Lack of fairness, transparency, and access are just three of the reasons why women are leaving the legal field at a high rate, according to a piece written by Laffey, Leitner & Goode LLC Associate Amanda E. Melrood.
Melrood covers this topic in the newsletter of the DRI Young Lawyers Committee, “Raising the Bar.”
In her article, The Leaky Legal Pipeline, Melrood writes that the gender gap isn’t just an issue for women lawyers, but for clients too. Without a diverse legal staff, many firms are finding it difficult to attract and maintain a robust clientele.
Melrood cites research done by the ABA’s Presidential Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women In Law providing three reasons why women leave the legal field: (1) lack of fairness, transparency, and access to paths of success; (2) lack of flexibility and work-life balance; and (3) lack of inclusiveness. The research also shows how prevalent stereotyping, bias, and favoritism are in these three areas.
So, how can firms do better? According to Melrood, for starters, firms need to have formal, written policies for all processes from assignments to training to evaluation. Firms need to adjust their compensation rules to reward “office housework,” and compensation should reflect new business accounts as well. As for work-life balance, firms should allow telecommuting, flexible work hours, and a part-time partnership track. Paternity leave should be an option, too. Melrood states that if men are supported the same way women are when it comes to maternity and family leave, caregiving will not just be women’s issues.
When it comes to inclusion, Melrood says that women should be promoted to positions of power, and firms should take an active role in women lawyers’ professional and career development.
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