About
The Common Scold



The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!


Inclusion Initiative Sets $139 Million Goal

HarlanEmery Harlan, board chair of the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (and firm chair at Gonzalez Saggio Harlin) reports that members of NAMWOLF's "Inclusion Initiative" have announced a new goal of spending more than $139 million this year on legal services provided by outside firms owned by minorities and women.

II participants include large departments at 25 large U.S. corporations, including  AT&T, Coca Cola, Pacific Gas & Electric, and others.

200x267 Blount SusanSusan Blount, senior vice president and general counsel at Prudential, notes that "women are 50 percent of law school graduates, but they have a higher rate of attrition and failure to make partner than their male counterparts.The situation if even more profound for African American and other minority attorneys."

Members of the Inclusion Initiative work closely with NAMWOLF to identify best practices to maximize relationships with high quality minority‐ and women‐owned law firms, says Harlan.

"If the Inclusion Initiative companies meet the 2012 goal, we will have spent in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars on MWBE law firms in just three short years," said Richard Meade, Prudential's vice president and chief legal officers for international businesses. NAMWOLF, based in Milwaukee, is composed of more than 100 MWBE law firms in 33 states.

See Corporate Counsel article here.

Images: GSH, Prudential.

July 9, 2012 in Diversity, People | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just Do It - Reprise

33390284 Bad news arrives from our colleague Vivia Chen, via The Careerist blog, regarding the 2010 survey from the National Association of Women Lawyers, which documents absoluty no movement of women into equity partner posts — it remains at 15%, the same rate it has been for the last five years.

Women, she writes, are barely represented on influential committees at their firms, and there's not a single woman among the top 10 rainmakers. (The study looks at the 200 largest U.S. firms. Click here for survey data.)

What's not surprising to LTN readers who follow e-discovery staffing: NAWL found that 80% of Am Law 100 firms (and 50% of the second 100) employ staff lawyers (non-partnership track positions) -- and more than 60% are filled by women. These are jobs that by definition offer "little possibility of career advancement," Chen notes. (Minorities also tend to occupy these posts, which often do not include benefits.)

  In 2008, when the U.S. Census office reported depressing figures chronicling absurd gender pay discrepancies within the legal profession — women are making only 51% of what men make in comparable jobs —  I challenged "every GC, law firm managing partner, and legal vendor CEO to check their own employee records and remedy this."

It's unacceptable and an absolute embarrassment for the legal profession -- with all our self-righteous rhetoric about equality — to produce such dismal statistics. We need to fix this, now.

November 10, 2010 in Diversity, Hiring & Retention | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

YOUR OPINION PLEASE!

Ties
As frequent readers
of Law Technology News know, a key mission of our publication is to champion the members of our legal technology community — IT leaders, paralegals, lit support and e-discovery professionals, firm executives, vendors, et al. I am constantly on my soap box hounding law firm managing partners and corporate GC to fix gender pay inequity, and preaching the power of diversity.

For years, LTN's art director Shane DeLeers and I have insisted that when we run photos of members of our community, that they be in "go-to-court" professional attire; e.g., jacket and tie for the gents; equivalent for the gals. We believe that presents them in the most authoritative, positive light; and helps earn respect from the legal organizations that (at least historically) have not always recognized their contributions.

But lately I've been getting some push back from folks I admire — who tell me that I need to loosen up, because our community does not wear ties (except for funerals and court appearances) and that by requiring ties, LTN is not reflecting our community. Sure, I know you would never get hired if you showed up for a job interview at Google in a suit. But does it help get you a seat at the decision-making table in your organization?

What do you think? Is it time to stop requiring ties in photos for Law Technology News?

Update: To clarify, I am referring here primarily to photos submitted for President's Corner and our People column, and "controlled" photo shoots; as opposed to "live" photography from events such as LegalTech or ILTA where almost everyone is in business casual.

February 24, 2010 in Diversity, Etc. | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack

JUST EQUAL #2

Huge thanks to Craig Ball -- and to the Women in E-Discovery's NYC Chapter -- for a wonderful lunch at the organization's January meeting -- where Craig and I spoke about how women can use e-discovery training to end run the "glass ceiling."

I'm in the process of writing about the event for the next issue of LTN -- and because we have recently merged the LTN and Law.com technology website, we have not yet completed building the archives, so I don't have public access yet to many LTN stories.

Therefore, if you will induldge me, I'm going to reprint my Nov. 2008  "Just Equal" column here, so I can link to it in LTN and folks will be able to access it. I'm also putting an excerpt of my October 2008 Editor's Note where I challenged every law firm managing partner, every GC, and every vendor CEO to fix gender pay inequities. It's easy. Just get a salary report from HR, identify what needs to be changed, and in the words of Nike, "Just Do it!"

I'll put these "behind the curtain," so just click below to "keep reading" to find it.

Editor's Note October 2008

Many of us were appalled to learn that after all these years, we still have an embarrassing gender gap: women in our legal industry last year earned only 51% of the money that went to men in equal jobs. U.S. Census figures, released in August, reveal that women earned about $53,800, compared to male peers' $105,200, reports The National Law Journal's Vesna Jaksic.

Ironically, our tech community scored better, but still inexcusably different, with women paralegals and litigation support staff getting 93.2% of what men get paid for the same work. When you consider that women dominate trial support staff work, it's even more chilling.

This is unacceptable. I challenge every GC, law firm managing partner, and legal vendor CEO to check their own employee records and remedy this today. (Check out the fiery debate on The Common Scold — http://tinyurl.com/ltnpay.)

Just Equal, November 2008

by Monica Bay

Recently, Chere Estrin (who is launching a magazine for women in litigation, with the sassy name, Sue) and I were cyberchatting about the thorny challenges that face women, minorities, gays and lesbians in the legal profession.

Recent reports in The National Law Journal (http://tinyurl.com/NLJdiversity) have been disheartening, documenting pay discrepancies, and little improvement in ladder climbing at BigLaw, especially for minority attorneys. Even more distressing — the toooften- vitriolic comments on Above the Law (www.abovethelaw.com) and other blogs.

Estrin happened to notice that our September LTN was estrogen-free, and asked me about why there were no women's bylines.

"What do you think accounts for the lack of women writers, technology pros and other positions in legal technology?" she queried.

I was surprised, and grabbed a handful of issues to check my own stats. As editor of LTN for a decade, I have always had a fierce commitment to embrace diversity in all aspects of our operation. I also blog about this topic constantly on The Common Scold (www.thecommonscold.com) and EDD Update (www.eddupdate.com). My passion is shared by our leadership, one of the many reasons why I've stayed here for 23 years. Here's what I found:

• Ten members of our 38-member editorial advisory board are women. I rotate about 20% of members off every year to make room for new talent. But I have not had success attracting minority members, only one in the last few years. (Interested candidates, e-mail me!)

• Women are regularly featured as our "Up Close" profile, so far this year, in five issues.

• May's President's Corner was a female.

• In the last four issues, 10 women had bylines. Donna Payne writes her wonderful Test Drive column, featured in most issues.

• Over the decade, our unit has hired and trained many talented journalists, in cluding many women and several minorities.



Indeed, the foundation of LTN has been our keen belief that our profession is changing from being run like private clubs — to a corporate model that values diversity and empowers everyone to do their best possible work. It's only good business to do so.

This is a core LTN campaign that I am proud to champion.

But it's obvious that our legal profession has a long road to go, and that there are no easy answers. Lisa Belkin, in her final Life's Work column (http://tinyurl.com/LTNBelkin) in The New York Times summed it up when she said that after a decade, she's left with more questions than answers.

There are so many nuanced factors that sabotage glib road maps: everything from balancing family and work; negotiating salaries; teamwork; effective self-promotion; leadership; and even ridiculous stereotypes (e.g., crying ruins a woman's career). And a whole lot of folks, myself included, have absolutely no interest in the lifestyle and sacrifices required to become and stay a BigFirm partner.

But there is no question — racism and sexism remain deeply embedded in our profession. That simply must change. We must continue the dialogue, no matter how difficult. We must strongly support and mentor the women, minorities, gays and lesbians who are climbing the ranks of our profession.

Fortunately, there are good men and women genuinely trying to fix this. We simply cannot give up. We must use everything in our power to make it right, and just. 

January 22, 2010 in Diversity, EDD: E-Discovery, Webinars, Podcasts, Programs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

HONORING MARTIN LUTHER KING

King Today,  we take a day to reflect on the dreams and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.

Here are a few links to frame the day:

• MLK's Nobel Prize biography (and photo, right).
• Wikipedia biography.
The King Center.
• "I Have a Dream" speech (YouTube).
• James Taylor's "Shed a Little Light" and the lyrics.

Have a restful and inspiring day, and let's all find the opportunity to do one unexpected act of kindness on today.

Fiat lux.

January 18, 2010 in Diversity, Good Works, People | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MAILBAG #050109

Email Catchin' up with the inbox:

• Andy Adkins, of the Univ. of Florida (Gainsville) found this amazing update of Captain Sully's seaplane adventure: Download Hudson. It's even better than the ones I previously posted.

• Barkley Court Reporters check in to tell us  that -- as of March -- it has planted 10,000 trees on behalf of clients, as part of its "Green" program that encourages litigators to put transcripts in online repositories include of printing them on paper. Pat Barkley wrote about the program in LTN's Green Law column in July, 2007. 

• Brooke Keyser of RainMaker also checks in with a progress report, about the "Pay it Forward" challenge issued by James Hammond. (We wrote about it last month.) To date, RainMaker has awarded $127,850 in economic assistance funds, of the $1 million it has pledged, she says, and saw a 273% increase in traffic to its website. More than 1,000 firms expressed interest in the program, she says. The first firm to participate is Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman, says RainMaker. 

• Angelique Schaffer of Thomson Reuters reminds me to post this video from the WestBlog produced at this winter's LegalTech New York, (#LTNY) with yours truly pontificating on all things legal tech.

Blogosphere Updates:

• John Grisely reports that that he is building up the resource section of his blog, Mesothelioma Questions. 

• Andreana Pentaris wants you to konw about a new website, LawFirms.com. It devotes articles and resources to a vareity of legal topics, running from criminal defense to bankruptcy, and also has a blog, Legal Research Guides.

• Danielle Walker reports that  E-Lessoned Learned ( eLLblog) has been revamped.

• A.J. Levy -- who  writes the Out of the Box Lawyering blog forwards this post about some creative uses for Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software. He also alerts us to a new blog targeting lawyers who use iPhones.

May 1, 2009 in Diversity, EDD: E-Discovery, Good Works, Green Law, LTNY09, People, Technology, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GREEN YOUR CAREER: A NETWORKING BREAKFAST

FiredThis erratic economy has been tough on everybody, but none more so than the members of our legal technology community who have lost their jobs. It's difficult, scary, and challenging for even the most self-confident professionals.

Our Incisive gang wants to help -- so we decided to team up at LegalTech West Coast and offer a simple, heartfelt gesture: On day 2 (Thursday June 25) we will host a very informal, free "Green Your Career" networking breakfast, from 7:45--8:45 a.m. at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

It will be co-hosted by Law Technology News and law.jobs, with the support of the LegalTech crew, and has a straightforward format:  We're inviting job seekers -- as well as vendors and law firm leaders (even if you do not currently have an available opening).

For the first half-hour, we'll just schmooze together, and enjoy coffee, tea, danish, etc. — i.e., a chance to "work the room."  Then we'll gather at round tables, where at each table a leader of our community will talk about how he or she survived/thrived thru a career transition. Among the scheduled speakers are:

• John Tredennick, who was a litigator partner at Holland & Hart when he spun off Catalyst Respository Systems.
• Tom Collins, former owner of Juris Inc., who survived cancer and now is a murder mystery novelist!
• J. Craig Williams, who shuttered his small firm and joined Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold.
• Mary Mack, renowned counsel at Fios Inc.
• Brad Blickstein, who opened his own consultancy to help businesses serve corporate legal departments, after working in magazine publishing.
• Babs Deacon, who was one of the SPi folks who lost jobs last winter, who is the new director of consulting at Integreon, based in New York.
• Mark Reichenbach, who just joined Capital Legal Solutions after losing his gig at i365.
• John Lipsey, who left law practice to work for legal technology vendors, and now works for Martindale Hubbell Connected. 

The event is FREE -- and all attendees will be invited to stick around and visit our exhibit hall and the Day 2 Keynote Address (immediately following the breakfast) on us.

Job seekers will be encouraged to post their resumes on lawjobs.com, and all firms/vendors who attend will get free access to lawjobs.com (for a limited period, of course).

Again, just a simple concept:  let's provide an hour of inspiration, nurturing, contacts, and networking. 

Please come, whether you need a job, or just want to offer encouragement. And if you are coming to show support, please bring along a gift card (you can pick them up at most supermarkets or drug stores), so we can give a day brightener "party favor" to each job seeker. It can be just a few dollars (or more if you can tithe a bit more generously) -- to a national "chain" such as Starbucks, Target, Macy's, Chevron, Von's, movies, SuperCuts -- you get the picture. Something practical and upbeat that will lift spirits!

(If you can't attend and want to send a gift card, mail them to us c/o Law Technology News, 120 Broadway, 5th floor, NYC 10271.)

Job seekers: Come for warmth, support and new contacts! If you e-mail us at lawtech@incisivemedia.com, we'll have a badge ready for you (and that will help us make sure we have enough coffee and danish). But you can also just show up.

Firms/vendors: If you do have a spot open, what a better place to find great talent? And even if you don't, you might tomorrow -- so bring lots of business cards.

And as an added incentive for technology vendors: We will raffle off a wonderful lunch or dinner with moi (you can even use the word "solution" and I will promise to try not to cringe) where you can tell me about your company's plans, products and services and get a great meal on LTN!

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!  Visit www.legaltechshow for details, or e-mail LTN at lawtech@incisivemedia.com.

LAST but not least: Please help spread the word!  Twitter this! Blog this! Reprint this post freely! Let's get viral! The permalink is http://tinyurl.com/LTWCbkf. Twitter hash: #LTWC.

Update: Great news! The Los Angeles County Bar Association (which offers career resources on its website, has joined us as a co-sponsor of the breakfast!!

April 14, 2009 in Conventions, Meetings, Live Programs, Darwin Watch, Diversity, EDD: E-Discovery, Good Works, People, Social Networking, Tech Turbulence (Economy) , Webinars, Podcasts, Programs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

KEEPING WOMEN IN BIGLAW

Womenwork Another good step towards addressing the unacceptable gender pay and promotion gaps in the legal profession that I have been ranting about since the Census figures came out last fall: Our colleagues at The National Law Journal report that 8 law firm leaders and 7 corporate GC met recently to address how both can better support flex-time and part-time policies to advance women at firms. Women make up only 17% of law firm partners, despite graduating from law school in equal numbers, studies show.

Reports Lynne Marek:

[E]ight top firm partners at the March 27 meeting in Chicago suggested that general counsel focus on flex- and part-time policies when hiring firms and deliver praise when they're satisfied with the programs, according to participants.

The seven general counsel want firms to be more transparent in using the programs and less reluctant to implement them, they said. Although attorneys from both sides support the policies, they have misperceptions and differing positions about what's stymieing more use of the programs, said lawyers who attended the meeting.

Corporate clients need to "state openly that it's important," and that will give firm leaders more backing to do the same, said Dickstein Shapiro Chairman Michael Nannes.

The Project for Attorney Retention, an effort started by a pair of women lawyers who contend that the flex- and part-time policies help retain and advance women at firms, initiated the meeting with lawyers they consider leaders in the area. The project, which is funded by its law firm and corporate members, will bring the lawyers together again in June before issuing a best practices report.


Full story here.

Hat tip to the AmLawDaily.

Update: See also this April 4  NLJ story about diversity progress.

April 2, 2009 in Diversity | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OBAMA SIGNS GENDER PAY BILL

Genderpay A step in the right direction: President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, re gender pay, the first piece of legislation he has signed as president. AP  story here, from MS/NBC. (It includes a video of Obama talking about equal pay during his campaign)

See Mon's rant in November LTN ("Just Equal") about this issue within the legal industry  here.

I continue my challenge to every law firm managing partner, every vendor CEO and every law dept. GC to check their own shops and fix the dismal inequities within our profession. It's a disgrace that we are in such sorry shape, when we should stand tall and be a leader in this obvious and important cause.

Photo courtesy of NBC/AP. (Obama is pictured with Lilly Ledbetter)

January 29, 2009 in Diversity, Good Works, Law Firm Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CALLING ALL CANDIDATES

Diversity_3 Both the LTN editorial advisory board and the LegalTech board currently have no minority members -- and we both are committed to changing that.

If you are interested -- or can suggest someone we should approach -- drop me a note at commonscold@incisivemedia.com. Please note: employees of technology vendors are not eligible for the boards.

November 7, 2008 in Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AN HISTORIC DAY

Berlin_3 NBC's Luke Russert (Tim's son) had a great analogy, about racial bias crumbling last night like the Berlin Wall.

Most of you know that I carefully stay away from partisan politics, because my readers are of all political colors — but you all know that I'm rabid about diversity, a goal which I believe — and hope — crosses all political spectrums.

So whether you voted blue or red yesterday, our legal community can take great pride in the fact that a black lawyer soon will be president of our country -- something that in 1964, when I was naive freshman at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, Calif., sitting in an American history class, I never thought I would see. When Brian Williams pulled up one of those classic American Presidents charts (the kind that is in every grammar school room) and showed the 43 white male faces, it drove the point home more than the many words. In January, the presidency will, for the first time, reflect the fact that the United States of America isn't just the terrain of pale men.

And kudos to John McCain, whose concession speech was gracious and intelligent. We were so lucky to have two strong candidates in this fascinating contest.

Globe_3 Now comes the hard part — but we are all ready.

The only sour note of the day was from California, with the passage of Prop 8 (re: marriage), but hopefully that, too, will change (quickly, please) as our legal community continues leadership efforts to work towards a truly diverse world — where everyone has equal footing on this good earth.

November 5, 2008 in Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MAILBAG #081028

Mailbag12 Checkin' the in-box:

• Andrea Tecce of Navigant Consulting checks in to say that the recent inaugural meeting of the Women's Leadership & Mentoring Alliance, held in NYC, was a big hit, drawing about 50 folks for cocktails and conversation.
The group plans to host quarterly events on the East Coast, between D.C. and NYC, and will collaborate with Chicago and LA chapters.  For details, e-mail her here.

• Kevin Iredell,
our ace marketing director, asks  me to remind everybody that nominations are now open for the 2008 LTN Awards, which honor the IT Champion of the Year, IT Director of the Year, and the best innovations in trials, law firms, corporate law departments and pro bono programs. More 411 here: Download LTN-08-345_LF_NomForm_save.pdf. And don't forget to vote for your favorite vendors, here.

• Aviva Schick says non-profits and schools are using GoodSearch.com to raise money, and GoodShop, an online shopping mall where retailers direct a percentage of every sale to charity.

October 29, 2008 in Awards & Accolades, Diversity, Good Works | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TODAY'S THE DAY

Image_2 Got notes today from Russ Curtis, LTN's photo editor, and Ed Jorcyzk, formerly of MoFo's IT team, both Californians.

Wonderful news from Russ -- he and his partner, Mark Russell, have decided to tie the knot today. CONGRATS.

Here's their letter on why today's the day:

Russ and I have been in a loving relationship for 12 years. Five years ago my sister became pregnant with her fifth child, she was unable to care for her new baby along with her other four children. After a long conversation with my sister we decided that we would raise her youngest child as our own and keep our family together.  wo weeks later Russ and I brought home Elizabeth. I named her after our maternal grandmother who not only lived to be 100 years old but also put herself through college to earn a teaching degree in the 1920’s.  My Gran has always been an inspiration for me. Adopting Elizabeth was such an amazing event for us as we never thought we would be parents.

Three years later my nephew Vance (13 at the time) was having a lot of trouble living with his mom. After a family meeting (Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents) it was decided that I was the best equipped to take over his parenting.  Russ was very supportive and Vance moved in right away. As Vance is Elizabeth’s half brother we were excited that Elizabeth would be raised with one of her siblings.

In 2007, Chris the kids other half brother came to live with us.   He was 12 and had been missing his brother terribly.  When my sister had to work away from home and was not able look after Chris.  We gladly took Chris for the summer and then when he asked to stay we were honored.   We had another extended family meeting after which Chris was allowed to stay with us.

My family is large and very loving and despite the challenges my sister has faced she remains in her children’s lives and an integral part of our family.

Having children has been such a blessing for both of us.  We are honored to have them in our family and are devoted to them. Many people expressed their surprise at our “generosity” but it is these three wonderful children who have enriched our lives beyond any measure. 

We are getting married because we are in love and are devoted to each other.  By being married we hope to provide our children with a more stable family structure.  We want our children to know marriage is a very serious institution in our culture, one that should be honored and taken seriously.  There are many people who do not think love makes a family, and that our family is not valid.  Our family values are based in love, devotion, compassion and respect for all.  We believe marriage is a beautiful and honorable commitment between two people who are unafraid to dedicate their lives to each other come what may.

Please support our family and others like ours by voting NO on Proposition 8 this November 4th.

Thank you for your consideration

Mark Russell & Russ Curtis

(From left to right) Vance 16, Russ (with Lewis), Elizabeth 5, Mark (with Kodi) and Chris 12.

• Ed Jorczyk is also pushing
to defeat Prop 8, and asking his pals to help spread the word:

E-mail everyone you know and care about and get them to help us defeat Prop 8.  Quickly and easily send them a message here.  

Volunteer your time. We are running the largest visibility campaign to get out the vote for Election Day. Will you join us?
Make a donation. The other side is trying to raise $2 million dollars in the next few days. It is absolutely essential in order to win that we match them, to keep our ads on the air. Your donation will help us reach undecided voters who need to hear that Prop. 8 is wrong and unfair.

October 29, 2008 in Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MORE DISCOURAGING NEWS RE: RETENTION

Diversity_2 The National Law Journal continues to cover the difficult issue of diversity within our legal industry.

Following the recent report about gender pay discrepancies comes the discouraging news that minority women are rarely successful in attempts to climb BigFirm partnership ladders, writes reporter Karen Sloan:

The number of women and minority attorneys at major U.S. law firms is creeping up, but those groups remain significantly underrepresented in the partner ranks.

That finding comes from a new report by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), which analyzed 2008 demographics from firms in 46 cities.

Minority women remain the most underrepresented group among law firm partners, according to the report. They currently make up 1.88% of partners at law firms. By contrast, the report found that minority men make up 4.21% of partners, and women overall account for 18.74% of partners.

Elie Mystal writes about it on Above the Law, but what's even more discouraging are many of the  comments that were posted, with the most vitriolic anonymous — of course. Here are some samples:

* Elie: Knock off the reactionary bullshit and try to analyze these statistics in a rational way.
* Might it be that minority women are bad lawyers?
* Can we take a poll re: how many women have cried at work? I've seen several people cry at a biglaw firm and its always a female. Now that is the type of behavior that will keep you from becoming partner.
* Boo hoo hoo.
* Christ, Mystal, I've refrained from joining the chorus until now, but the continuous stream of minority & liberal interest and identity politics stories is REALLY getting old. Lat, in all seriousness, the site is going downhill here, you need to remember what brought readers around in the first place before you bleed us all off with this tripe.

THIS IS A REAL PROBLEM, FOLKS. The bottom line: law firms (like any other company) will ultimately fail if they do not have diverse personnel who reflect the diverse world we live in. And creating work environments that allow everyone to prosper shouldn't just be a luxury for the wise and prescient.  But how to get there is genuinely challenging. It would be a good start to jettison the posturing and listen respectfully to each other.

October 16, 2008 in Diversity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SHAME, SHAME: GENDER GAP FOR PARALEGALS

Pay_2 On our LegalBlogWatch, Bob Ambrogi spotted this report from Chere Estrin, noting that there appears to be a gender gap in paralegal pay (and no, the women are not making more than the men). Here's Bob's commentary:

Pay Inequity for Women Paralegals

Given that women have long outnumbered men among the ranks of paralegals, it would seem safe to assume that here is at least one segment of the legal profession where salaries are blind to gender. Surprisingly, such is not the case. In what Chere Estrin at The Estrin Report calls "the legal field's dirty little secret," it turns out that gender is very much a factor in pay scales for paralegals and legal assistants, with women earning only 93.2 percent of what men earn.

Based on an August report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Estrin writes that women paralegals and legal assistants earned a median salary in 2007 of $42,600. Men earned a median of $45,700. This was not as bad as the gap between female and male lawyers, where women earned a median of $93,600, just 77.8 percent of the median salary for men of $120,400. But still, writes Estrin, this is a field that was originally made up almost entirely of women and where women continue to far outnumber men. "No one can claim ... that men had the upper hand in terms of having a head start in the field."

So, what on earth has happened? Are you telling me that the majority of men do a better job than all women paralegals? So much so, that men will automatically get paid more?  Are you telling me that men are promoted to the manager position faster than women?  Not according to the International Paralegal Management Association whose membership lists approximately 90% of its members as women.

For Estrin, there is only one explanation, and that is that we still face a lack of equality between the genders. While we are less surprised by that in other fields, it is a shock for a field whose genesis is women. As Estrin says, "C'mon, Joe. Say it ain't so."

I think this is nothing short of outrageous, and I challenge every law firm, EDD vendor, and GC to drop everything  -- call HR -- check records and remedy this TODAY.

Update: Turns out, the paralegals and lit support women are in just about the best posture within legal: because the news is far worse about our industry as a whole. The census figures reveal even more grim statistics: across the board, our women are earning 51% of what our men earn. FIFTY ONE PERCENT!!!!! 

Why? Read some of the comments here and on EDD Update -- but one big reason appears to be that too many women don't negotiate effectively, and often take the initial salary offered to them without countering.

September 17, 2008 in Diversity, EDD: E-Discovery, Law Firm Management | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

MAILBAG #082909

21568850 This year is just flying by... I'm realllllly happy to see the first hints of fall, as the humidity drops in NYC and it becomes wonderful again.

Here are a few items from the inbox:

• David Horrigan -- who manages to find some of the most interesting litigation (steady readers will recall his detailed coverage of the woes of Mr. Softee) -- wrote this recent article for The National Law Journal about a lawsuit filed in California by a disabled fan who argued that he is entitled to unobstructed views at NASCAR events. The appellate court agreed. The story was picked up by the gang over at the legal blogging team at The Wall Street Journal here.

• The American Bar Assn held its annual meeting here in NYC last month, and among the events was a session of the Scribes, a legal writers organization, who honored U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Here's West's blog about it, with video.

Brand • Kudos to my alma mater: Also during the ABA meeting, the University of San Francisco Law School had a reception for its alum, where Dean Jeffrey Brand gave a very moving presentation about the school's continuing efforts to create a truly diverse student body -- with pretty breathtaking results. The 2007 entering class of 250 had 40% students of color -- 10% African American, 10% Hispanic, 16% Asian American, 4% other. Those are staggeringly high figures, and as a 1982 alumn, I am very proud of my law school.

Other stats tell of the challenges: Full time tuition next year will be $17,900. Nonetheless, there were 3,584 applications for 190 fulltime and 60 part time spots for the 2008 entering class. More info here.

• Henry Dicker and his team are already gearing up for LegalTech New York early next year, and are especially excited about a new feature that will launch -- the LegalTech Town Hall.
It will be lead by Patrick Oot -- Verizon's director of e-discovery and senior counsel. The idea is that LTNY attendees will be able to submit specific questions for the panel via video blog.
Patrick (a frequent speaker on LTN webinars and a member of LTN's edit board)  The session will be sponsored by Guidance Software and held Monday Feb 2 at 12:45, open to all attendees. More details will be coming soon -- you can check in at www.legaltechshow.com for updates.

Meanwhile, we're also planning a General Counsel Technology SuperSession -- produced by  Counsel Connect's editor Anthony Paonita and moi -- which we expect to record for my Law Technology Now podcasts -- after our huge success with the LegalTech West Coast FutureTech podcasts. Details TK here and on the LTNY site.

• Speaking of Anthony,
he dropped by to tell me about a terrific website, www.flytecomm.com -- which tracks actual flight status. When his family was returning from Italy, and a bunch o' flights were delayed because of nasty thunderstorms, the website had more accurate arrival info than the airline staff. (Why am I not surprised?) FlyteTrax II combines graphics, maps and flight information to show enroute flights, weather and flight listings in one product. Individual flights can be tracked for free here.

• On the third anniversary of Katrina, my thoughts are not straying far from New Orleans today. I'm worried about my pals -- including Connie Nichols, Janine & Bruce Sylvas, Nancy Claypool, Tom O'Connor, Ernie Svenson, and Eric Barefield, the Brown family, et al. — please stay safe and on high ground until Gustav fades. Let's hope Mother Nature is kind this week.

August 29, 2008 in Awards & Accolades, Diversity, Good Works, People | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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• Microsoft Corp. has announced a new Law Firm Diversity Program, aimed at increasing the number of women and minority attorneys within its outside counsel. It's putting money where its mouth is -- by changing its legal fee structure so that each of the company's 17 "Premier Preferred Provider" firms is now eligible for a 2% quarterly or annual bonus, based on whether it achieves "concrete diversity results." GC Brad Smith conceived the plan. "Microsoft is a global company and cannot be effective if it cannot understand and appreciate the interests and needs of the incredibly diverse array of individuals who make up its stakeholder groups," the company asserted in its announcement.

Despite "good intentions," the legal profession has a disappointing track record on attracting and keeping women and minorities, acknowledges Smith. Only 18% of partners at large firm are women, and only 5.4% are minorities, he says.

Internally, Microsoft says it is also holding senior execs accountable for the success of the program, tying 5% of Smith's  (and other legal/corp affairs execs) bonus to diversity improvements of the PPP participants. It also pledged to increase fees to diversity firms by .5%, increase representation of women at more senior levels within its legal/corp affairs ranks by 1% and increase minorities in U.S. posts by .5%. It will also continue to host programs promoting diversity in the profession.

Pardon my cynicism, but those goals seem pretty tiny. I would have liked to have seen the goals be higher than .5% and 1%. But then, given Microsoft's scope and influence, hopefully the pressure will help. It really is shameful that in 2008, our profession has done so poorly in attracting and retaining women and minorities. But it's also not a simplistic issue, and it is loaded with subtleties (many women argue that they do not WANT BigFirmHaveNoLife jobs). But sexism and racism is alive and thriving in the real world, so even if the goals are modest, kudos to Brad Smith Redmond for spotlighting such an important cause. Let's hope his goals are exceeded by double digits!

 

• The delightful Tom Collins reports that his first mystery book, Mark Rollins' New Career & the Women's Health Club, is now available on Amazon.

Lemme give him the mic:

    After selling Juris to Lexis/Nexis and turning over the reins of the blog MorePartnerIncome.com to others, I ventured into a new career as a mystery writer. [The book] is the first of what I expect to be a series of mysteries featuring Mark Rollins as an ex-software entrepreneur turned amateur sleuth.Image003 

    We are not talking about the great American novel. This is the kind of book you buy for airports and travel. It is a fast read that pokes a little fun here and there, but the mystery is a serious one. I enjoyed writing it and believe you will find reading it equally enjoyable.

As for next adventure of Mark Rollins, I had started a second book involving attempts on the life of the rainmaker of a fictional law firm when the project was interrupted by a return of my colon cancer. I had surgery in May and will be dealing with radiation and chemo for the remainder of the year. In spite of this temporary setback, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker should be on internet bookshelves by 2009.

Here's to Tom, with our warmest wishes and thoughts for a SPEEDY recovery and many, many, many more adventures of Mr. Collins & Mr. Rollins.

• Michael Goldblatt checks in to let us know that his Computer Newsletter's August edition contains links to Chevron GC Charles James' keynote address at this summer's LegalTech West Coast. The newsletter targets Louisiana legal professionals, and includes product reviews, mobility tools, trial practice tips, marketing resources, and more. For more info, visit www.lawyerscomputergroup.com.

• Lana Schell, who is active in the Women in E-Discovery Philadelphia chapter,  is participating in a Breast Cancer 3 Day event benefiting the Susan G. Koman for the Cure program. She'll walk 60 miles and would appreciate donations to help her exceed her $2,200 goal. 411 here.

 

August 7, 2008 in Distractions :), Diversity, Good Works, Law Firm Management, People | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

 
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