August 20, 2020 Feature

Gender Equality in the Legal Workplace: The Heart of the Matter

by Vinecea Edwards
Attaining gender equality in the legal profession is not just a matter of quantity control but quality control.

Attaining gender equality in the legal profession is not just a matter of quantity control but quality control.

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I’m a millennial lawyer who dreams of bursting through the glass ceiling for those who follow behind me. As a mixed-race, Black and Muscogee Creek Native woman lawyer, I am inspired by Lyda Conley (the first Native American woman admitted to the bar), Charlotte E. Ray (the first African American woman admitted to the bar), my mother, and my recently departed G’mama, who was the first black woman to graduate from UCLA School of Law. Despite the great women who came generations before, the idea of working at a women-run firm is still a rare experience. In fact, women represent only 19 percent of equity partners, although they represent 38 percent of all attorneys (American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, “A Current Glance at Women in the Law April 2019”; https://tinyurl.com/y56dxt5m). This begs the question of whether equity partnership is the only means of accessing gender equality in the legal workplace. The clear answer to this question is that although women can exert power through other responsibilities, women will not indeed be equal unless they are represented at all levels of the legal world. This article will assess gender equality as it relates to representation and the issues with breaking the “glass ceiling” in the legal profession.

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