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Women Lawyers: Their Status, Influence, and Retention in the Legal Profession

Paula A. Patton

These figures suggest that, relative to total headcounts, women attorneys are under-represented among those in partnership. ... Ballard reported that women choose law as a career because they are engaged by the intellectual challenge, enjoy the opportunity to solve problems, and have an interest in advocacy; because they want to make a positive difference in civil, environmental, consumer and social issues; and because they have a desire to ensure their economic independence through use of their skills in a vital industry. ... As newer entrants in the profession, women were at a clear disadvantage under the old 'time and tenure' seniority compensation system that operated in the 1970s and 1980s. ... Women entered the legal profession at a time when there was significantly less camaraderie and more competition among lawyers than there traditionally had been. ... This solution, which creates a status between associate and equity partner, allows the firm to test business generation and client development ability before promoting an attorney to 'full partnership,' and the extra step lengthens the time an attorney must spend on the 'partnership track. ... Additionally, as the demand for special expertise and use of contract attorneys to fulfill this demand increases, to remain competitive in the market women will likely specialize and develop areas of expertise, removing themselves further from the traditional partnership track.
  • Print Location 11 Wm. & Mary J. of Women & L. 173

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