May 16, 2016 Practice Points

"What Happens At Law Firms When Women Take Charge"

By Tiffany deGruy

In the Law 360 Article entitled “What Happens At Law Firms When Women Take Charge,” author Jacqueline Bell explains how law firms that have achieved gender parity are “reaping the rewards of leadership diversity, attracting valuable lateral talent and clients and boosting their bottom lines.”

Bell explains how in a recent survey of more than 300 law firms, only 19 percent of equity partners were women. However, when a law firm or any other employer makes a commitment to diversity, one clear business benefit is access to a larger pool of talent. One important aspect of growing the number of quality women in a law firm is to develop a reputation in the community as being a great place for women to work. Over time, women will be drawn to your law firm based on the good working environment reputation. Also, “when significant numbers of women are in leadership roles at law firms, they can also help to ensure that policies are in place that help cut down on attrition and help firms hold onto top female talent.” However, Bell cautions that female attorneys do not stay where they are not valued, and in law firms, value is demonstrated primarily through compensation. Thus, it is essential that firms achieve fairness in compensation between genders.

Additionally, as a 2012 study found, companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity. The same is said to be true of law firms. Why? Diversity at the highest ranks of a company can broaden its perspective, increase creativity and improve results.

Finally, Bell argues that greater diversity creates a strong law firm culture and that “firms with a dynamic and diverse culture are likely to have attorneys who are strong ambassadors for the firm and who are great at wooing top talent and top clients.”

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career, gender parity, law firms, women

Tiffany deGruy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, Birmingham, AL

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