AmLaw - Bad Economy: A Boon for Women Lawyers?

Reporting on an event marking the 2009 edition of 'Working Mother' magazine's "50 Best Law Firms for Women," AmLaw Daily is questioning whether the recession has been a means to bring about change for women in the legal profession.

AmLaw concludes: "It's optimistic to believe that most large law firms are rethinking the work/life balance equation during these hard times."  The article then goes on to say: "From where we sit, covering women in the profession for almost a decade, we don't see a revolution on the horizon. That said, increasingly--albeit slowly--some women have been able to stake out a viable career while fashioning their own flex-time arrangements. It's not a revolution, but a steady trickle."

To read AmLaw's complete article click here.



Interesting article.
I think it is refreshing that the author is willing to pose the question of whether the recession is going to be good for women and also to say that she doesn’t see a revolution on the horizon.  While she doesn’t go so far as to say it, I actually think that this recession is going to move the progress of women in law firms back a few steps and I question if pushing for part-time and flex-time is even the right thing to be talking about right now.
Before this recession, law firms were doing very well.  They were making a ton of money and getting comfortable with their business model which is, lets face it, tragically flawed in many ways.  However, in comfortable times I think that firms were starting to consider making accomodations to those looking for more life balance. Now that times are tough, firms are in survival mode.  Partners and associates, alike, are taking reductions in pay (probably to be very significant for partners at the end of the year) and firms are just trying to hold on.    This leads to a working environment that is ultra-competitive and not-very-accomodating.   I think women lawyers will feel the effects of this for a very long time and it will be many years before firms get comfortable enough to start accomodating the balance requests of their most valuable talent—and even then, it’ll be just the top talent as the workplace won’t be able to absorb the thousands of top lawyers that have been displaced in this market for a long while.
We need a change in leadership before there will be meaningful change in working conditions.  Women, we need to stick it out to make partner and then create the change ourselves.

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