An article came across my desk the other day about the recently published report by the National Association of Women Lawyers regarding the retention and promotion of women in law firms. This report was of special interest to me since I had recently left a law firm for an in-house counsel position – something I have observed my contemporaries doing for some time.
This report concluded that not much has changed for women in the top 200 law firms since NAWL first started tracking this information eight years ago. Compensation, leadership roles, rainmaking, and equity partnership remain stagnant for women. The greatest percentage of women hold the lowest positions in law firms (associates and staff attorneys) while the lowest percentage of women hold the highest positions in law firms (equity partner). “This year’s results reinforce that women in private practice continue to face barriers to reaching the highest positions in their firms – as equity partners and members of governance committees,” said Stephanie Scharf, report author, past president of the NAWL Foundation and a partner at Scharf Banks Marmor LLC. While the number of female law students has consistently been equal to or slightly greater than the number of male law students, women are grossly underrepresented in the leadership positions in law firms. The ultimate question is what are we as a legal community going to do about this?
While there is no right or wrong answer, mentoring and networking can go a long way in helping women feel like they are not alone in their personal and professional lives. DTCI wants to make this even easier by expanding the available network of strong and successful women lawyers. DTCI has created the Women in the Law Division, and I am honored to serve as the division’s first chairperson. This new division will help women network, mentor, be mentored, market and address the ever-present work/life balance issues they face in all stages of their professional lives. Our events are designed to allow members to speak freely regarding the professional and personal obstacles they face as women in the legal profession.
Please join us for the division’s kickoff event April 17 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Osteria Pronto in the JW Marriott located at 10 S. West Street in Indianapolis. The event features a panel discussion with Judge Heather Welch of Marion Superior Court, Julia Gelanis of Frost Brown Todd LLC, and Michele Calderon Johns of Indiana University Health and Indiana University Health Risk Retention Group. These women will share the secrets of their success, how they have thrived in the practice of law, and the valuable lessons they learned along the way. The event will offer networking opportunities beginning at 11 a.m. and a panel discussion after a delicious family-style lunch. The cost is $50 per person and registration is available now at www.dtci.org.
Join us as a member of this new division and kick off your heels at our inaugural luncheon on April 17. Let’s see what we can do to change the statistics.•
Ms. McOmber is an attorney with Indiana University Health Risk Retention Group. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.