Women Lawyers in Big Firms: A Study in Progress Toward Gender Equality

Judith S. Kaye

Recently the front page of the New York Law Journal reported that Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy would relocate the head of its 100-lawyer banking department to the firm's Los Angeles office, where its Pacific Rim and West Coast practice is expanding. ... But I'm going to resist the temptation to tell those stories, and instead focus on the important subjects reflected by the Milbank statistics -- the obvious change in the climate of big firm practice; the obvious change in the composition of those firms; and the impact of these changes on each other. ... A friend I've watched since she was in law school -- now a partner in a major firm -- observed that the stakes or "antes" for success within the firms have been upped significantly for partners as well as associates, with partner "dues" payable in the form of more billable hours, more business and enlarged client bases. ... While The New York Times recently wrote of "mommy track" associates, it is also true that with delayed marriage and childbearing, and with the computer's unquenchable thirst for partner revenues and billable hours, even women who have secured the brass ring of partnership may find themselves there -- admitted, yet not truly admitted, to the partnership. ... While women have long been a part of the legal profession, this is the time they will make a real impact that might serve as a model for all society as it struggles toward gender equality.
  • Print Location 57 Fordham Law Review 111

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