Women’s Issues

Sarah Jones

* Judges with daughters are seven percent more likely to support women’s rights than judges with only sons. Alas, Justices Scalia and Alito are impervious to human emotion. [New York Times]

* If you thought Supreme Court justices were “profoundly divided” over issues of law, wait until you see how they differ over the pronunciation of the word “certiorari.” [National Law Journal]

* This year’s summer associate programs sound pretty lame compared to the past: “The emphasis is certainly more on the work than it is on the social events.” All work and no play makes Jack an employed boy at graduation. [Boston Business Journal]

* “I saved the internet today. Your freedom continues.” Fair assessment. Sarah Jones’s win in her defamation case against Nik Richie and TheDirty.com was overturned by the Sixth Circuit. [Courier-Journal]

* If you’re choosing to go against the president’s wishes and apply to law school, here’s how you can leverage your major on all of your applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* This cowgirl is putting aside her rodeo accomplishments to go to law school. At least she’ll have the experience needed to ride the bucking bronco of the post-recession job market. [Casper Star-Tribune]

‘Out of balance’ is a type of balance, when you think about it.

ATL reader opinion was sharply divided over that recent law firm partner “Hang in There Baby/This Too Shall Pass” email. You’ll recall that the partner was seeking to reassure her younger colleagues who face the challenge of balancing the demands of the Biglaw grind against those of motherhood. Her message: eventually things will be better.

Only a few years ago, when the author was a new mother, she found herself “in the fetal position (ed. note: see what she did there?) on the kitchen floor so completely spent that honest to God I did know how I could get through another day.” Things improved; now the partner can promise her younger counterparts that “one day in the future,” when the kids1 can talk and brush their own teeth, “you will bake a pie and wear clean pants.” In between all-nighters prepping for trial, of course. While some found solace in this message, others found it to be cold comfort at best.

Let’s put aside whether one thinks the partner’s advice is uplifting or risible. For the sake of argument, if the legal profession — specifically law firms — is truly trying to foster the advancement of women attorneys, we can all stipulate that the effort is thus far a failure. What is going on when a fit of despair on the kitchen floor is such a “relatable” thing?

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Could this really happen at a law firm pool party?

It’s early June, and most summer associate programs are now in full swing. Sure, these Biglaw indoctrination programs have been pared down significantly since the days of yore, but law students are still having a great time gunning hard for offers. Staying at the office until 5:30 on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend was simply awesome. Everyone’s having so much fun!

Unfortunately, lurking in the dark underbelly of large law firms everywhere, a terrifying event lies in wait for these overly cheerful summer associates. Over the frustrated sighs of attorneys nationwide, news has spread that a pool party or beach outing has been scheduled. Sheer dread quickly spreads among the summer associates, and their pale skin from years spent studying blanches a shade whiter, as if such a thing were possible.

Dear God, what the hell should these people wear? Should they wear — gasp! — bathing suits?

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Attorney Marilyn York

No doubt divorce can be a messy game. Hurt feelings, name-calling, emotional tug-of-war on impressionable children, and a pitched battle for financial security are all par for the course. Divorce attorneys are thus often the most combative of the already combative breed of lawyers. It’s how you end up with lawyers telling the other side that they plan to anally rape them.

But usually divorce attorneys steep their public persona in platitudes about “fighting for you,” saving the nasty “anal rape” stuff for behind closed doors.

But this attorney has a different approach, putting out a TV commercial that riffs on every awful stereotype of women ever, to appeal to the jilted husbands of the world….

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Law school’s tombstone?

* Federal judges still have financial allegiances to their former firms that are reported on their mandatory annual disclosures. At least one appellate judge — Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit — made a killing after confirmation. [National Law Journal]

* After “a challenging 2013,” Bingham McCutchen is leaking lawyers like a sieve. Fourteen attorneys, including nine partners, recently decided to leave the firm, and they’re all headed to different Biglaw locales. [WSJ Law Blog via Reuters]

* Just one day after Donald Sterling was declared “mentally incapacitated,” he filed a lawsuit against the NBA, seeking more than $1 billion in damages. Skadden lawyers are stripping off their warm-up suits to take it to the court. [USA Today]

* This Am Law 200 firm thinks it figured out a way to help women combine their careers and home lives — by hiring a role model/mentor with an almost six-figure salary. Good idea or bad? [Dallas Morning News]

* We’ve got some breaking news for our readers from the “no sh*t” department: Law schools are competing to cut costs based on a shrinking applicant pool, but tuition is still quite unaffordable. [Houston Chronicle]

* Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and alumnus of Dickinson Law, RIP. [Onward State]

* “[T]hree names are unnecessary, and over time I think you’ll see Squire Patton start to take hold.” Sanders got the boot in this law firm merger, and it won’t be long before Boggs follows. [Am Law Daily]

* The “great female brain drain” at Am Law 200 firms isn’t slowing down, and it will only get better if Biglaw firms concentrate less on their failed “fix the women” approaches. [Harvard Business Review]

* Mary Jo White of the SEC promised to dust off an often ignored — but “potentially [] very powerful” — section of securities law to pursue financial violations. Be wary of the “innocent instrumentality” doctrine, defense attorneys. [DealBook / New York Times]

* We’ve got some breaking news for our readers from the “no sh*t” department: Law school graduates are still having a very tough time getting jobs as lawyers, and there is no real end in sight. [Sacramento Bee]

* If you’re looking for a way to explain a switch in your undergrad major when applying to law school, show admissions committees how pretty your grades are now. Tada! [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Ladies, you’re very busy. Billable hours come first, and you have no social life to speak of. If only there were a service that would allow you to rent some male companionship for less than your hourly rate.

Don’t worry, because one of your former colleagues out in the trenches has got your back. She started a business to bring lonely women “handsome, smart, and talented men on demand” — it’s like Seamless, but with a penis.

Who is this wonderful woman and which Biglaw firm does she hail from?

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‘Have spent all day fending Edna off my graphite shaft.’

We already knew that Biglaw firms aren’t exactly the most friendly places for women. We already knew that some male lawyers are still quite miffed that women invaded their good old boys’ clubs. What we didn’t know was that some Biglaw firms would go so far as to essentially sign off on their partners’ extremely sexist views.

Which firm recently found out that one of its partners was involved in a sexist email scandal, and is doing absolutely nothing about it?

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UPDATE (5/17/2014, 6:00 p.m.): This piece proceeds on the premise that “Lisbeth” (the woman on whose behalf the fundraiser and Protecting Lisbeth Facebook page were created) and author of the Thought Catalog essay and Protecting Lisbeth blog are the same person. Though the parties involved currently remain anonymous or pseudonymous, this premise appears to be false. I regret any error or confusion.

In an essay for Thought Catalog called “I Had an Affair with My Hero, A Philosopher Who’s Famous For Being ‘Moral,’” an anonymous graduate student describes her soured romance with a prominent professor from another university and how she learned that he initially hid his history of pursuing other young women. Shortly thereafter, her friend started a campaign to crowd-fund expenses for legal action. They created the pseudonym “Lisbeth” for the essay’s author. Under the heading “Help us sue the school protecting a known rapist,” the fundraiser’s description now reads, “I’m Emma Sloan, Yale 2010. My dear friend is suing the professor who tried to rape her and the university for knowingly protecting him. Thanks to donations from our generous supporters, she can afford the $7000 retainer for a forensic psychiatrist.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the case. Many within the academic community have joined the fray, whether to champion Lisbeth’s cause, attach it to broader gender equality concerns, express doubts, or simply gossip.

Title IX obligates schools that receive federal funds to address sexual violence or harassment on their campuses. To pursue a grievance or official complaint, the person need not herself be the victim of the alleged discrimination. Someone who claims to be the actual victim of a Title IX violation has the additional right to pursue her claim in private litigation against the university. If she can show that the school was deliberately indifferent despite actual knowledge of the misconduct, she can win injunctive relief or money damages for her injuries. Yale’s Title IX coordinator, Stephanie Spangler, is investigating Lisbeth’s claims.

So, where exactly did this professor’s alleged conduct pass from merely smarmy to worthy of legal sanction?

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In November 2012, we brought you a story about a woman who struggled to maintain her job at a major law firm while simultaneously being a mother to her young children. She ultimately decided to leave the firm, and in her departure memo, she detailed her harrowing schedule — from 4:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., from home to her firm and back again, oftentimes covered in a baby’s spit-up — day in and day out.

When Elie Mystal first wrote about this Biglaw mother’s travails, he said, “In a way, this memo is uplifting. You can’t have it all. When you finally come to accept that, it’s liberating. You don’t have to feel like a bad employee or a bad parent for not being able to do it all.”

But what if you could have it all, and be able to do it all? A junior partner at a Biglaw firm, a young mother who once found herself in the fetal position on the floor while she prepared for a class-action trial as an associate, thinks that it’s possible.

Of course she thinks it’s possible — she’s speaking from a position of privilege, and likely has a nanny for each day of the week. Right? Wrong. Take a look as one woman lawyer urges others to keep leaning in….

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