Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 24

"It's moved a little bit in terms of partners and practice
leaders. But the statistics haven't really budged in the
last 30 years."
LORELIE S. MASTERS
Partner, Hunton Andrews Kurth

"A shockingly high number of women and minorities are draining out of Big
Law," says Hilarie Bass, the 2017-2018 president of the American Bar Association
and former co-president of the Miami-based firm Greenberg Traurig.
A forthcoming survey by the ABA shows that while women make up slightly
more than 50 percent of law school students, they account for less than 20
percent of equity partners nationwide. These numbers, widely quoted as a
benchmark, have changed little even as law firms in the past decade have undertaken diversity initiatives designed to promote women. The consequence is that
the legal profession and justice system suffer because of a lack of gender balance.
"It's moved a little bit in terms of partners and practice leaders. But the statistics
haven't really budged in the last 30 years," says Lorelie S. Masters, a partner
at Hunton Andrews Kurth in Washington, D.C., a former member of the D.C.
Bar Board of Governors, and the 2008-2009 president of the Women's Bar
Association of the District of Columbia, which had launched an initiative
on advancement and retention of women in the law 13 years ago.

FLAWS IN THE SYSTEM
Roberta Liebenberg, a partner at the law firm Fine, Kaplan and Black, R.P.C.
in Philadelphia, provides some insight. She says, "This is really a structural issue
within law firms that are obviously male-dominated.
"You have this hierarchical structure within law firms, which does adversely
impact women. This is not an issue about women lawyers not having enough
ambition, not being willing to work late and take risks. It's really more about
impediments they find along their career that disillusion them and ultimately
contribute to their leaving the profession," Liebenberg says. "We want law firms
to really focus on this issue. We really need to address how we are going to stem
this attrition."
Corrine Parver retired from the practice of law at age 60 and went into academia.
She had been a partner in the law firm Dickstein Shapiro, which was later acquired
by Blank Rome. "Most of my clients were small clients and small businesses in the
health care sector," Parver says. "The firm was focused on going after big business
and big clients. It got to the point where my billing rate was so high that it was
prohibitive for most [of] the clients that I was working with.
"I was a very conservative health care lawyer. There's so much potential in the
health care sector for bucking against laws and regulations because it is a very
highly regulated industry. My work focused on compliance and fraud prevention, so it got to the point where I was just saying 'No, you can't do this, or you
can't do that.' And it just became frustrating," Parver recalls. "Between that and
the whole focus on generating more clients - client development - it just
wasn't fulfilling enough."
She remembers thinking, "If what you are doing in your career stops being
enjoyable, if you stop getting that kind of feedback, why bother?"
24 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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MARCH 2019

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Parver approached American University Washington College of Law about
starting a program on health care law, which she designed and expanded until
her retirement in 2011. "That was fabulous. I loved doing that. I wasn't dealing
with law firms. I wasn't dealing with client matters. It was just enjoyable to work
with the students and create a program out of whole cloth," she says. "It's much
more creative."

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD
Hilarie Bass left her position as co-president of Greenberg Traurig at the end
of 2018 to start a nonprofit organization focused on promoting women and
minorities in the legal profession, the Bass Institute for Diversity & Inclusion.
The effort is a continuation of Bass's work as immediate past president of the
ABA, where she launched a special initiative on women in the law. The ABA
conducted surveys of women; led confidential focus groups in major U.S. cities,
including one in Washington, D.C.; and held a couple of high-level conferences.
A final report is due this month.
"Every study continues to reflect this very material differential in pay, as well
as very incremental progress in equity partnership, so we have to really selfexamine and say, 'What is it that continues to hamper these efforts and what
do we need to change?'" Bass says.
"There has been quite a lot of academic work that will tell us what will, in fact,
help minimize the implicit bias that we know infiltrates every decision that is
made . . . And it's a discussion that everybody has to have, both men and
women," she adds.
"One thing we know is [that] women perceive that as soon as they have a child,
they are perceived as being less committed to work. It's one of those inherent
biases that everyone has because [they] ask the question, 'Well of course when
a woman has a child, isn't that her number one priority?' It sounds great, it
sounds right, but is it really true? I mean most women in Big Law can afford
nannies and all the help they need. I don't know too many women who have
children with the expectation that, once they have children, their career is over,"
Bass says.
Through her new institute, Bass is planning to gather the managing partners
of the Top 100 U.S. law firms this May at Georgetown University in Washington,
D.C., to talk about what works in promoting women's careers and what doesn't,
she says.
"If women choose to retire early because they don't have an economic
necessity to work, good for them. We are not concerned about them. We
are concerned about women who are choosing to leave because they don't
believe it is an even playing field," Bass says. "What we are looking for is to
ensure that for those women who want to have long-term careers, they
have the same opportunities that men do."


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Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Efect
Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 42
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Pro Bono Efect
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 48
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