Gender

“I have the p*ssy, so I make the rules.”

A t-shirt that resulted in a contempt-of-court charge in Chicago.

Now that President Obama has interviewed the four finalists for the U.S. Supreme Court seat he has to fill — Judge Merrick Garland (D.C. Cir.), Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Judge Sidney Thomas (9th Cir.), and Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir) — the nominee could be announced any day now. Who will it be?

We realize that the betting men (and women) favor Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Kagan is also the pick of Tom Goldstein, the veteran Supreme Court litigator and founder of SCOTUSblog, who correctly forecast the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor (a nomination that the White House sought his counsel on).

But we’re going to go out on a limb and make a crazy prediction: President Obama is going to nominate Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit, to the Supreme Court. He’ll announce the nomination on Monday, May 10 — the Monday after Mother’s Day. (That’s significant, for reasons we’ll get to later.)

Right out of the starting gate, immediately after Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, Solicitor General Elena Kagan emerged as the frontrunner for his seat. And Kagan is still widely regarded as the leading candidate.

But, in the past week and a half or so, we’ve felt a slight, almost imperceptible shift in the wind, in favor of Judge Wood….

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Ten reasons Obama might appoint Diane Wood.

For the past five years, Yale Law School has produced a list of the top “family friendly” law firms. And for the past five years, men have acted like “family” issues are something only women need to worry about.

Maybe that’s true if you are a committed bachelor who never intends to procreate or know the love of a real woman. Maybe that’s true if you subscribe to some kind of 1950′s television ideal where the man works and the woman is exclusively a stay-at-home mom. Mind the pool boy, fellas.

But the majority of men will one day marry and spawn. In many cases, they’ll marry a woman of equal career ambitions. At that point, being able to take some paternity leave might be very important. Maybe their wife won’t even be a lawyer, and thus make more money than her husband (have you seen what legal salaries are like these days). Most likely we will see more and more male primary care givers, and the firms will have to adjust. We’ve heard a lot about the “mommy track,” in our professional lifetimes one expects the “daddy track” to become just as important.

So which firms are already ahead of the family friendly curve?

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The American Bar Association is currently holding its Women in Law Leadership Academy in Philadelphia; prior to the conference, they surveyed female partners in regional and international firms. Harder for women than figuring out what they’re allowed to wear is becoming a partner. (Though there are signs that’s changing.)

Apparently, female lawyers must go elsewhere to be appreciated. Forbes summarizes:

According to the study, the majority of women who had made partner had to attain the position by making a lateral jump to another firm–few were promoted from within.

Once you make partner, it’s hard to stay one. Almost eight percent of the 700 female partners surveyed reported being de-equitized. How come?

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Last fall, we gave props to Sullivan & Cromwell for making a high number of women partners — four out of five, or 80 percent. If you consider only U.S.-based partners, S&C had a new partner class that was 100 percent female. (Tax partner Eric Wang is based in London.)

As it turns out, Sullivan & Cromwell wasn’t alone in having a majority-female partner class for 2010. From the Project for Attorney Retention (PDF):

The economy may be looking up, at least for the women lawyers in the 2010 new partner classes. According to a survey released today by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR), law firms made significant advances in retaining and promoting their women lawyers: 23 firms made new partner classes that were 50% or more female, and 34% of the new partners are female, compared to 28% of the new partners in 2009.

Not all of the news was good, however: 14 firms had all-male classes.

Let’s name names, shall we?

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It’s funny how being laid off really puts all of your workplace problems into perspective. The Wall Street Journal reports that more and more men are claiming they are victims of sexual harassment:

Since the start of the recession, a growing number of sexual harassment complaints have come from men. Some 16.4% of all sexual harassment claims—or 2,094 claims—were filed by men in fiscal 2009, up from 15.4%, or 1,869 claims, in fiscal 2006, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

While male victims sometimes experience behavior like groping and unwanted sexual advances, employment lawyers say increasingly “locker room” type behavior like vulgar talk and horseplay with sexual connotations have been the subject of claims.

Has there been an outbreak of office grab-ass that I’m not aware of? Not quite. Instead, there has been an outbreak of men losing their jobs …

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kathleen kathy sullivan quinn emanuel urquhart sullivan.jpgThe elevation of Kathleen Sullivan to name partner at Quinn Emanuel symbolized some serious change in the world of Biglaw. Diversity in the partnership ranks is growing. Sullivan is likely Biglaw’s first openly LGBT name partner, and she appears to be the first female to get her name on the door at an AmLaw 100 firm.

We raised the gender milestone question last week, asking our readers if they knew of any that came before her.
We think it is now fair to award her this distinction in Biglaw lore. After all, the next day, the American Lawyer declared it definitively: Quinn Emanuel Becomes First Am Law 100 Firm to Have a Female Name Partner.

But our readers did raise the names of some other notable females who deserve asterisks next to their names in the legal history books…

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Lipstick.JPGYesterday, Elie got his panties in a bunch about the New York City Bar event: Dressing for Success: Fashion Sense for the Workplace. The event — aimed at women — was to be led by Eve Pearl, a “celebrity makeup artist and fashion consultant” who would talk about “how to project a professional image.”
Elie quoted tipsters offended by the City Bar offering women “charm school lessons.” He was especially offended by the fact that Pearl would not be offering any foundation application tips to men:

Why market a “fashion sense talk” to women, while ignoring men? Why just assume that women, professional women, need be more concerned about their appearance than their male counterparts? We all know why. It’s because there is a huge double standard when it comes to the appearance expectations on women as opposed to men.

The jihad on fashion for women was successful. The City Bar told us today that they’re canceling the event. But since I’m not as much of a feminist as Elie, I’m disappointed by the news.

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Lipstick.JPGWith the potentially groundbreaking elevation of Kathleen Sullivan this morning, and the oh-so-tasteful prostitution and stripper jokes in Non-Sequiturs, it’s kind of been a female-focused day here at ATL.
It’s been a good day for gender equality, but let’s not forget that progress can be an incremental proposition. The City Bar of New York is putting on a little event for the ladies and — well — why don’t you be the judge?

Dressing for Success: Fashion Sense for the Workplace
Join us for a night that no professional woman should miss. Eve Pearl, five-time Emmy Award winning celebrity makeup artist, fashion consultant, author, and national TV personality will discuss how to project a professional image. From determining what is appropriate and suitable for the workplace, including business casual attire, hair and make-up, to demonstrating proper make-up techniques, you can begin utilizing what you learn the next day.
The program will be followed by a networking reception where beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Whether you are just starting out in your career, or have been perfecting your look for decades, this will be a fun and informative evening.

UPDATE: The event has been canceled. Kash laments its demise here.
At least there is a woman giving the advice. Maybe the City Bar learned something from the New York State Bar association about condescending panels of men giving advice to women.
Still, given the subject manner, what could possibly go wrong?

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NALP logo.JPGAbout a week ago, K&L Gates’s Peter Kalis called for the abolition of NALP. Kalis was focused on NALP’s well-documented problems trying to guide the recruitment of fresh talent to Biglaw. Kalis isn’t alone in thinking that NALP does an ineffective job setting out legal recruitment guidelines.
But if the organization can’t even be trusted to accurately report statistics, then maybe we really do need to examine what value NALP is adding to the process. There has been a movement, led by various groups of women lawyers, to get NALP to acknowledge the difference between equity partner and non-equity partner when reporting diversity stats. The distinction is important for women and minority groups trying to asses whether or not firms are doing a good job at promoting women and minorities to partner. You know, actual partners — not the non-equity “partners” who don’t get a share in the firm’s profits (and thus don’t affect profit per partner numbers as reported to Am Law).
The importance of becoming an actual partner as opposed to a non-equity employee should be obvious, but I’ll let Ms. J.D. explain:

Thanks in part to the efforts of groups like NAWJ, NAWL and MCCA, surveying and ranking organizations like Vault and AmLaw have learned to distinguish between equity and non-equity partners when collecting data from firms on stats like profits-per-partner and diversity. As you can imagine firms have an incentive to decrease the number of people they describe as partners when reporting profit-per-partner numbers and increase it to include more women or racial minorities when reporting diversity numbers. Firms care about the resulting rankings. We need to keep these firms honest to leverage the rankings as an additional force for increased diversity in firms.

It seems like the organization charged with collecting partnership data from law firms should be most sensitive to this distinction. But apparently NALP has decided that it will continue to ignore the distinction between equity and non-equity partners.
What’s the rationale for NALP’s position?

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