Wednesday, February 11, 2009

American Bar Association offers Woman Lawyers “Blueprint” for Success

From the American Bar Association:

Lawyers, whether law firm practitioners or in-house counsel, are working hard to improve the status of women in the profession. Law students had been an untapped, competitive pressure point to improve the retention and promotion of women in the profession. But, in 2006, that changed when Flex-Time Lawyers LLC co-sponsored a forum with the New York City Bar Committee on Women in the Profession that focused on educating women law students on how to select women-friendly employers and the key ingredients for success. Attendees left the forum with “The Cheat Sheet,” a guide to selecting, creating, and ensuring a women-friendly employer (view “The Cheat Sheet online at

When we introduced The Cheat Sheet, we had a number of goals in mind: First, educate women law students on how to avoid the traditional stumbling blocks of their female predecessors before those same patterns repeat themselves. Second, capitalize on the power in numbers as a means to shape how law firms and other legal employers refocus their women-friendly efforts and programs. Third, create a venue for information-sharing by inviting all of the interested parties to the forum and having them in the same room to brainstorm and play a role. Fourth, create an open dialogue and external motivation among legal employers and law schools to compete on these issues to attract, retain, and promote the most talented women students and practitioners. Fifth, initiate a reverberating effect across the country.

The Cheat Sheet provides questions for women law students to consider as indicia of a legal employer’s commitment to the retention and advancement of women. The questions are not meant as a script but as a guide to enable women law students to decipher an employer’s attention to such issues as female representation, partnership and advancement, mentoring, leadership, workplace flexibility, and business development. It also offers suggestions for additional steps women law students could take once an offer is in hand. For legal employers, those same questions have been used as a checklist to determine employers’ strengths and weaknesses to improve the future role of women. Additionally, The Cheat Sheet provides tips for legal employers and law schools and a resources section that lists key Web sites providing information on work/life balance and women’s issues in the law.

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