Not In My Lifetime

gender gapA week ago, Law360 published a series of disturbing stories on gender bias in the legal profession. My firm, which made Law360’s top twenty U.S. firms (by size), did not make Law360’s top one hundred firms for women. The top 100 list was based on the number of female partners, non-partners, and total number of female attorneys. My firm has nearly 1000 lawyers, yet it couldn’t manage to make the top 100 list for number of women lawyers at the firm. Many smaller firms made the list. When I pointed out this black eye in an email to the (male) partner for whom I’ve been working for the past ten years, I got no response.

Ironically, I had attended a firm meeting with that same partner just the week before that included the theme: “Rah Rah Rah, Diversity, Yay, We’re So Awesome, Women Lawyers, Rah Rah Rah!”

Even more disturbing than my firm not making the top 100 list, was Law360’s 2015 Glass Ceiling Report. The lead, which you can read without a subscription, states:

Women continue to be dramatically underrepresented at every attorney level in the U.S. legal industry, and firms made negligible progress toward gender equality in 2014, according to a Law360 head count survey of more than 300 U.S. firms.

The report goes on to state that men make up almost 80 percent of partners at U.S. law firms, and two-thirds of total lawyers. It gets worse from there: women make up just slightly over 17 percent of equity partners—those who get to share the loot. (Non-equity partners don’t participate in divvying up the big pot of money brought in by the pyramid beneath them, but often get to vote on management issues; just not on financial issues.) So, 20 percent of partners are women, 80 percent are men; 17 percent equity partners are women, 83 percent are men. At my firm, although transparency is an issue, I think it’s a safe bet that less than 5 percent of equity partners are women; the other likely 95 percent is composed of (mostly white) men.

The good news is, according to Law360, the number of female lawyers in firms has risen since the prior year. The bad news is, the increase in the number of women in each category (non-partner, partner, equity partner) was less than 1 percent.

In Law360’s final story of the day, Law Firm Biases Continue to Thwart Women, we learned that at the current rate, women will not make up 50 percent of U.S. law firm partners until the year 2072. That’s 57 years from now, folks. Seeing as I’m 51 now, most assuredly, I’ll be dead.


  • While it does take time for enough women to gain experience necessary, get noted by those above them, and move into the upper levels of firms/companies – there’s a whole lot of closing male ranks to keep the club exclusive (so they can feel comfortable/burb/scratch/ and all laugh at the same stupid boy stuff) and a whole lot of predators and men perfectly willing to let a woman work herself to death/sacrifice their entire life to come up with stellar results that are handed over to a male boss who promises (snicker snicker) to let everyone know who did the leg work and will gladly share the accolades. Right.
    Sadly sometime women who have made it up are reluctant to see another woman making progress.
    Inch by inch change happens. But the cost to those in the fight? Sometimes if playing the game isn’t working, you have to change games. Follow your gut. Build your own life – don’t let others construct it for you.
    YEA YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually had a male partner at a firm I worked at in Houston (first job out of law school) take my hours and bill them out under his name. Not only did it look like I’d done no work, but he charged a higher rate, and so the client was defrauded. He was eventually asked to leave the firm, for that and other transgressions. I was eventually driven out, for being a troublemaker, a whistleblower. Sadly, I was too intimidated to do anything about it. I worried it would be a black eye on my career, and so I said nothing and moved on.

      I had a discussion this week with the partner for whom I work about gender bias. He admitted men are uncomfortable working with/for women. It brings up all their issues around women. I said, “You mean mommy issues?” He’s 61. I don’t know if it’s any different with younger men.

      At this point, my goal is to build my own life outside the practice of law. A few more years, and I’m outta here!


    • Sell beaded ankle bracelets on the beach? I read a lot of early retirement blogs. People seem to start off with a list of things they’re interested in, and the picture evolves the more days they wake up without having to report to a soul-sucking job. The first thing I want to do is clear my head of the legal cobwebs. After that, the world will be my oyster.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is wrong and unfair. Some women start their own firms. Often, they are relegated to certain practice areas, like family law. At 51, I’m fed up with all of it and not interested in going out on my own.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Actually, I was on the fence about “liking” this post. It’s so familiar to me, The Original Good Ole Boys’ Club…I know what you’ve been through and what you’ll continue to go through. All the more reason to leave, though I know it’s easier said than done. Though in this case I know it doesn’t make you feel better, it’s the same everywhere, same here in my company. Over 12,000 strong worldwide, and women are a woeful minority. There is a huge disparity in pay as well. I suppose all the attention this has been getting this year is a step in the right direction, but I’m with you…perhaps the world will be a better place for my daughter, but not necessarily in my lifetime.

    Keep fighting the good fight! The Suffragette still exists in us!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, don’t even get me started on the pay disparity. It’s ridiculous. It’s not just in the law, as you say. It’s everywhere. Part of the trouble is, we’re all conditioned. Men, as well as women. We accept this bullshit without question. Since I’m feeling a bit more comfortable these days financially, I’ve been making noise. I don’t know if it will get me anywhere, but it feels good to have the moxie to open my mouth and call them on it. I was in a meeting this week with a client on a new case. It was me and two male partners meeting with the client representatives: a female general counsel, female assistant general counsel, female in-house paralegal. My partner kept saying, “Todd and I will blah blah blah.” I’m sitting to the right of him, Todd to the left, and he kept saying “Todd and I” like I was a potted plant. After the meeting, the first thing I said to him in the car on the way out of town was, “You need to be careful how you speak when you’re in a meeting with female clients. Saying ‘Todd and I’ over and over was met with a few eye glances my way.” He said, “Point taken.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I don’t think things will change until clients start demanding more diversity. If BigLaw anchor client takes its business away, and tells BigLaw they can talk in the future when they’ve straightened out their gender (race, etc.) disparity, BigLaw will straighten their asses out forthwith. I think pressure is going to have to come from the outside, before any meaningful change is made. Which means women (and men) demanding better from the people/companies/law firms they partner with, be it customers, service providers, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  • As an out gay man, I’ve experienced similar. And it’s all bullshit. And the sad thing? These straight, white men of privilege often don’t have a clue that they are acting in a discriminatory manner. They are completely self-deluded, which means one has to fight two battles: make them aware of what they’re doing (no small thing in and of itself); and then get them to change. Ugh!!!

    I feel for you.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we wonder if it isn’t too much to ask that we all judge each other on the true merits, and not on some incorrect, preconceived notions that are outdated anyway.


    • You are exactly right, Kim. Often the “old” white men are unaware. I’m so worn out from calling them out, trying to hit the right notes when doing so (they’re so damn defensive), and seeing the same thing happen over and over. And all the while, they’re patting themselves on the back for being champions of diversity. They’re awfully proud of those small percentages (women, LGBTQ, race/ethnicity). I give up. I’m now just stashing the money away until I’m ready to make my exit.

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