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Opting Back In: Not As Easy As You’d Hope

Eight years after Lisa Belkin's article on the burgeoning Opt-Out Revolution, Ruth Franklin outlines some scary statistics about moms now trying to opt back in.  Her piece, The Opt-Out Problem We Don't Talk About, discusses both women who may still be married but now want to re-enter the job marked (like the former Big Law lawyer who took nine years off and then could only find a job as an unpaid intern) and women who now find themselves unexpectedly divorced and struggling to make ends meet years after opting out.  As you might imagine, opting back in is only more problematic…

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Are Family Obligations More Compelling Excuses For Men?

Kathleen O'Brien wrote an interesting piece "Christie's Family-First Defense for Blizzard Absence: No Woman Could Say That," which notes a double standard among professional men and women in regard to using family as an excuse for failing to meet a professional obligation.  At a press conference, New Jersey's Governor Christie stated that his obligation as a husband and father came before his obligations as governor, which accounted for his decision not to cut a family trip short to return to New Jersey to deal with the blizzard in a more timely manner.  Christie was seen as a charming family man--joking…

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Did the recession hurt law firm diversity?

Carol Williams reports in the Los Angeles Times that 2010 marked the first year since the 1990s that the proportion of women and minorities at law firms actually decreased.  The decline is likely because those most vulnerable to lose their jobs during recent law firm "downsizing" were younger associates, and younger associates tended to reflect more diverse hiring practices.  Even though the statistical drop wasn't astronomical (less than one percentage point), fewer numbers of women and minorities in the pipeline could still affect diversity in the longterm when women and minorities are less represented among those being considered for partnership…

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When Will Women Be (at least) 50% of the Experts?

I attended an all-day CLE training class last weekend and was dismayed to see that women were hardly among the presenters.  The two long substantive sessions were both presented by men, the event leader was a man, and the afternoon panels were mostly men (3 men and 1 woman on 1 panel and 2 women and 2 men on the other).  The topics were fairly generic, and it seemed that if the organizers had aimed for gender parity, it wouldn't have been impossible to find a woman who could have been at least one of the main three presenters.My guess…

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Opting Out: from 2003 to the present

No one has been able to explain why professional women are not attaining the status in their professions seemingly predicted by gender enrollment parity, focus on diversity, mentoring, affinity groups, and national attention over the last twenty years or so.  For awhile, the discussion about opting out was all the rage (see Lisa Belkin's 2003 article The Opt-Out Revolution, for example).  Were professional women choosing to leave their professions to stay home with kids?  A 2005 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research presented data that the economy was forcing women out and also pointed out that the media frenzy…

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Maximize Your Time in Law School

A friend of mine just started law school, and she asked me what I wished I’d known when I was a 1L that could have changed my law school experience for the better. Here are the top three things I think you can do to maximize law school: 1. Invest time in making friends Business school students know that networking is just as important a part of their business school experience as their classes. Though calling it “networking” makes you sound a little too premeditated about the whole process, the idea behind it is a good one that I don’t…

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Advice from New York’s top women attorneys

New York Magazine recently reached out to some of the most successful women lawyers practicing in New York City to solicit their advice for younger lawyers. The verdict? “In a nutshell, you have to be prepared to work very hard for very long hours” and “unless you really love the work, it won’t be worth that very high cost.” Exploring “how hard is hard,” the article references one partner who was using her Blackberry during labor, another who took “literally no time off” after giving birth three times, and others who forfeit sleep to work “around the clock when the…

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Advice for success from New York’s top female attorneys

New York Magazine recently reached out to some of the most successful women lawyers practicing in New York City to solicit their advice for younger lawyers. The verdict? “In a nutshell, you have to be prepared to work very hard for very long hours” and “unless you really love the work, it won’t be worth that very high cost.” Exploring “how hard is hard,” the article references one partner who was using her Blackberry during labor, another who took “literally no time off” after giving birth three times, and others who forfeit sleep to work “around the clock when the…

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The Giggle Monster

In my continual search to find the newest advice for professional women, I randomly came across this old post at On Phara entitled Channeling Barbie: Career Advice for Professional Women, and then immediately googled John McKee, the guy who is cited heavily in the post. Just so you're oriented as to the messenger, I'll start with John McKee, self-styled as "one of America's leading executive coaches" and author of Business Woman Web: How to Use Gender Bias to Ensure Your Career Success. Red flags, anyone? In addition to advocating using gender bias rather than eradicating it, McKee answers the question…

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Are Women Judges The Meanest?

The Las Vegas Review Journal's "Judging the Judges" survey asked lawyers who practiced before Clark County District Court judges to rate the judges' courtesy. Of the attorneys surveyed, two-thirds were male. The results ranked female judges as significantly less courteous than their male counterparts with even the highest-ranked female judge still scoring lower in courtesy than "all but two of the male judges." According to "experts who study judges and the courts, attorneys and litigants favor a judge similar to them, whether in age, ethnic makeup or gender," which could explain why the primarily male survey base would be biased…

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