The Old Boys Club

Despite the fact that Beyonce proclaims that girls run the world, the male-dominated legal field still has a way to go.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 only 31.9% of lawyers were women. The Center for Women in Government and Civil Society found that only 23% of federal judgeships were held by women in 2011; at 27% things aren't much better at the state level. These sobering statistics can be found in nearly every sector of law practice from in-house counsel to private practice.

Not only are professional women underrepresented in the legal field, they are also underrepresented in the female media. The disconnect between women as women and women as professionals is apparent in marketing to women, particularly to young professional women. Open a Glamour magazine and the work wear promoted is more appropriate for a night on the town than the board room. Step into a department store, and the suits are made for an older woman's body, not a childless woman under 30. Heaven forbid you want a professional bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag or the briefcase my dad used in the 90s. Where is the middle ground? Why aren't the women in the media and fashion promoting products, designers, and trends that match the caliber of the modern young woman's professional success? You can't sweep us under the mat and pretend we don't exist forever.

With more women in the legal field, the tides are bound to change. Hopefully, more female lawyers means more women with the power to change the landscape. Already great strides have been made to allow women to be both good lawyers and good mothers with the increasing availability of telecommuting and flex-time policies. Although a small consolation, female lawyers make closer to their male counterparts than women in other careers (86.6% and 77% of male salaries respectively). Further, Catalyst.com, a website focused on expanding opportunities for women in the workplace, has found that more and more women are entering the legal field so workplace equality may not be too far away. We are nearly at 50%!

Our generation of law student and young lawyer is fortunate to be able to stand on the the shoulders of giants to carved the path for our success generations ago. We have the likes of Sandra Day O'Conner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Charlotte E. Ray who obtained admission to law school by disclosing only her initials in her application and became the first African-American female lawyer in 1872, and the love-her-or-hate-her Gloria Allred. It is our job to finish the work these women began by being amazing lawyers and even more amazing women.

We are young. We are feminine. We are going to raise the bar.

Sources: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-law-us#footnote11_5zua7wehttp://www.pay-equity.org

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