We were talking about the issues that face women lawyers and the fact that despite women being 50% of law school classes, there’s tremendous attrition with women leaving the practice of law completely. And also tremendous inequities within the legal profession for how women are paid and their ability to rise up within law firms.
When we talk about the sort of benevolent exclusions, what we see are people making decisions for the woman lawyer on what she’s going to be participating in. Men in the firm will say something like, “well, you know, she’s not going to be interested in this file. It’s too much work and she has a young family or you know, she just had a baby. I’m not going to ask her to be on this committee because it would be too much work.”
So what I always tell people is if you’re making a decision for the lawyer, you have to rethink that the lawyer is a competent, capable person that you are entrusting with the work of your clients.
In other words, this is somebody you can trust to make good and sound decisions. And because of that, you should let them make their own decisions on a particular file, a meeting, a speaking opportunity, a committee, any other opportunity you would normally offer them, let them decide if it’s something they want to participate in and maybe they’ll surprise you. Maybe it’s the opportunity that had been dying for, maybe they’ve been wanting to work on that file and they’re willing to make whatever arrangements they need to do to be now the point person on that file. Or maybe they’ve always wanted to speak at the state bar.
These are things that we need to let the lawyers themselves decide and not be sort of paternalistic in preventing them from even considering those opportunities. [02:00]