Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Are We On The Brink Of A Female ‘Exodus’ From Big Law?

Bloomberg Law, Are We on The Brink of a Female ‘Exodus’ from Big Law?:

Will the pandemic spawn a major female brain drain in law? Or is that just a lot of hooey? ...

According to a new study by the American Bar Association (“Practicing Law in the Pandemic and Moving Forward”), which surveyed 4,200 ABA members (54% men and 43% women) from September 30 to October 11, 2020, the pandemic has been no friend to female lawyers. Though Big Law lawyers have generally worked like dogs during Covid and suffered stress as a result, women have had a far worse time. The ABA study finds that women are going bonkers trying to juggle family and work, so much so that many are thinking of downsizing their careers or dropping out entirely.

“It is clear that the ‘she-cession’ is occurring in the legal industry,” says Katherine Helm, a New York-based partner at Dechert who has three school-age kids. “I have seen both female associates and partners quit outright or downgrade their careers over the past year,” noting the struggles that women with young kids have. She calls the supposed “benefits” of the pandemic “toxic positivity,” that’s “not particularly helpful to boosting morale or encouraging women to stay in legal practice during these trying times.” The reality, she adds, is that “the gender effects in the legal profession appear to be on par with other working class industries.” ...

 The ABA report finds that more than a third (35%) of women are thinking of going part-time, an uptick from previous years. And the hardest hit group are women who represent the next wave of law firm partners: Those with younger kids. The report finds that 53% of women with children age five or younger and 41% of women with children age six to 13 are thinking about going part-time. More alarming, 37% of women are considering quitting entirely because of the pandemic.

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