December 05, 2018 Articles

Time’s Up on the Lack of Female Trial Attorneys

Why is this and what is the solution?

Anne E. McClellan

At a continuing legal education seminar on trial practice in Phoenix, Arizona, several years ago, the all-male panel of seasoned litigators was asked what still made them nervous. One of the more widely known and respected panel members responded, “A female attorney on the other side. There aren’t many of them, but the ones that make it to handle a trial will give you a run for your money.” His comment still rings true. Few female litigators receive meaningful courtroom experience, and even fewer serve as trial attorneys. The ones who achieve the designation of lead counsel, generally, had to outperform their male counterparts and prepare twice as hard for each courtroom opportunity to overcome implicit biases. The lack of female attorneys in the courtroom deserves attention, and it is long past time for change.

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