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The recent partner promotions over at Cravath are being celebrated by many because all the new partners are women.
Despite the not-so-recent (and continuous) uptick in women enrolling in law school and becoming lawyers, gender parity at the top levels of BigLaw and corporate legal departments has lagged severely, though not as badly as in smaller firms. However, Cravath, Swaine and Moore, this year, and in 2016, announced all women classes of new partners, and in 2017, a third of the six new partners were also women. Clearly, it is a firm that has put its hiring where its mouth is in terms of working toward closing the gender gap in BigLaw.
While the title of this piece alludes to luck, looking at the brief descriptions of Cravath's promoted partners, it's clear luck had little to do with it. And that's just part of the trend that's likely to continue as women's enrollment in law school continues to remain high.
Unfortunately, when it comes right down to it, gender and racial bias are still having a significant impact on the legal profession. Even with how far we've come in the age of #MeToo, the disparity between the profession that men and women experience is stark: 70% of women in the legal profession have had to endure sexist comments, jokes and stories at work. 25% have endured sexual harassment. And keep in mind that these types of numbers are traditionally under-reported in any survey.
In addition to 1 in 4 women attorneys dealing with sexual harassment, the stigma related to motherhood, social pressures, and even implicit bias are other factors that create barriers to advancement. It is still all too common for women and minority attorneys to have to go "above and beyond" in order to get the same sort of recognition, or opportunities, as male or white colleagues. And that doesn't even account for the gender pay gap, which is still a very real problem in the legal profession.
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