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….
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….
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?
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”?
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…
Back in July, we brought you a story about women’s hairstyles and how they relate to success in the workplace. For older women, the results were startling; apparently women who are of partnership age are “playing havoc with their careers” if they opt to sport longer hairstyles. We wondered why people even cared about this issue, because to be quite honest, if you’re good at your job, then your hairstyle — so long as it’s acceptable for an office environment — shouldn’t matter.
Just a few months later, we’re being told that hairstyles do have a bit of unfair relevance in the business world. Whereas older women are being encouraged to lop off their long locks, men are being encouraged to shave their heads bald. It seems that new motto when it comes to your hair is the shorter the better. Listen up, senior associates and partners, because according to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, baldness can result in a business advantage.
But why can’t men be successful and show signs of their age at the same time?
* If your fraternity has to hire a lawyer to hold a press conference to deny allegations of butt-chugging, and an extraordinarily uncomfortable video of the press conference makes its way online… you’re probably up s**t’s creek without a wine bottle paddle. [Outkick the Coverage]
* There’s no crying in baseball, and, in other creepily homoerotic collegiate news, there shall be no drunken teabagging in college football, either. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
* Chief Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, the judicial diva herself, will be stepping down from her role at the head of the bench earlier than expected, due to “family issues.” Perhaps she told someone to “shut up” too many times? [Tex Parte Blog]
* Apple asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to deny Samsung’s request that she bar all further communication with trial jurors, because the company claims it wants “equal access to information” (aka jury foreman Velvin Hogan). [Bloomberg]
* “[T]here’s no way to preserve the definition of marriage [as one man and one woman] other than by preserving the definition. It becomes somewhat circular.” That, and you rely on law from 1885. Argh! [BuzzFeed]
* ASU Law wants to move from Tempe to Phoenix, and to make it financially feasible, the school may increase enrollment and raise tuition. Sound like a good idea, prospective law students cash cows? [Arizona Republic]
* Now compare/contrast: Stanford Law had to dip into its coffers to come up with the cash to cover its financial aid promises this year, but the school isn’t cutting out a dime that’s owed to students. [National Law Journal]
* Massachusetts appealed the Michelle Kosilek sex-change ruling. The state claims it provided “adequate medical care,” but it’s questionable whether that was the case if the prisoner tried to castrate herself. [CNN]
* Tully Rinckey, a midsize firm, is planning to open an office in Buffalo, New York, so it sent out recruitment letters to 5,469 attorneys in the region. Unemployed law grads: open the letter, it’s not a bill! [Buffalo News]
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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