Why Are Women Leaving The Law Profession?

By Kristina Davis
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In an effort to combat women leaving the law profession, the American Bar Association has launched an initiative to determine why women are leaving law firms — or saying goodbye to the profession altogether.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

For decades, roughly equal numbers of men and women have been graduating from ranked U.S. law schools. And for the first time last year, women outnumbered men in enrollment.

But, according to the American Bar Association, women make up only 36 percent of practicing attorneys.

So where are all the female lawyers?

They are leaving — many of them within five years of entering private practice.

When it comes to who is at the top, only 18 percent of equity partners at law firms are female.

“One of the reasons is there aren’t that many women left at that point,” Hilarie Bass, president of the American Bar Association, said in an interview during a recent visit to San Diego.

In an effort to combat the phenomenon, the American Bar Association has launched an initiative to determine over the next year why women at various stages in their careers are leaving law firms — or saying goodbye to the profession altogether.

Bass and other attorneys who have been studying the issue predict they know many of the reasons why women leave — discrimination, lack of work-life balance, childcare, success fatigue, sexual harassment.

And while these are issues that have challenged professional women for decades, experts are asking whether there is something unique to the law firm culture that makes it particularly unfriendly to female advancement.

They’ve heard the anecdotes. Women in their 50s who are at what should be the peak of their careers saying they feel invisible. Younger associates who complain they are given less interesting, more simplistic work than men and struggle to meet their billable-hour requirements. Women who feel they have to work harder to gain the same success as men and have reached burnout.

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