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Women's Advancement in BigLaw Not Progressing, Reports NAWL

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on March 07, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

March is Women's History Month, and tomorrow is International Women's Day, but apparently law firms have not gotten the memo. Many take this time to celebrate the achievements of women, and while we share those sentiments, we have some news that may cast us as a Debbie Downer.

National Association of Women Lawyers

The National Association of Women Lawyers ("NAWL") is an organization "devoted to the interests of women lawyers and women's rights" and is "the voice of women in law®." Established in 1899, NAWL has grown to encompass much more than education, and now is responsible for several programs, events and reports. Last week, NAWL released its Report of the Eighth Annual NAWL National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms.

The 2014 Report's Findings

Roberta Liebenberg, report co-author and NAWL Board member, stated that the 2014 survey results are "basically showing very little progress, after years of very little progress." She added, "Unfortunately, the current statistics are not significantly different from what they were when the first NAWL Survey was released in 2006."

That's depressing. So what were the findings?

The survey, among other things, confirmed the following: compared to the number of women attending law school, there's a disproportionately low number of women equity partners; partner lateral hiring favors men; there's a gender pay gap, and some firms won't even report their data, and other equally non-positive results.

Enough on the Problem, What's the Solution?

That's nothing new right? If you're like us, you're tired of hearing about the problem and want a solution. Anne O'Donnell, a fellow FindLaw writer, points to several publications issued by the ABA's Gender Equity Task Force.

Liebenberg noted that when women succeed, firms and their clients succeed, and as such, put the onus on firms to initiate change. She stated, "The paradigm will not change unless and until the country's largest firms make a real commitment to implement more equitable policies and practices for compensation, client origination credit and advancement to equity partnership and leadership positions."

NAWL Mid-Year Meeting

If you want to get more involved in NAWL, network with other women attorneys, and fulfill your CLE requirements with classes "that will assist you as a woman lawyer both in advancing your career and attaining leadership positions in your firm or organization," consider attending the 2014 NAWL Mid-Year Meeting, in Washington D.C., on March 19-20, 2014. To learn more and register, visit the NAWL website.

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