Since we published, the story has gone everywhere. The Huffington Post weighed in, and so did the New York Times. I’m glad so many people are finding out that working at one of the top law firms in the world is really difficult. Welcome to our world — they’re not paying people $160,000 and up to work from 9 to 5.
But one disturbing trend in the coverage of this story is the move to blame the husband. Ms. X’s husband only appears once in her tick-tock:
7:45pm: Negotiate with husband over who will do bathtime and bedtime routine; lose
That line has led to rampant speculation about the deadbeat loser Ms. X must be married to. Vivia Chen of The Careerist had one of the more restrained slams on this guy: “Not to be presumptuous, but I think we should all chip in for some negotiation courses for this poor woman. I realize we don’t have all the facts, but her husband seems to be getting away with murder.”
Well, you know what? I’ve been a Biglaw associate, and a Biglaw spouse, and let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks. Just because a lady “loses” the negotiations on domestic chores doesn’t mean that she’s married to a sexist pig, and it doesn’t mean the guy is “getting away with murder”….
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 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?
When we speak about work/life balance here in these pages, we don’t tend to talk much about sex. The more important things always seem to come to the forefront of the conversation — things like endless days, sleepless nights, and soul-crushing stress. When that’s what lawyers in Biglaw firms are grappling with on a daily basis, is it really any wonder that no one gives pause to talk about sex (or a general lack thereof)?
Now, we know that lawyers aren’t completely asexual, but perhaps there just isn’t a place to speak about what seems to be a rather impolite topic. So let’s plunge in and assess the situation, complete with a reader poll about whether your jobs are killing your sex lives.
In the wise words of Salt-N-Pepa, let’s talk about sex, baby….
* And Professor Josh Blackman has some ideas about the identity of the conservative professor discussed in the controversial emails. [Josh Blackman's Blog]
* Villanova hired ESPN’s Andrew Brandt to be the director of the school’s Center for Sports Law. Students would probably be more excited if this meant ESPN was interested in hiring them. [SB Nation Philly]
* Sumner Redstone of Viacom just donated $18 million to Boston University Law. Quick, Boston College, hurry up and find an old rich guy to make a multi-million dollar donation to your school! [Hollywood Reporter]
* Reality TV hottie Reichen Lehmkuhl, perhaps better known for being Lance Bass’s ex-boyfriend, reports that he’s going to law school. He should be required to attend class without his shirt on. [Instinct Magazine]
Lately, it seems that all of the regular legal media outlets have turned an eye toward women and their success in the profession. For example, earlier this week, we discussed whether women will ever be able to close the gender gap in Biglaw equity partnership ranks. Now, we’re faced with another “important” question: can older career women sport longer hairstyles?
According to some, such a look isn’t considered age-appropriate for the office. In fact, you could end up looking “rather sad and dated,” which may have an impact on your legal career. But then again, the National Law Journal’s survey on women who make partner didn’t include a question about the length of partnership candidates’ hair. Because at the end of the day, who cares? If a woman is great at her job, then the length of her hair shouldn’t matter.
Why can’t older women be successful and feminine at the same time?
Major law firms like to tout their dedication to furthering women’s success in the law, but if you look more closely, you’ll find that many Biglaw firm talk a big game, but have little proof back up their words. Take, for example, the fact that according to a recent survey conducted by the National Law Journal, the percentage of women lawyers in partnership positions has increased only 2.8 percent since 2003. In the meantime, the National Association of Women Lawyers says that the percentage of women in equity partnership positions has been “fixed” at just 15 percent for the past 20 years.
Well, whoop-dee-doo at all of these wonderful statistics that we’ve been choking down for the past decade. Women are apparently supposed to be happy about this kind of painfully slow progress. But what about the firms that have actually honored their commitments to women lawyers?
Or at least that’s what one Biglaw firm seems to think.
Over the weekend, lady lawyers got a serious case of the vapors when word got out that a firm that’s had its fair share of bad press was busy promoting a cooking class for one of its women’s initiatives programs.
Yes, a cooking class — because nothing says “I’m a successful attorney” quite like the ability to serve masterfully prepared hors d’oeuvres (bonus points if the cooking is done while barefoot and/or pregnant).
It’s almost enough to make these women wish they were Lathamed….
It’s getting hard to keep track of all the partner departures from Dewey & LeBoeuf. Thankfully, over at Am Law Daily, Sara Randazzo and Nate Raymond have this handy round-up. The bottom line is that the firm has 53 fewer partners than it did in January: one retired, one left for personal reasons, one went in-house, and fifty (50!) jumped over to rival law firms. You can review the biggest beneficiaries of Dewey defections over here.
So what Dewey do about the problem of fleeing partners? We get medieval on the cowards….
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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