A new ABA report, “In Their Own Words: Experienced Women Lawyers Explain Why They Are Leaving Their Law Firms and the Profession,” sheds more light on factors that affect the decisions by experienced female lawyers to remain in practice, move to a different job within the law or step out of the profession altogether after 15 or more years of practice.
The report, authored by Joyce Sterling, a professor at the Sturm College of Law in Denver, and Linda Chanow, a nonprofit executive, presents new data about the components that advance or impede long-term careers for female lawyers.
Focus groups in six cities as well as individual interviews yielded revealing comments, including:
“You give me the hardest problems to solve, but you tell me I am less important with the compensation you give me.”
“I don’t feel like I have anyone in a position of power who can personally relate to me.”
“[T]he power dynamic is very real. . . [P]eople are very uncomfortable when women lean into their power.”
“This report highlights the ongoing systemic barriers women still face in the legal profession,” ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said. “These women’s personal stories are eye-opening, and the recommendations illustrate the changes we need to make to support and advance all female lawyers.”
Among the recommendations the report makes to help law firms keep female attorneys:
- Assess the impact of firm policies and practices on female lawyers.
- Take steps to ensure there is a critical mass of female partners on key firm committees.
- Increase lateral hiring of female partners.
- Provide resources to relieve pressures from family obligations.
- Be flexible to support changing practices.
- ABA Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law
- “Walking Out the Door”
- “Left Out and Left Behind”
- ABA Commission on Women in the Profession
- ABA Journal: