If you are new to Above the Law, you might not remember Yolanda Young. She’s an African-American woman who used to work as a staff attorney at Covington & Burling. Some time ago, she sued the firm for racial and gender discrimination. You can read all about her claims here.
Regular readers of this site are already thinking: “Wait, didn’t that suit get dismissed?” ATL veterans are working on their obese/race-baiting/marine mammal mad libs as we speak.
But before we get to those fresh horrors, you all should know something: a federal judge has reinstated part of Yolanda Young’s case against Covington…
This was the only full body photo of Shelly Sindland available in all of internet-land.
A year ago, we brought attention to the sexual harassment claims of Shelly Sindland. Sindland was a local television reporter in Connecticut who claimed she was discriminated against by Fox 61 News due to her age and gender. Here are some of the highlights from the complaint:
* On or about January 30, 2009, during a meeting with reporters and anchors, on information and belief, [News Director Bob Rockstroh] stated that the Friday newscasts looked like “Big Boob Fridays,” and that as a result of at least one female reporter wearing a tighter shirts on Fridays, the station’s ratings did well on Fridays. On information and belief, [General Manager Rich Graziano] was present and stated “hey, whatever works.”
* On or about February 25, 2009 the respondent held a photo shoot for several of its news anchors to be used in promotional pieces. During this shoot, on information and belief, the female anchors were told to be more “sexy.” On information and belief, male anchors were not instructed to be sexy.
We’ve seen a lot of sexual harassment suits that either get thrown out quickly, or quickly settle. Since Sindland was suing a news organization, you had to figure that if there was any merit to Sindland’s claims, Fox 61 would pay and make the issue go away.
Yet here we are, over a year later, and Sindland’s claims just keep chugging along…
Quick question: You’re a single guy, let’s say in your late twenties to mid-thirties, with a decent job. Given the choice between the following two single women to date, which one do you choose?
Choice A: A real-world-hot 28-year-old receptionist on her fourth job in three years, who lives with two roommates in a fifth-floor walkup in some outer borough, aspires to someday have a job that gives her either free shoes or health insurance, and only sounds like an idiot when she speaks out loud.
Choice B: A real-world-hot 28-year-old BigLaw lawyer (I know, just go with me here) who paid off her school debt by herself in three years, lives alone in a doorman building in Manhattan, is funny and down-to-earth, and runs a small, successful side business selling artisanal cupcakes that she bakes in her spare time.
Clearly, you choose Choice A. Why? Because, if the status quo in my firm … and in my life… and in my friends’ lives… and in any bar from New York to L.A. is any indication, a law degree confers about as much romantic value to a single woman as a meth habit and a hidden penis.
Today Am Law released an exhaustive report about female equity partners at major law firms — equity partners, not to be confused with non-equity partners (who are really glorified associates that firms slap with the “partner” label in order to look good when folks like BBLP or Jezebel come calling). The numbers aren’t going to surprise any woman who is seriously considering a career in law.
But just because they’re not surprising doesn’t make them any less depressing. From the report:
The data compiled for this first systematic look at the issue is presented below. When we reviewed it, two numbers immediately jumped out. First, women make up only 17 percent of partners at the firms we surveyed, even though they have represented about 51 percent of law school graduates in the last 20 years. Second, of the women partners who work at multi-tier firms, 45 percent have equity status. In comparison, 62 percent of the male partners at these firms have equity.
Retention issue much? At 17 percent, you’re talking about a serious glass ceiling sitting on top of women at major law firms. With spikes pointing downard. And holes so small you can’t possibly fit squeeze through them if you are carrying any extra weight, or a baby….
We apologize again for yesterday’s technical difficulties, but if you thought we weren’t going to weigh in on the Hooters anti-fatty policy you haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention. Yesterday, a Michigan judge ruled that a weight discrimination case brought against Hooters restaurants could go forward.
When the suit was filed, back in May, I sarcastically quipped about fat people being a protected class in Michigan. Apparently, that’s exactly what’s happening. The WSJ Law Blog reports:
According to this story from the Grand Rapids Press, the suit cites Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination by employers based on a number of factors. Height and weight discrimination were added in a 1976 amendment by then-state Rep. Thomas Mathieu.
Mathieu originally introduced the height and weight amendment because he was “flabbergasted” by the number of cases of unfairness involving women seeking office jobs who possessed the necessary skills and personality, but were overweight.
Let’s all take a moment to reflect on the necessary skills and personality needed to be a Hooter’s waitress…
We’ve been doing a series ofposts looking at whether women and minorities are adequately represented on the mastheads of the nation’s law reviews. The subject is definitely a contentious one, and our posts have generated a high number of comments.
Perhaps we should shift our focus to underrepresented minorities (URMs) — sayonara, Asians — since women are actually doing just fine for themselves. And you don’t have to take our word for it. This conclusion comes from a report (PDF) that was just released by Ms. JD, which conducted a study of law reviews at the 2009 U.S. News “Top 50″ law schools for the 2008-2010 academic years. Based on the study, Ms. JD made the following findings:
The overall percentage of women who are members of law reviews, 44.3 percent, correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 45.7 percent.
The percentage of women in leadership positions on law reviews, 46.2 percent, also correlates strongly with the number of women awarded law degrees during the same time period, 45.7 percent.
But there was one area where women remain underrepresented….
This was bound to happen at some point. There have been countless associates who were promised jobs at law firms. They stopped looking for other jobs in reliance on that job offer. Then during the recession they were deferred, or their offers were rescinded. They are the leading citizens of the Lost Generation.
Do they have any legal claims against their would-be employers?
Almost certainly not, but it looks like somebody is ready to try to find out. The ABA Journal reports:
A would-be associate has sued San Francisco law firm Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin for deferring and then rescinding her job offer.
A clean test case on the issue of offer rescission? Not quite. As with most things, there’s a racial angle…
Today’s confirmation of Elena Kagan as the fourth woman ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court is a milestone worth celebrating. For ladies in the law, things are looking up.
But female law students and lawyers still have complaints. Check out a recent query submitted to the Dear Prudence advice column over at Slate, by a correspondent calling herself “Livid but Lost Law Student”:
I am a female law student who is employed for the summer (and potentially for the school year) at a small firm that I’m really enjoying. The law office shares a floor of an office building with a bigger law firm, and my cubicle is “on the border.”
All of the attorneys at both firms are male, but at the other firm, the men are far from politically correct. I have two issues….
Let’s explore this law student’s “issues,” shall we?
There’s a serious gender-based wage gap in the legal profession. Female partners make $66K less than male partners on average. If you’re a female partner who has thought about tackling that gap with a lawsuit, you may be interested in the case of Alyson J. Kirleis.
In the suit, Kirleis accused Dickie McCamey of paying female lawyers less than males and alleged she was told by a male partner that a woman with children should relinquish her partnership and work only part-time.
Kirleis, who has worked at the firm since 1988, also claimed she was told by another male partner that the role of women lawyers was to prepare lawsuits for trials that would be handled by male lawyers. The suit also included allegations that Kirleis has suffered retaliation since her suit was filed, and that Dickie McCamey’s annual Christmas party is effectively closed to women “because of the sexually explicit nature of the entertainment including skits, songs, pornographic materials and props.”
The Legal Intelligencer pointed out that her suit could have broken new legal ground, establishing that “some law firm partners are not equal to their fellow partners and ought to be allowed to pursue employment discrimination claims such as suing for equal pay.”
A couple of days ago, a survey came out showing that the wage gap between male and female partners is still very large. The National Law Journal put it this way:
It’s no secret that women earn less than their male colleagues at law firms. The National Association of Women Lawyers concluded last year that female equity partners make an average $66,000 less a year than male equivalents.
This news was met with a tremendous yawn.
Amazing. We’re living in a world where women who rise to the top of their profession still suffer a ridiculous income gap, and nobody seems to care very much. Even my ATL co-editor Kashmir Hill said: “Women get paid less than men. D’uh.” So much for righteous indignation. The suffragettes must be thrilled…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.