Gender

Ally McBeal female lawyer woman attorney Calista Flockhart.jpgLast week we wrote about an upcoming panel discussion, sponsored by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Women in the Law, that generated some controversy. The panel, entitled “Their Point of View: Tips from the Other Side,” was going to feature “[a] distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field,” who would opine on “the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization, and women’s overall management of their legal work.”
After some negative reactions, including calls for a boycott, the NYSBA revised the panel title and description. We noted this in an update to our post (added on Friday at 6 PM before the holiday weekend, so some of you may have missed it).
The revised panel, according to the NYSBA, will feature both women and men. The new description of the event led Professor Bridget Crawford to rescind her call for a boycott.
But at least two “distinguished gentlemen” will not be participating in the new and improved panel. Details — plus a READER POLL, and highlighted comments from our last post — after the jump.

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Ally McBeal female lawyer woman attorney Calista Flockhart.jpgEd. note: Above the Law is a bit estrogen-deprived this week, with both Kash and Marin on vacation. So your above-signed writer, who is more in touch with his feminine side than Elie, was called up for duty. He apologizes for not being able to do justice to this subject.
UPDATE (6 PM): The New York State Bar Association has changed the title and description of the panel in question. Details after the jump.
Women in the law: you’ve come a long way, babies. Many of you are partners, even managing partners, at top law firms. Some of you are professors, even deans, at leading law schools. One if you is the Solicitrix General; two of you sit on the Supreme Court.
But maybe you still need some advice for navigating the mean, cutthroat, male-dominated world of the legal profession. Ideally these tips should come from, you know…. MEN.
At the upcoming annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association, the Committee on Women in the Law is sponsoring a program called “Weathering Tough Times: Strategic Planning for Your Practice.” It includes this panel:
NYSBA conference panel Their Point of View Tips from the Other Side.jpg
So, how do you think women lawyers reacted to the prospect of enlightenment from a “distinguished panel of gentlemen”?

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Tiger Woods Rachel Uchitel Elin Nordegren.jpgUPDATE (3:07): The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) just held a press conference. FHP announced that Tiger Woods was found “at fault” in his traffic accident, guilty of careless driving. The fine is $164 and four points on his driving record. This ends the Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation.
FHP determined “that there was insufficient evidence to issue a subpoena for any further evidence. There are no claims of domestic violence by any individual.”
Hmm… No evidence, you say? It looks like not talking was in fact the smart thing to do.
* * * * * * * * *
Lawyers, members of the bar, law students, and others with a smattering of legal training: we all have a duty to stand up and defend Tiger Woods’s decision to keep his mouth shut. The mainstream media has this story completely wrong, and it is up to us — those blessed with a basic understanding of criminal jurisprudence — to educate the public about why Tiger is staying silent. We must explain to our mothers and fathers and doormen and bodega owners that Tiger probably has to keep his mouth shut, in order to keep his wife out of jail.
I’ve explained elsewhere that we are looking at a potential domestic violence situation. If some of the reports are true, Elin Nordegren attacked her husband, allegedly threatening him with a golf club.
Now this is the part that laypeople seem to be having difficulty grasping. Just because Tiger is a man doesn’t mean he gets to decide whether or not his wife gets prosecuted for domestic violence. Criminal law doesn’t work that way. If the police find that Elin Nordegren assaulted Tiger, then this process gets taken out of Tiger’s hands. Right now, shutting up is the only thing Tiger can do if he wants to retain a modicum of control over the situation.
Especially in Florida.
More details, after the jump.

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Sullivan Cromwell LLP new logo Sullcrom.jpgIt’s partner promotion season in Biglaw. This year, Sullivan & Cromwell is making five new partners — and four of them are women. Am Law Daily reports:

Firm chairman H. Rodgin Cohen attributes the growth in female partner ranks to policies, such as flex-time and maternity leave, aimed at promoting and retaining greater numbers of women, the NYLJ’s Nate Raymond reports.
“I think hopefully as we have more and more women joining us it will be the new normal,” Cohen said. “We certainly for a long time have been trying to promote more women and more minorities.”

Are diversity policies actually starting to work?
There is even more good news from this round of partner promotions. Three of the five new S&C partners are in corporate. Green shoots? That looks like a mighty bean stalk, Jack.
Female partners, corporate partners, this is all pretty good news for a Thursday.
S&C Promotes Five Associates–Including Four Women–to Partner [Am Law Daily]
Earlier: Can Remote Access Help Firms Make Female Partners?

Female partner bending over backwards.JPGThere are firms that want to make more female partners (and minority partners for that matter), but honestly do not know how to make that happen. Retaining top female associates through a couple of years of around 3,000 billable hours is just difficult, especially if those women want to have a family.
Over on the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones explores the female partner problem facing Clifford Chance:

The issue was the topic of an interesting article this week in the UK’s The Lawyer. The focus of the article was Clifford Chance, which has pledged to increase its percentage of female partners to 30 percent.
As the Lawyer reports, however, “the firm has a long way to go.” Currently, only 15 percent of its partnership is female.

The Lawyer article explains that there is no quick fix to the problem:

“There’s no one thing that will solve the problem,” says Childs. “There’s no quick fix. It’s a long-term goal that we’re very focused on. It’s something that all firms face and there are many ways you can approach it.”
Aggressively pursuing a dramatic increase in female partners is problematic, Childs argues. Firms need to find creative ways to change their cultures and encourage females to strive for partnership.

Give Clifford Chance some credit here. You aren’t going to fix this issue without confronting it head on.
While firms contemplate their cultural impediments to dramatic growth in female partnership , Patricia Gillette — who is a partner at Orrick — sees one simple change that could make eating the hours a little easier for all attorneys.

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Lesbian harassment law firm girl on girl.JPGHere at Above the Law, we’ve reviewed a lot of employment discrimination complaints over the years. But this one is special.

The firm (like it matters):
Maron Marvel Bradley & Anderson.

The plaintiff:
Jennifer Braude.

Why you care:

Do I have your attention? Click after the jump for more details, plus Maron Marvel’s response.

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Breast feeding discrimination.jpgLast month, I roundly criticized a receptionist for peeing on herself. She claimed that her employer wouldn’t allow her to take bathroom breaks. I argued that personal hygiene and basic self respect demanded that she use the bathroom and worry about suing the firm if they actually fired her for it.
A woman in Ohio was in a somewhat analogous situation. She needed additional bathroom breaks so she could go pump breast milk. Evidently her employer objected, but instead of just — I don’t know — leaking in the middle of the office, she took the breaks anyway. She was fired, she sued her company, and an Ohio court held that firing a new mother for taking breaks to pump breast milk wasn’t gender discrimination.
???
True/Slant has the trial court’s decision:

In its verdict in favor of Totes/Isotoner, the trial court found that:
“Allen gave birth over five months prior to her termination from [Isotoner]. Pregnant [women] who give birth and chose not to breastfeed or pump their breasts do not continue to lactate for five months. Thus, Allen’s condition of lactating was not a condition relating to pregnancy but rather a condition related to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination.”

On appeal, the trial court’s decision was upheld. And there were women on the appellate panel. Details after the jump.

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baby lawyer.jpgIf you side with those who think baby-making is a good option these days, you’ll read this post with special interest. The Bulldogs have named the top ten pup-friendly Biglaw firms.
Here are the best firms for the family-minded according to the Yale Law Women:

Arnold & Porter
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Covington & Burling
Jenner & Block
Katten Muchin Rosenman
Mayer Brown
Munger, Tolles & Olson
Patton Boggs
Sidley Austin
WilmerHale

Earlier this month, Working Mother named the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. Covington, Jenner, Katten, Munger, Sidley and WilmerHale have bragging rights for making their way onto both lists.
So what are the stats at these firms that earned them this distinction? Hint: Granting more than three months of maternity leave is a good start.

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Best Law Firms BG.gifWorking Mother magazine has released its annual review of law firms and named the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. No shame on these firms (unlike the one in our caption contest), at least when it comes to “flex-time, reduced-hour and other family-friendly policies”:

[O]ur winning firms have more lawyers working reduced hours (8 percent versus 5 percent nationwide) and also employ more female equity partners, who share in their firm’s profits (20 percent versus 16 percent nationwide)–and that’s just for starters. We salute these firms for recognizing that making the legal profession work for women is good business for everyone.

As pointed out by the ABA Journal:

A bad economy may be hurting law firms, but it’s opening up more flex-time opportunities for male as well as female lawyers.

Only one firm from the top five most prestigious — as ranked by Vault last year — made the cut.

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552646_haircut.jpgBack in March 2008, we named Daniel Hynes our Lawyer of the Day. Hynes was convicted of theft by extortion after trying to shake down at least 19 New Hampshire hair salons by accusing them of gender and age discrimination (in the form of pricing haircuts differently for men, women, and children).
Now, a quick update, from the ABA Journal:

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld the extortion conviction of a lawyer who threatened to sue a Concord hair salon for charging women more money for haircuts than men or children.

Daniel Hynes is identified as a Manchester lawyer and a 2006 graduate of the Western New England College School of Law in a story published by the Concord Monitor in March last year. A jury convicted him of theft by extortion after deliberating for only 1 ½ hours.

One and a half hours? Ouch. And Hynes didn’t fare better on appeal.

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