Women Leaders, Junior Attys on Gender Equity Battles Ahead
With the arrival of International Women's Day, Law360 Pulse posed to women just starting out in BigLaw careers and those who have risen to the top of their firms a single question: What opportunities and limitations are there for women in today's legal industry?
One theme came up again and again from both junior attorneys and the women leading large law firms — the march toward a fully equal legal profession has been slow, but progress is being made and the hard work must continue.
Here, in the words of both junior and senior women attorneys, a celebration of the triumphs and a commitment to further change toward the goal of creating a profession where equity is woven into the fabric of the culture.
As published in Law360 Pulse:
Shareen Sarwar • Associate, Insurance Recovery
Firms across the legal industry recognize the benefits that come from having a truly diverse team of attorneys; however, women have not yet reached the goal line of having the same opportunities as men and remain vastly underrepresented — particularly in the equity partner and leadership ranks. Though there are now numerous opportunities arising for women in firms, the critical question is: What is the quality of those opportunities, and are women being elevated to important roles at every level?
Self-advocating is — or should be — second nature to women in the legal industry. But for junior associates like me, finding women in higher positions is essential to developing the level of self-confidence that underpins self-advocacy. Meaningful representation is key, and I've been fortunate to have multiple women practice group leaders already in my career at Blank Rome who have inspired me.
The pandemic has exacerbated a challenge for many women in the legal industry — finding the balance between being a lawyer and a mother, especially with a lack of dependable child care. This impacts the ability of women to avail themselves of opportunities at work. "Work-life balance" was a real struggle to achieve and is often an epic juggling act — sometimes the job must come first, simply put. I have greatly appreciated my firm's understanding and support in this regard. And as more firms genuinely recognize and appreciate the unique struggles that come along with being a working mom, it will go a long way towards setting women up for success.
“Women Leaders, Junior Attys on Gender Equity Battles Ahead,” by Aebra Coe was published in Law360 Pulse on March 8, 2021.