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More Women, Less Problems? 5 Predictions On The Implications Of More Women in The Legal Profession

It is an exciting time to be a woman in the legal profession. I am definitely not suggesting that things are all “rainbows and butterflies” for female attorneys or that there isn’t still a lot of work to be done to close gender gaps. However, in 2016 women made up the majority of  law students in the United States for the first time. In 2017, also for the first time, A-list included gender among equity partners as a ranking factor in determining which law firms are best. And, the wage gap - while still present, is narrowing. The tide is…

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From Paralegal to Associate: Are you still doing “office housework”?

I recently read an article written by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on women doing office housework.[1]  It couldn’t ring truer to my ears than now.  As a paralegal, it is your job to do all the admin tasks being delegated by the attorneys.  But as an attorney, I somewhat still am asked to do those admin tasks on top of the workload of an attorney.  Recently, during a trial, not only was I expected to do all the preparation for the trial, but I was also expected to put the exhibits together, and prepare the binders.    What is one supposed…

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Susan Smith Blakely

How Women Lawyers Perceive Men’s Behavior

It can be difficult to know how men and women are supposed to relate to each other in the workplace these days.  What is too much affection, and, God forbid, what is too much touching?  I have seen close colleagues in an office awkwardly come together for either a handshake or a hug or a cheek kiss, and it is not certain where the gesture will end up.  It resembles some kind of crane-like mating dance, and it is, of course, because they are uncertain about what is appropriate and not appropriate and what is allowed and not allowed.  It…

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The Olympics and Me Too - On the Field: Women in Sports Law

In honor of today’s Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, I thought we would take a brief look at women’s participation in the Olympics. The Olympics have not always been, and it can be argued, continues to be hostile to women’s involvement. In fact, though the Olympic games in Ancient Greece included foot races for unmarried girls, women were banned from the first modern Olympics in 1896.  Women’s involvement in the Olympics and sports, in general, were openly criticized by the founder of the Modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. According to the Baron, participation in sports destroyed a woman’s…

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Smiling and Stuff

"Hey girl, it's okay to smile!" someone shouted at me as I walked down the steps to 24th Street Mission BART a few months ago.  My first reaction was: I know. What's THAT got to do with anything? As I'm reaching towards my thirties, and with sexual abuse and assault in the news more and more, I'm aware increasingly every day that the world sees me and labels me “woman,” and that carries its own set of connotations, expectations, and yes, risks with it. And although this is not a story about my own experience of abuse or assault, it…

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Join the Conversation:  This is Sexism

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys.  How’s the water?’  And the two young fish swim for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over a the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’ – David Foster Wallace, Kenyon Commencement Address, 2005 (later published as This is Water) Where is the line between what we should and shouldn’t ask of the female members of our bar?  What responsibilities do and don’t people in positions of power…

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Skirting the Ceiling: Success in Strength

Over the past year as a writer-in-residence, I explored gender dynamics and sexism in law. We talked about gender stereotypes and sexual harassment and how they affect workplace dynamics. We learned about women in law who were the first to break gender norms and how the industry's treatment of women evolved over time. Most importantly, we've engaged in conversation. Whether it be in the comments at the bottom of this page, on LinkedIn, or on Facebook, I've learned so much from each of you and am honored that so many took time to read and think about these issues that shape so…

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Female Surveyors: Why Now Is the Best Time to Start Your Career

A recent study carried out by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors or RICS discovered that 41% of women (older and young) were under the perception that gender would count against them at some point in their career. Following the RICS survey “The building industry was singled out by young women as one of the worst offenders that were ripe for change”. Typically, it is believed that women will get a hard time in this sector as will not be paid as much or even valued the same. On the last review, only 13% of the registered surveyors were, in…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Must Be on the Lookout for Sexual Harassment

You all need to be aware of possible sexual harassment in your offices.  These allegations are surfacing across all industries today, and none of us can act like it is not a problem in our profession and in our offices.  We all know that it is.  It was a problem when I first started practicing law in 1979, and it is still a problem today. If you see something, say something.  Sexual harassment can be blatant or it can be subtle --- like when a woman refuses advances from a supervising male colleague and ends up losing support for her…

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Demanding a Non-Toxic Work Environment

With all the revelations about sexual harassment in the workplace pouring out at the moment, many women are looking back on experiences from their past and asking important questions about if they have been treated fairly. Worryingly, a lot of women report on the normalisation of inappropriate behaviour in their workplace. If you are constantly told to turn a blind eye to the things going on around you, it can start to feel like an irritating yet harmless aspect of your work life. It shouldn’t be this way. When we allow sexual harassment and discrimination to become the norm, we…

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