Will female lawyers ever get their fair share?


Thanks to recruiting giant Major, Lindsey, Africa for pointing out Natalie Kitroeff's Bloomberg Business report, "Top Female Lawyers Say They Are Treated Like Assistants at Work: One woman says her male colleagues call her their "work wife"" on American Lawyer's study on workplace inequality in the law. The long and short of the report (and I know this won't surprise many female lawyers) is that despite the rise of a handful of high-profile female partners in recent years, overall, women continue to earn less than men. And they get stuck with the majority of the chores, not just at home but also on legal matters. Some report being treated as if they're assistants to male colleagues.

No, this isn't because women elect the "mommy track" or because they go into "easier" practice areas or because they work fewer hours. Although it's certainly true that female lawyers who want to have children often feel that they have little choice but to downshift--sometimes to employers who offer fewer and more flexible hours, sometimes out of the legal profession altogether. In either case, return to their original career paths is uncertain.

But workplace inequality in the legal field is true no matter how hard women lawyers work or how great a job they do. For example, a survey of 2,000 partners showed the female partners earned $250,000 less than male partners, and that female partners received smaller origination -- even when they brought in the exact same amount of business.

It's frustrating. And no doubt a contributor to the steady drop-off of women in the legal profession as they gain seniority.

Have you experienced this inequality first-hand? What did you experience and how did you react?