Gender

Women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to upward mobility in their careers. Despite the fact that firms claim to be rectifying these inequities, for every two steps forward the legal industry takes, women seem to be pushed two steps back. Be it smaller salaries or fewer leadership opportunities, women lawyers are usually left holding the bag. It’s almost as if they’ve got to make up for what they lack (dangling genitalia), in all of their dealings.

Women already have a hard enough time as it is without being unfairly subjected to unspoken policies that affect both firm politics and partnership decisions. But, such is life when you’ve thrust yourself into the wonderful world of Biglaw, where the “boys club” reigns supreme, and women are essentially railroaded into the pink ghetto.

How would you like to work for a firm where men hog all of the origination credit, and do their damnedest to exclude women from client pitches? How would you like to work for a firm where women are encouraged to have intimate relationships with firm leaders in order to be promoted?

That doesn’t sound like a friendly working environment, but that’s exactly what a $200 million class action suit against Greenberg Traurig alleges….

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I was not aware that see-through shirts and cleavage was the trademark of a good lawyer in New Zealand. Apparently I have a lot to learn about their judicial system.

– a comment left on Facebook in response to a picture used by LEX magazine to entice people to “like” the New Zealand Law Students Association (NZLSA) page on the social networking site.

(Read on to see the picture that’s being slammed as sexist by women lawyers the world over.)

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Casey Anthony is not impressed.

* Will it be DOMA or Prop 8? The countdown until Friday starts now, because everyone’s waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will grant cert on one of the five same-sex marriage cases that has come before the high court. [UPI]

* Walk like an Egyptian — or, in this case, you can protest like one. Judges and lawyers are on strike and filing legal challenges to President Mohamed Morsi’s “unprecedented attack on judicial independence.” [New York Times]

* Dewey know when this failed firm’s bankruptcy plan will be approved? Team Togut is hoping for a February resolution, but the rascally retirees may throw a wrench in things with their committee’s continued existence. [Am Law Daily]

* Even though the Northern District of California has a historic all-women federal bench — a courthouse of their own, if you will — there’s probably no need to tell them that THERE’S NO CRYING IN LITIGATION. No crying! [The Recorder]

* New technology + old laws = a privacy clusterf**k. This week, a Senate committee will contemplate whether the Electronic Communications Privacy Act needs to be updated to get with the times. [New York Times]

* The New York State Bar Association may oppose it, but Jacoby & Meyers’s challenge to the state’s ban on non-lawyer firm ownership shall live to see another day thanks to the Second Circuit. [New York Law Journal]

* An Alabama Slammer is both a dangerous cocktail and a term for what happens when your Southern law school refuses to cut its class size and you’re left woefully unemployed after graduation. [Birmingham News]

* Casey Anthony finds relevancy again! Girls in my high school used to search for “foolproof suffocation” on Google and later get acquitted of murdering their daughters all the time; it was no big deal. [USA Today]

* Dean Boland, aka Paul Ceglia’s gazillionth lawyer in the Facebook ownership case, will soon find out if can withdraw as counsel. He’s got other things to deal with, like a $300K child porn judgment. [Wall Street Journal]

In light of Ms. X’s epic departure memo highlighting the chaos involved in juggling parenting and Biglaw hours, many women in similar situations have been questioning their own work/life balance. Can women still have it all? And if they can’t, can they at least have a little bit of it? Is that really so much to ask for?

Luckily, and just in the nick of time, Working Mother magazine partnered with Flex-Time Lawyers to release its annual list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. When compiling this list, both organizations strive to include firms that make the legal profession more “family friendly” by offering both flexible hours and reduced schedules, while at the same time ensuring that a respectable percentage of women attain equity partnership.

So which firms made the cut? Interestingly, only two firms from Vault’s top ten list of the most prestigious firms in the country made this year’s list. Let’s find out which ones….

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Julian Davis

A UC Hastings alumnus running for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is having a last-minute campaign meltdown, as he faces allegations of “unwanted physical advances.”

So far, Julian Davis, a recent law school grad, faces two separate allegations — including one from a law school classmate.

Nothing has been proven, and Davis is still in the race. But he’s lost the endorsement of some incumbent city supervisors, as well as the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

So what is Davis accused of? Let’s see…

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‘Why are we all still at these firms?’

For the past seven years, the National Association of Women Lawyers has tracked women’s progress at the 200 largest firms in the nation by comparing their careers and compensation with similarly situated men. And for the past seven years, reading NAWL’s report has been like drinking a fifth of gin, and then watching Requiem For A Dream: it’s really freaking depressing.

For every two steps forward the legal industry takes, female attorneys seem to move two steps back. Despite Biglaw firms’ purported support for gender equity, women just aren’t achieving the same success as their male peers, either economically or in terms of attaining leadership roles. From associates to partners, women are always left holding the bag.

With that backdrop, let’s check out the excruciatingly discouraging news for women in Biglaw….

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Back in 2010, we brought our readers some news on the state of women’s representation on the mastheads of the nation’s law reviews. According to a study conducted by Ms. JD, on the whole, women at the 2009 U.S. News top 50 law schools were doing just fine in terms of overall law review membership and leadership positions. Good news, right?

Ms. JD conducted a similar study for 2011-2012, using the 2011 U.S. News top 50 law schools, and made the following findings:

  • The overall percentage of women who are members of law reviews, 42.75 percent, correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 47.3 percent.
  • The percentage of women in leadership positions on law reviews, 41.53 percent, also correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 47.3 percent.

That’s where the good news ends, because when it came to the position of editor-in-chief, the number of women holding the title in Ms. JD’s first study was “disproportionately low,” at just 33 percent. This year, that percentage was even lower — only 28.6 of the EICs at the nation’s top 50 law schools were women. Keep in mind that these are the women who are expected to go on to become law professors, federal judges, Biglaw partners, and Fortune 500 general counsels.

Why, then, are they being overlooked for the title of editor-in-chief, year after year?

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Perhaps Dechert meant this kind of Macho Man, instead?

* Congrats to Larren Nashelsky for being one bad ass MoFo. He’s taking over as Chair of Morrison & Foerster, and claims the firm’s had “some of [its] best years in recent years.” [San Francisco Business Times]

* Macho, macho man! You’ve got to be, a macho man to work at Dechert. An ex-associate says he was fired for using FMLA time and blames the firm’s “macho culture” in his retaliation complaint. [National Law Journal]

* Sorry, but you make too much damn money. Utah’s Judicial Conduct Commission recommended a judge for censure because his salary was “in excess of the amount allowed by law.” [Standard-Examiner]

* “We’re all reacting to Darwinian pressures in the market and from students.” Maybe that’s why law schools are adding more classes having to do with careers as in-house counsel. [Corporate Counsel]

* Jerry Sandusky has asked Judge John Cleland to reconsider his 30-60 year prison sentence because he thinks it’s excessive. Strange, because some people would argue it wasn’t excessive enough. [Bloomberg]

Mitt Romney’s unfortunate comment at the most recent presidential debate, in which he boasted about receiving “binders full of women” while trying to build a diverse cabinet as Governor or Massachusetts, has become a wildly popular internet meme. If you’re looking for some good laughs, check out this Tumblr or this slideshow.

Happily, there’s a Biglaw connection to all of this. At which leading law firm can you assemble your own “binder full of women”?

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Staci here. Earlier this week, in response to a reader question, Vivia Chen at The Careerist engaged in a discussion about female lawyers who curse like sailors. She noted that she found cursing to be “rather cathartic,” but her takeaway was this: “If four-letter words just roll off your tongue, go for it. And if people have problems with your style, you can tell them where to stick it.”

And while staying true to yourself and unleashing as many f-bombs as you can may be alright in some circumstances (i.e., social settings), in the workplace, it can lead to some rather negative consequences — for both women and men. But that’s really beside the point, because cursing on the job is just plain disgusting, no matter which gender it’s coming from.

I know that I may get my bra-burning card revoked for this, but I think that it’s even more appalling when it’s coming from a woman. Of course, not everyone agrees with me — one of my fellow editors thinks women should be able to drop as many expletives as they want. Before you tell me where to stick it, let me explain…

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