of registered women lawyers now outstrips the men, the women start practicing at a slightly younger average age than men, and one large Parisian firm, Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés, boasts female partners comprising 40.6% of the partnership. 

Mon Dieu!  That’s pretty hefty compared to the average US law firm, where only @ 16% of partners are female.

The less-than-good news is that approximately 15% of women lawyers in Paris are partners, while 36% of male lawyers are, with larger firms having proportionally fewer female partners than small ones. Parisian Big Law Gide Loyrette Nouel (at 10%), Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier (at 9%) and Veil Jourde (at 6%) all have fewer female partners than the average, according to The Lawyer’s European 100 Survey.

Women lawyers in Paris also receive lower pay than men. The average income for female lawyers in 2011 was €57,818 compared to an average of €96,536 for men, which the study noted can be partially accounted for by the fact that male lawyers are collectively older, more female lawyers are associates and they also tend to work in less lucrative practice areas. Nonetheless, the Parisians determined these explanations to be "insufficient,” with the resulting plight of women lawyers a disgrace to the profession. Paris law firms were asked to sign a resolution encouraging working arrangements that would allow women lawyers to make more progress in law.

Conducted by the Paris Bar Association, whose recently-elected president, Christiane Féral-Schuhl, is only the second female president in its 800-year history, this study was released just in time for a conference in Paris March 8 celebrating the 101st International Women’s Day.  

The United States first held a national Woman’s Day in 1909. After an initial International Women’s conference was held in 1910, an official International Women’s Day was established in 1911 at which rights to suffrage and discrimination in the workplace were discussed. The day is now recognized by over a 100 countries.

International Women’s Day is just one of the ongoing attempts worldwide to draw attention to the inequality of women in the workplace–the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of parliaments established in 1889, has set the minimum benchmark to ensure a critical mass of female parliamentarians at 30%–the world average is 19.5%. In 1979 the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was passed.

There have been many women in history who wielded enormous power. Deborah from the Book of Judges led her people to victory over the Canaanites. Theodora, Empress of Byzantium in the sixth century, was arguably more influential than her husband, Justinian. Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh in Egypt 50 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, and women continued to hold positions of authority through the millennia. At the close of the 19th century, Empress Cixi of China was said to be more powerful than her contemporary Queen Victoria.  Then there were the Iron Women Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher.

Today there are 18 countries with women leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina, President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, President Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica, Prime Minister Julia Gil-lard in Australia, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Denmark, President Pratibha Patil in India, Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra in Thailand. Women also head the government in Liberia, Iceland, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Mali, Slovakia, Lithuania, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Heading a government is not the only avenue to power and influence. Three percent of the US’s Fortune 500 companies are headed by a woman and the most powerful woman in Europe is arguably former Baker & McKenzie managing partner and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, a French woman who was honored at last week’s International Women’s Day conference n Paris and spoke on the same day at the Women in the World Summit in New York City. 

In New York, Lagarde noted that “the degree of risk taking among women is significantly lower” than among men. She suggested that in the corporate world “that balance that is provided by sensible women should be compensated and should be valued,” not just the macho male gambling, which may or may not pay off for investors.“[I]f Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters … we would not have had the degree of tragedy that we had as a result of what happened.”

Bottom line? The news from Paris appears to be encouraging, and yet their female lawyers, as those elsewhere in the world and women generally, have a ways to go before they arrive at that level playing field.

What was it that Sextus Empiricus said back in the third century? "The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine." 

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