Thought For The Day

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Is Making Partner Enough for Women Lawyers?

Making partner in a law firm has been the traditional “pay off” for most lawyers.  It is when they have confirmation that they “have arrived” as legal practitioners.  Although there are trends away from that these days with a growing focus on the “life” part of the work-life balance for both men and women, partnership remains a real draw for most lawyers in private practice.

Today we are seeing a reversion to one-tier partnership by large firms like DLA and Akin Gump, and we can expect to see other firms falling in line in the future.  Although that restructuring can have the positive effect of providing more practice styles and options at the mid-levels of law firms, the return to one-tier partnerships will make partnership even more of the brass ring than it has been in recent years.

For women lawyers, making partner can be a very big deal.  Although approximately 50% of the graduates of law schools today are women, only 20% of the partners in law firms are women.  As a result, it is a very significant accomplishment for the women who make it to that level.

But, have they really “made it?”  That depends on how you define it.  Yes, they have the title, but what about the amenities?  What about salary, for instance?

According to an article in Think Progress, citing a study in Sky Analytics, a legal invoicing company, women lawyers can work longer and harder but still be paid less.  The conclusion from the study was that “no matter what tier firm women work at, [as] determined by the number of attorneys and its geographic footprint, [the women] will be billed at significantly lower rater per hour” than men.  For instance, although 2 per cent of men at top tier firms are billed at over $1000 an hour, virtually no women bill at that rate and, while half of the men in the top tier firms bill at more than $ 500 per hour, less than a third of the women have that billing rate.

Other findings were that women’s billing rates rise less over time than men’s, that female law firm partners work more hours than men, and that women in the profession earn about 87 per cent of what men make.

And that is not all.  According to a recent article on the Above the Law blog, quoting Vivien Chen of The Careerist summarizing the NAWL 2013 Report, men dominate the lateral equity partner ranks, and women are well-represented in lower-status positions (like associates, of counsel, nonequity partners and staff lawyers).  These results prompted the Above the Law editors to lament that Biglaw firms have not “realized that women have a rightul place in this profession, and deserve to be treated as fairly and as equally as their male counterparts.”  The editors went on to describe themselves as “clearly and painfully delusional” to have thought otherwise.

The Above the Law article concluded:

“We’re left wondering why Biglaw firms keep claiming that they’re attempting to advance women within their firms.  They claim to have written programs to promote the advancement of women, but it seems that they’ve yet to get with them.  They’ve ‘repeatedly advised that they are committed to the goal of increasing gender equity,’ but the results of that goal are nowhere to be seen.  If these firms actually gave one damn about their female attorneys — beyond touting the fact that they have real, live women working at the firm — then we’d have seen more progress by now.”

Hear, hear.  Women lawyers beware.  The Glass Ceiling is still firmly in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Dr. Samuel Johnson

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Thought For The Day

Make the decision, make it with confidence, and the world will be yours.

Jaren L. Davis

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How to Seal The Deal after an Interview

In my last blog, I gave you some tips on interviewing for internships, clerkships and other law jobs.  I also encouraged you to use the career services offices at your law schools to help you prepare for interviews.  I hope you all ran to your computers and immediately signed up for a session with career services staff.  Good for you!  I love it when you actually listen.

I emphasized the importance of making a good first impression in that last blog, and now it is time to talk about how to conclude the interview and leave a good and lasting impression, which you hope will lead to a job offer.  That most often will be dictated by what you learned during the interview.

If you kept an open mind during the interview and really listened to what the interviewer had to say about the firm and the practice, you should know by the end of the interview whether the job interests you.  If what you have heard makes you want the job, say so.  This is the time to tell the interviewer what particularly impresses you about the firm and why you think that you could fit in well there.  You may want to talk about some skill that you have, which you think would be especially valuable to the law firm, or what area of the practice particularly interests you and why.  Do not be arrogant, but also do not be shy.  This is your time.  Use it to your advantage.

And, after you have killed the interview, do not forget to send a thank you note.  There is some disagreement about whether e-mail suffices for this purpose or whether a handwritten note is necessary, and I do not think there is any hard and fast rule.  Instead, I recommend that you take your cue from the description of the interviewer.  If the interviewer is a particularly sophisticated and well-dressed woman, I would opt for the hand-written note because I think that is what she might send in a similar circumstance.  However, if the interviewer is a man with a casual demeanor and sports memorabilia all over his office, I would be secure in sending an e-mail. Carrier pigeons are out!

No matter how you send the thank you note, consider it very important and take care with the content.  Tailor it to something that was discussed during the interview or something that the interviewer revealed about himself or herself.  In other words, personalize it.  Nothing cutesie, however.  This is not the time to send jokes or other “entertaining” references.  You want to be remembered for your most personable and professional self.

Good luck!  Interviewing is tedious, but it also is a great opportunity.  Take advantage of interviews that you are excited about and also those that you don’t think interest you as much.  Get the most interviewing experience possible to prepare you for the one you really want. 

When that time comes, you will be ready!

 

 

Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.

Robert Frost

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It’s Interview Season: Things You Should Know

Some of you law students may be interviewing for summer jobs right now, and I hope that you are working with your law school career services departments to do that.  I always am amazed at how many law students circumvent the career services staff and think they can find good internships, clerkships and jobs on their own.

Some can.  That is true.  There are always the superstars or the ones who are well-connected.  But the majority of students would benefit from the advice and counsel of the career services staff.  I know many career services deans and their staffs in law schools across the country, and they report a frustration that more students do not access their services until it is too late.  Do not be one of those students.

In addition to what you find out from your career services office, here are my tips about interviewing.  I have interviewed for a few law jobs in the past, and, more importantly, I have interviewed many law students and lawyers for jobs in law firms.  Here is a little bit of what I have learned along the way.

  • Make your first good impression NOT as a lawyer but as a person.  Put your best person forward.  Smile, be as engaging as possible and show your enthusiasm without being “bubbly.”  Remember, the interviewer is looking for someone who he or she can introduce to clients and send to court.  Leave the cheerleader personality at home.  This also is not the time to demonstrate how smart and erudite you are.  There will be plenty of time for that later in the interview.  This is the time to make the interviewer like you upon first meeting you and want to like you more;
  • Choose several things about yourself to share with the interviewer that you hope will be memorable.  These are the things that they scratch in the margins of your resume to help them remember you as they later review their interview notes.  It can be a summer job experience, a travel experience that gave you a new perspective, a special project you did in undergraduate or law school or your dedication to a sport or other avocation.  Work it into the conversation as subtly as possible.  Hum drum will not make the grade here.  It should be something that makes a positive and lasting impression;
  • Ask questions about the firm that cannot be found on the web site.  The interviewer assumes that you have done your research.  Asking questions about how many offices the firm has and the areas of practice is a waste of the interviewers time.  So, ask questions that will help you decide if the firm is a good fit for you.  This is where you can shine and demonstrate your intelligence and maturity.  Questions about the mentoring program, how soon associates can expect to get courtroom experience, whether associates are included on “pitch” teams and what kinds of pro bono opportunities there are for young lawyers will show your enthusiasm, and answers to those questions cannot be found on the web site.  Remember that the interviewer is also looking for a good fit for the firm.  Help him or her do that by asking good questions that reveal something about yourself, your values and the kind of workplace that interests you.  But, avoid questions about family leave, childcare facilities, and overtime pay.  Those questions should be saved for an informal setting with associate lawyers some time before you sign on the dotted line; and
  •  Be pleasant in all things.  Do not show the interviewer your dark side — and we all have a dark or darker side.  This is the time when you want to draw the interviewer to you not frighten the interviewer away.  Even if you are asked about your lowest grade on your law school transcript, keep a smile on your face and say that you wish you had enjoyed the subject matter more so that you could have performed as well as you did in other classes that interested you.   Turn a negative into a positive.

And there is more.  Tune into my next blog to find out how to conclude the interview and what kind of followup may seal the deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day

A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves.

Unknown

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