January/February 2018 Newsletter
Greetings from the doldrums of winter — at least for those of us in the MidAtlantic and Northeast. We are so over winter here and hoping for spring.
But, when the sun shines on the glistening snow in the Rocky Mountains, it is stunning — even at 18 degrees below zero — and our family enjoyed a wildlife tour of Yellowstone National Park in January. And, yes, we saw wolves! It was awe-inspiring, and definitely worth braving the cold.
What’s Up at Best Friends at the Bar?
In November, I spoke at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in NYC, and in December I took my usual hiatus to spend holiday time with friends and family.
By January, I was back at my desk and working hard on the final draft of my new book, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice. I am happy to say that the book will go into production soon at Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, and I am hoping for a mid-summer release date. I also am delighted that I will be joined by Linda Myers of Kirkland Ellis, who will write the Foreword to the book. Linda and I agree that this book is important to Millennial lawyers, who bring a new set of values to the profession, and it is critical to law firm leaders, who must adapt to this new generation of lawyers to retain talent and safeguard succession plans. To ignore these issues is to risk the future of the law profession.
In February I spoke to the Women Lawyers of Charlotte. The event was held at the beautiful Foundation for the Carolinas and was a truly great afternoon, complete with a book signing and CLE credits. Congratulations to the organizers for filling the room with such an enthusiastic audience.
Future engagements include Catholic University Law School, and I also am in discussions with other groups for the spring season. The program “Owning Your Career” is especially popular, and now is the time to get on my speaking schedule.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING WOMEN LAWYERS
Work Space and Time Flexibility: This is a hot issue for both women lawyers and Millennial lawyers across the globe. In an on-line article in Australia Financial Review, the author noted that the competition for talent will drive the need for flexibility and commented, “Another seismic shift [in the law profession] will come as flexibility is increasingly embraced by all regardless of gender or parental status. But will millennials or their policy-embracing leaders force greater change?”
A Milestone of 50% Women in Law Firm Management: Congratulations to Drinker Biddle, which has achieved a 50/50 male/female split on its managing partners committee and its executive management team. According to an article in Law.com, the firm uses a two-step process for selecting firm leaders.
First, eligible partners make their interest known. To get a more diverse slate of candidates, the Drinker Biddle Women’s Leadership Committee reaches out to eligible women lawyers to assure that all interested women are included and that word of their interest is spread. Second, the firm conducts a “simple” democratic vote.
It may sound simple, but it must not be if other firms have failed to achieve this milestone. Hopefully, Drinker Biddle will set the pace for progress.
Women Empowering Women: A February 2018 conference at Yale Law also addressed female leadership and the many ways that women can empower other women and achieve mutual goals. The conference featured women leaders from a variety of professions, including law, academia, medicine, performing arts, and education. The program recognized the importance of female leadership and that the rise of female leaders in America affects how leadership is defined. Speakers urged attendees to move from “having a seat at the table to being at the head of it” and also noted the importance of men in the conversations about solutions for increasing women in leadership positions — a recurring theme of Best Friends at the Bar. For more on the conference, see this article.
New York City Enacts Law That Will Help Bring about Pay Parity for Women Lawyers: On October 31, 2017, a new law went into effect in New York City that restricts employers from asking job applicants about their salary history during the interview and hiring process. NYC joins Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Delaware, Oregon and Puerto Rico in efforts to legislate bans on salary history inquiries, but NYC’s law was the first one enacted and will be a testing ground on how these kinds of laws will be applied. Proponents of the new law see it as a means of creating opportunities for women, and particularly women of color, to earn wages based on their skill levels, productivity and market trends rather than past discriminatory pay practices. For more specifics of the new law, see the discussion on LinkedIn.
Why Are Women Leaving the Law Profession? Check out this article to get some answers to that question. Most of the reasons you see there — like lack of flexibility, other work-life issues, gender discrimination, and pay disparity, among others — may not surprise you. But you may be interested to discover that the ABA has launched a special study to dig deeper into the issues.
To get a different view, read Chapter 1 “Why Women Lawyers Leave” in my book, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers. Or, better yet, read the entire book! You will find that negative law firm cultures and values, which are incompatible to women, are at the heart of the issue.
FOR ALL LAWYERS
Dating in Law Firms: This is always a thorny issue, and it is not going away. Most of us know participants in office-based romances, and most of us have seen some of those relationships go very bad. However, it is a hard situation to address and enforce against.
In a recent article, Big Law Business.com recognizes the interplay between sexual harassment workplace issues and issues surrounding workplace romantic relationships and makes the following recommendations:
This is something that all law firms need to be thinking about and talking about.
That’s a Wrap!
Are you interested in an event at your law firm, law organization or law school? Contact me for program descriptions and scheduling on subjects including:
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My next newsletter will appear in April 2018. Until then, turn to the Best Friends at the Bar website to keep up with recent happenings on the blogs and social media there.
See you in the spring!