The Anapata Blog
Recent news from Pillsbury LLP, one of Anapata’s featured law firms, shows its leadership in the realm of technology and the legal profession. Pillsbury recently launched its Virtual World Law Blog, which gives legal analyses of recent events in the technology world. Pillsbury’s 30-person Virtual Worlds and Video Game team, the first team at a major law firm focused exclusively on virtual worlds and video games, writes the blog posts. Each blog post features both a summary of a recent news item involving law and the social gaming and media realm, as well as deep analysis of the implications for the virtual world.
Blog posts balance accessibility and depth. For example, a recent post, titled “French Court Rules eBay is Liable for Counterfeit Sales of Hermes Goods,” quotes the court as saying, “eBay is a ‘publisher of online brokering services’ because it goes beyond ‘purely technical, automatic and passive [site host] services.’” The author then gives clear examples of why the court made this statement, such as that “the court found that eBay suggests purchases based on visitors’ previous purchases.” The combination of technical details and straightforward explanation make the blog a great read for lawyers and laypeople, and the bloggers’ insight into each event’s possible ramifications makes the blog a must-read for tech businesses who want to stay up-to-date on the legal climate in their industry.
This post is third in a series by Roberta Liebenberg, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. Here, Roberta addresses some of the problems that female lawyers of color face by answering the question, “What steps should law firms take to promote the retention of women attorneys of color?”
Attrition is high for all women attorneys. However, survey after survey shows that women attorneys of color have distressingly high rates of attrition, with approximately 86% of women attorneys of color leaving their firms before their seventh year. This high rate of attrition results in very small percentages of women of color in the ranks of equity and non-equity partners. Indeed, while women of color account for about 11% of associates, they account for only 3% of non-equity partners and about 1.4% of equity partners. According to the most recent NAWL survey, even though there is a greater percentage of female associates of color than male associates of color, women of color are less likely to hold the position of non-equity or equity partner than male attorneys of color.
The research performed by the Commission on Women showed that women attorneys of color experience inferior assignments; unfair performance evaluations; lack of access to clients and networking opportunities; inadequate mentoring; and a working environment permeated with acts and comments that reflect explicit or implicit bias. For example, one woman of color reported constantly being asked to attend firm functions and pose for advertising photographs, but never had contact with influential partners outside of these events. The “double bind” of being both a woman and a person of color has proven very daunting and has imposed significant hurdles that are quite difficult to overcome.
The Commission has published two ground-breaking reports that have provided concrete strategies and tips for women of color and their law firms. These publications are entitled Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms and From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful: Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law Firms. Both are available on the Commission’s website. Some of the strategies for law firms to help improve the retention and advancement of women attorneys of color include:
- Development of concrete measurement tools to track how women attorneys of color are progressing in their firms. These metrics should include tracking assignments given to women attorneys of color to determine whether they are being afforded opportunities to work on significant matters for important clients and with influential partners. Moreover, firm management must hold leaders of practice groups accountable for ensuring that work is distributed in an equitable and unbiased way;
- Implementation of neutral and unbiased performance evaluation systems;
- Diversification of firm compensation and attorney evaluation committees to ensure more than just a token woman or minority; and
- Establishment of effective mentoring programs for women attorneys of color. Our research showed that 62% of women attorneys of color felt excluded from formal and informal networking programs. Firms need to ensure that women attorneys of color have equal access to networking and business development opportunities.
To reverse the very high attrition rates, firms must continue to focus increased attention and resources on creating a working environment that is hospitable to and supportive of women attorneys of color.
This post is second in a series by Roberta Liebenberg, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. Here, Roberta responds to the question, “What are the most important things law firms can do to promote retention of female lawyers?”
One of the critical areas of concern of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession is the high rate of attrition of women lawyers. It is important that women receive equal opportunities to handle significant matters for major clients, and also receive fair and unbiased evaluations of their work. In addition, firms must provide business development training and networking opportunities and must also give fair origination credit for the business that women have helped to attract and develop. Equally important, women must be appointed to significant and meaningful leadership and management positions within their firms. It is only by taking such measures that the number of women equity partners, which has remained stagnant at approximately 16% for over two decades, will increase.
The Commission has been working on a joint research project with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (”MCCA”) and the Project for Attorney Retention (”PAR”). That study examined how law firms distribute billing credit and how the distribution of origination credit impacts compensation and the advancement of women lawyers to equity partnership status. In addition, the study examined how law firms can improve their client succession systems to make them more equitable so that women partners have a fair opportunity to inherit clients from senior attorneys as they retire.
The Commission will be working with MCCA and PAR to develop best practices for firm compensation, origination credit and succession policies. Some of the best practices include:
- De-emphasize the role of the billable hour in determining compensation, and give greater emphasis to the quality of the attorney’s work and the myriad contributions made by the attorney both to clients and to the administration of the firm;
- Review performance evaluation systems to ensure that implicit bias does not play a role in assignments, performance reviews, compensation and partnership decisions;
- Make compensation criteria more transparent;
- Give credit for compensation purposes to attorneys who have excelled in mentoring and training women lawyers and those who have helped women in their business development; and
- Give women attorneys equal opportunities and resources to participate in client development and networking activities.
Also, since women generally shoulder the lion’s share of family responsibilities, firms must implement and stand behind part-time and flex-time policies that allow women to balance their professional and family responsibilities without any fear of stigma or adverse consequences. While most law firms have written policies for reduced work hour arrangements, less than 6% of attorneys actually avail themselves of these options. Significantly, 75% of those who opt for such reduced schedules are women. Unfortunately, according to the 2009 NAWL Survey, almost 100% of the part-time lawyers who were terminated during the economic downturn have been women.
In order to reduce attrition, the leadership of law firms must send a strong message that they are truly committed to increasing the number of women equity partners, as well as increasing the number of women in their top leadership and management positions. Firms must implement metrics that will help analyze and eliminate the wide gap in compensation between women lawyers and their male counterparts (a gap that widens with seniority). Finally, firms must ensure that women attorneys who avail themselves of flexible work arrangements are afforded equal opportunities for advancement.
It is my honor to introduce a series of several blog posts by Roberta Liebenberg. Roberta D. Liebenberg is a senior partner at Fine Kaplan and Black in Philadelphia, where she focuses her practice on class actions, antitrust and complex commercial litigation. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Catholic University Columbus School of Law, magna cum laude, where she was the Notes Editor of the Law Review. Thereafter, she served as a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Since August, 2008, Ms. Liebenberg has served as Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, whose first Chair was Hillary Rodham Clinton. In addition, she chaired the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession from 1995 to 1997. She also served as Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee from 2005-2007.
Ms. Liebenberg was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to the Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, and serves as Chair of its Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims Committee. Previously, she was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to its Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System, served as Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Special Committee to Coordinate the Bar’s Response to Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System, as well as its Gender Fairness Task Force. She also served on the Advisory Board of “DirectWomen,” an ABA initiative to enable women lawyers to prepare for service as directors on corporate boards.
Ms. Liebenberg is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has written and lectured extensively on a wide range of subjects, including antitrust, class actions, consumer financial services litigation and expert witness testimony, and issues pertaining to gender, racial and ethnic fairness in the justice system.
Hillary Clinton and Rep. Rosa DeLauro introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in January 2009. The House passed the bill on January 9, 2009. The bill is pending in the Senate. In this post, Roberta Liebenberg responds to the question, “You wrote a piece [for the ABA Journal] advocating the passing of the Paycheck Fairness Act. What loopholes in the Equal Pay Act will the Paycheck Fairness Act close? Are there other legal steps that need to be taken to ensure pay equity?”
Despite the passage by Congress of the Equal Pay Act almost 50 years ago, there continues to be a wide wage disparity between men and women. This wage differential affects women at every educational and occupational level, including women lawyers. This pay gap is particularly acute for women of color, including women attorneys of color. According to research by the ABA Commission on Women and the National Association of Women Lawyers (”NAWL”), women attorneys of color make less than male attorneys and white female attorneys.
In January 2009, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, H.R. 12, which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by eliminating certain loopholes and amending outdated provisions that have prevented the fulfillment of Congressional intent to eliminate pay discrimination on the basis of sex.
In particular, the Paycheck Fairness Act would place women on the same level playing field as those who have experienced pay discrimination on the basis of their race or national origin. Instead of being allowed to recover only “back pay,” under the Paycheck Fairness Act a prevailing plaintiff would be allowed to recover compensatory as well as punitive damages. These are more effective deterrents to prevent pay discrimination. Also, the Act would allow plaintiffs to bring class actions under the “opt-out” provisions of Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Once again, this procedural device is already available to other victims of pay discrimination, and it should be available to women as well.
Also, the Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by clarifying the “factor other than sex” affirmative defense, would prohibit employer retaliation for sharing of salary information by most employees, and would modify the provision concerning wage comparisons for employees working at the same “establishment” in order to reflect modern workplace realities. The Act would also reinstate the collection of certain data by the Department of Labor and require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to take actions that will enhance its ability to detect Equal Pay Act violations.
With over 71 million women in the workforce, many of whom are their family’s sole breadwinner, pay equity is long overdue. It is imperative that the Paycheck Fairness Act be adopted by the Senate. I urge readers to contact their Senators and request them to vote in favor of passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
One of our interns, Cathy, is heavily involved with issues around the LGBT community. We asked her to contribute on LGBT issues for our blog, which we haven’t spent much blog time on up until now. Enjoy her informative post–
Trans-identified people continue to face obstacles to employment, especially in the legal profession. The American Bar Association amended its Goal IX, which addressed diversity, in 2007 to read, “To promote full and equal participation in the legal profession by minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities.” In 2008, the organization incorporated Goal IX into its new, more general Goal III, “Eliminate bias and enhance diversity”. Goal III’s sub-goals are, “Promote full and equal participation in the association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons,” and “Eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system.” Despite the ABA’s advocacy for inclusion of people of all gender identities, many law firms do not include gender identity in their anti-discrimination policies. According to the Human Rights Campaign, while 79% of AmLaw 200 law firms prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, only 56% prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Trans-identified people, like the rest of the LGBT community, also have no federal protection against employment discrimination.
Because there is little formal protection for transgender people, transgender and gender non-conforming people can face intense discrimination. According to Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, “I think we’re still very much at the phase where most corporations and law firms would simply not consider a transgender candidate if they knew.” This may be especially true in law firms because, according to the American Bar Association, LGBT lawyers and law firms may be sensitive to the possibility that their sexual orientation or gender expression may put off clients. This fear can be especially salient to trans- lawyers, who may not be able to avoid being “outed” at work due to the complexity of getting legal documents that match their gender expression and sometimes due to employment records from before they transitioned.
Once a law firm hires a trans- lawyer, the lawyer may still face challenges at work. For example, according to the Human Rights Campaign, only 8% of AmLaw 200 firms provide transgender inclusive health insurance benefits, even though the American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2008 supporting such benefits. This number is on-par with Fortune 500 companies, of which 8% provide trans-inclusive health benefits, but significantly below Fortune 100 companies, of which 22% provide trans-inclusive health benefits. However, the law community is showing improvement; in 2000 only 1 AmLaw 200 firm provided health insurance for trans health issues, while in 2009 16 had such benefits.
Despite these challenges, some law firms find diverse gender expression to be a positive attribute. For example, M. Dru Levasseur, currently of Lambda Legal, told the American Bar Association, “A lot of my jobs outed me, so I said on my cover letter that I was a transgender attorney. During an interview, one person asked, ‘Do you really think it’s a good idea to tell people you’re a transgender attorney?’ I said, ‘Yes, I do. In fact, I think it’s a strength that I’ve gone through the challenge of transitioning, and I’m still a great attorney and have achieved in spite of all the extra stress.” According to the ABA, Levasseur got a job offer on the spot.
American Bar Association, 2007. Web. 4 May 2010. <http://meetings.abanet.org/webupload/commupload/CC103270/relatedresources/IRRsogipolicies73-07.doc>.
“ABA Mission.” American Bar Association. ABA, Aug 2008. Web. 4 May 2010. <http://www.abanet.org/about/goals.html?gnav=aztopics>.
Filisko, G.M. “Just Like Everyone.” ABA Journal 1 Feb 2010: n. pag. Web. 4 May 2010. <http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/just_like_everyone/>.
“Transgender-Inclusive Benefits for Employees and Dependents .” Human Rights Campaign. HRC, n.d. Web. 4 May 2010. <http://www.hrc.org/issues/workplace/benefits/transgender_inclusive_benefits.htm>.
“Workplace Discrimination: Policies, Laws and Legislation.” Human Rights Campaign. HRC, Sep 2009. Web. 4 May 2010. <http://www.hrc.org/issues/workplace/equal_opportunity/about_equal_opportunity.asp>.
Use the (free) resources. There are so many online resources available to help groups succeed and create a web presence. Simply by putting your group on the internet – you reach thousands of people that might want to help, meet, or hire you.
Quick Tip #5: Build a profile on a professional network and also build a website. Even better, link the professional profile as your website.
Taking advantage of online resources is the catalyst to receiving all other benefits from your group – building your brand, being a strong leader, connecting your network, and collecting your funding. The majority of groups have no web presence. And the groups that are online only have half-solutions. Most groups use Facebook as a place to organize events and send messages. A simple search brings up pages for over 500 law student identity groups. However, many of these pages are not up-to-date or designed for recruiters and professional contacts. Some groups pay for a website to be made. In doing so, they do build a professional presence but their webpage remains static and pointless for the actual group members. The long tail of student organizations use a mishmash of tools including Yahoo! Groups, Survey Monkey, Google Groups, Google Documents, and most popular, a simple e-mailing list.
To date, there has been no tool that provides (a) group management tools (events, mailing lists, document sharing), (b) a professional web presence, and (c) access to recruiters. Anapata does all this– Anapataʼs new features include online institutional memory for student organizations, personalized job recommendations, introductions to diverse professional contacts, and real-time career updates catered to each individualʼs professional interests. Firms use Anapata to contact groups and students because they want a centralized place for diverse law talent.
Even when other line items are being slashed from law firm budgets, law firms are still spending thousands of dollars on diversity recruiting this year. You have a secret weapon. Show off your diversity student group — and enhance your job hunt.
We’re thrilled to introduce to you Irma Khoja, a 2L from the University of Miami School of Law. As the winner of our Anapata Diversity Scholarship Contest, Ms. Khoja impressed us with her leadership, passion, and eloquence around technology, the legal profession, and academic excellence. We took some time to ask Irma to contribute her thoughts to out blog, below you’ll find her advice to entering diverse 1L’s. Just in time for admission decisions, so new law admits, take note!
To the incoming 1Ls,
Take advantage of the available resources at your school so that you can discover your own “legal identity.” As a 1L, you will be exposed to an immense amount of information, both inside and outside of the classroom. This may be overwhelming at times; however, it is important to stay true to yourself and not feel pressured to conform. Your law school is likely to have access to many resources and you should actively seek these out and participate in programs that will help you determine which legal field interests you so that you can pave the way towards your career. These resources may range from joining on-campus student organizations to visiting the law school’s career center or speaking with the law school’s full time and adjunct faculty. Each resource can give you insightful perspective and help you determine how you can succeed in the classroom and make an impact in your community.
As students who enhance the diversity of your school, you have the added advantage of bringing unique insight and experience to your law school community. If there is no student organization that meets your needs, you can certainly garner support and work with the administration in establishing such an organization. If there is a class you want to take, but is not offered, you should speak to your dean and see how you can incorporate new subject matter into the curriculum. At the very least, you may be able to invite a professor to speak on the subject if a course cannot be developed in the immediate future. The point is, if a resource does not exist at your school, it does not mean that your law school experience should be any less compared to your peers across the country. Take the initiative and be a proactive student. This is how you can stand out from the crowd and make a meaningful difference in your own education as well as others.
Go for the money. There is money out there to help you and support your group. Micro-loans are taking off, so why not micro-sponsorships? $100 – $500 sponsorships from recent alums are a win-win for everyone. Your group can create choices for alums to be contributing sponsors towards networking receptions, mentor lunches, or scholarships. Local firms are also invested in sponsoring diversity organizations and developing relationships. Do some research about what firms have sponsored chapters of your organization at other schools, or find out what diversity organizations on campus have done to secure their sponsorships. This is a great networking tool for working with firms and other student leaders.
Get online and be curious- you can find group leaders from organizations like yours through Anapata, then contact them to find out who their sponsors are, and how they built those sponsor relationships.
Quick Tip #4: Add a “Sponsor Our Group” button to your website. (If you donʼt have a website, see Quick tip #5 in our next post)
Today is the launch of a fantastic set of resources for those looking for to promote diversity in the legal workplace, from the Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence. Meg Satrom of CCIE has kindly written this guest blog piece that introduces the new CCIE website and material designed for law firms and organizations. Enjoy!
A New Model for the New Millennium: How Legal Organizations Are Working to Create More Inclusive Workplaces
Recent articles (see AmLaw Daily, Above the Law) have pointed to a decline of diversity efforts in legal organizations. These articles, coupled with a slow to recover economy, provide a fairly bleak picture for diverse law students and diverse attorneys alike.
Yet, these articles have failed to account for the work many individual groups are doing to keep these issues at the forefront. For example, while other communities throughout the country used the economy to put diversity issues on the back burner, Denver’s legal community pooled their resources to create a nonprofit — Colorado Campaign for Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) — to ensure that diversity efforts would be sustained. Law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, legal nonprofits, government law offices, and bar associations came together to support a new paradigm – inclusiveness – that will provide real solutions to the diversity dilemma.
Inclusiveness efforts, when coupled with diversity efforts, aim to solve the problems causing higher attrition rates among diverse attorneys. Where past diversity efforts have largely focused on compositional diversity without reference to the reasons why recruitment and retention efforts struggle, inclusiveness efforts focus on ways the organization can value the perspectives and contributions of all people. They strive to incorporate the needs and viewpoints of diverse communities into the culture of the organization.
Because the legal community in Denver values a broadened focus on inclusiveness, CCIE has been able to create and publish the legal industry’s first-of-its-kind manual on how to create inclusive workplaces. It offers a new model for advancing organizational inclusiveness and a detailed 6-step process tested by 10 Denver legal organizations, including firms, corporate law departments, and government offices, to help create cultures of inclusion. This new model and the manual, Beyond Diversity: Inclusiveness in the Legal Workplace, are now available for legal organizations throughout the country, including law schools. Students may register for free.
Please visit www.legalinclusiveness.org to learn more about how the legal profession is working to change its image.
This is the first of many blog posts which will feature Anapata students, their accomplishments, passions, and insights. We’re starting off the series with a piece about one of our recently announced Anapata Diversity Scholars, Asari Aniagolu from Columbia School of Law.
Asari attended Georgetown as an undergraduate, and is currently a 3L interested in Litigation. Her references speak glowingly of her, calling Asari a “proven problem solver and natural mediator.”
You can learn more about Asari on her Anapata profile, read more from her recommenders, and view her practice area and geographic preferences.
I would urge all diverse 1Ls to understand and constantly promote their personal brand of who they want to be as an attorney. A personal brand includes one’s classwork and grades but more importantly one’s attitude toward collaboration with classmates, volunteering spirit, and networking and creative problem-solving skills. Everyday, every assignment, every conversation is a chance to tailor one’s brand and make an indelible mark on whatever arena of the legal system in which a student is interested.