The Commission on Women in the Profession released a new research report on October 25, 2023, Legal Careers of Parents and Child Caregivers: Results and Best Practices from a National Study of the Legal Profession, that sheds light on how parenting impacts the legal careers of mothers and fathers.
The report, based on survey responses from more than 8,000 lawyers nationwide in various work settings (including in-house) and a dozen focus group interviews, reveals that many parents feel having children had a negative impact on their careers and more than half of working mothers felt they were perceived as less committed and less competent by their employers. The data revealed that this is not just a law firm problem but a legal profession problem that is impacting caregivers of children in all work settings.
Among the findings:
- Women are overwhelmingly responsible for what’s happening at home, from arranging child care (65 percent of mothers vs. 7 percent of fathers) and scheduling doctor appointments (71 percent of mothers vs. 9 percent of fathers) to helping with homework (41 percent of mothers vs. 12 percent of fathers).
- Women who are single and caregivers of dependent children experience more disadvantages than any other cohort, no matter what sector of the legal industry they work in.
- A much higher percentage of mothers compared to fathers experience demeaning comments about being a working parent (61 percent of mothers vs. 26 percent of fathers in law firms; 60 percent of mothers vs. 30 percent of fathers in other settings).
The research, spearheaded by Project Co-Chairs Michelle Browning Coughlin and Juanita Harris, was conducted by former Commission Chairs Roberta Liebenberg and Stephanie Scharf of the Red Bee Group and former ABA President Paulette Brown of MindSetPower.
The research report is available for free download.