Impossible Expectations Apparently Doom Women to Unhappiness

As lawyers, we are already 3.6 times more likely to suffer from a major depressive disorder than non-lawyers with similar socio-demographic traits. As women, it now appears we are more likely to be unhappy due to our membership in that demographic as well. Recent research findings suggest that women, who reported being happier than men in the 1970s, are now less happy than men. Two research papers by Alan Krueger and Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have sparked a flurry of speculative articles (mostly by men) on the disparity. Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame had 4 hypotheses for the gap:1.…

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Judge Nancy Gertner

The revolution of falling expectations

In the 1960s, social critics spoke about the "revolution of rising expectations," describing the phenomenon in which succeeding generations of Americans expected to do better than their parents and the conflicts that resulted when they did not.If the latest issue of Working Mother magazine trumpeting the "50 Best Law Firms for Women" is any indication, we are now in the midst of "the revolution of falling expectations," which will have its own serious consequences.Working Mother -- in an altogether commendable effort to monitor the progress of women in the largest firms -- ranked them by various measures, including the percentage…

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Are these really the 50 best firms for women?

Judge Nancy Gertner of the District of Massachusetts submitted the below Op Ed to Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly ( commenting on the Working Mother 50 best law firms for women. She highlights that the word "honor" has to be put into the correct context since many of the firms in Boston on the list have lower than averagae women as equity partners.She calls the Working Mother survey a part of a revolution of "falling expectations". She questions the reason so few women are at the upper echelons of private law firms and demands that we be asking those questions of the…

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Shifting Expectations: Women Less Inclined to Pursue Legal Careers

Leigh Jones has an article entitled Fewer Women Are Seeking Law Degrees in the National Law Journal this week. She cites statistics that since 2002 the percentage of women attending law school has declined every year from 49% in 2002 to 46.9% this year. Of course, the total number of applicants to law school has also declined in the past two years with female applicants for 2006 falling by 7.7% and male applicants by 6.7% (Jones has an interesting graph illustrating this phenomenon in her article). At least partly due to the drop in female applicants, the number of women…

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Work-Life Balance Isn’t a Woman’s Issue (or an American one)

A recent article by Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze highlighted work-life balance issues faced by Canadian firm lawyers. Debbie, with abrupt words and “language laden with cursing” alerts the interviewer that she will be working all night and that he can quote her that sometimes she hates her job. Canadian firm lawyers, it seems, are not so different from their southern counterparts (though the first-year associate standard is only 1,700 billable hours, which is modest when you look at 2,000+ hours that many big-city U.S. attorneys routinely bill). Also familiar is Debbie’s concern that she has “a lack of control over her personal…

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Heather Aquino

... and they all look just the same.

A few weeks ago I attended the Vault Diversity Job Fair in New York City. This job fair was unique because it offered attendance to both minorities and to women. A large amount of law students were in attendance, and I had the opportunity to make observations about the crowd that had turned out for the event. One thing that I could not help but notice was how few individuals seemed to fit into both categories of students that were invited to the event. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of minority women at the event. After the event…

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Are you willing to bring home the dough while your husband/partner bakes it?

Editor's Note: As part of Ms. JD's 5th Birthday celebration, we'll be looking back at our favorite posts over the years.The New York Times had an interesting article this week about the "hostility" and difficulty many professional women now face "trying to figure out how to balance pride in their accomplishments against their perceived need to bolster the egos of the men they date." Since most firm lawyers start out with three-figure salaries, this phenomenon, assuming you buy it, would likley affect many single women lawyers trying to have a dating life in whatever time they can get away from…

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Ten Family-Friendly Firms (new ranking by law students)

The women's student group at my school has just release its second annual ranking of "the top ten family-friendly firms." I did not have any part in preparing these rankings... just passing them along. The press release is here. According to Yale Law Women and co-sponsoring women's law groups at Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Boalt, Northwestern, and Virginia, the top ten family-friendly firms of 2007 are... [More after the jump]Quarles & Brady (Phoenix)Proskauer Rose (New York) Akin Gump Strauss Hauer (Washington, DC) Jenner & Block (Washington, DC) Mayer Brown (Chicago)Covington & Burling (Washington, DC) Arnold & Porter (Washington, DC) DLA…

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Part Time at a Firm: Opportunity or Curse?

I’ve always wondered about Biglaw attorneys who are on a part-time schedule. This is partly because I try to be realistic about the future and wonder whether this will be something I will resort to once a few full time 2000+ billable years break down my cheery disposition towards Biglaw practice. Also it is partly because I wonder just how it happens. In my mind, I can’t imagine how the arrangement begins. I frankly cannot see myself asking anybody at the firm about the option because of an assumption that I’ve concocted in my head that as soon as I…

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Whitney Hill

Mentoring—> Sisterhood—> Supreme Court?

I cannot help but wish that three or four more women were sitting on the US Supreme Court. This will happen. A clutch of women Supreme Court Justices would be very visible role models, but until then we can celebrate the women lawyers who are federal judges, state supreme court judges, civil rights lawyers, politicians, and partners in law firms. I think that the power and influence of positive role models cannot be understated. In that vein, a woman in the legal profession needs a mentor to give wisdom in the form of cautionary tales, guidance and advice. Role models…

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