Red Bee Principals Stephanie Scharf and Roberta (“Bobbi”) Liebenberg, along with Paulette Brown of MindSetPower, have co-authored a groundbreaking report for the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, entitled “Legal Careers of Parents and Child Caregivers: Results and Best Practices from a National Study of the Legal Profession.” The report was recently featured in The American Lawyer citing the deep primary research and survey findings.
This impressive 158-page Report sets forth extensive data that the authors analyzed from surveying over 8,100 lawyers around the country in all practice settings, and by conducting 10 national focus groups. Although there have been articles, reports, and surveys concerning the status of women lawyers generally, this Report is the first comprehensive national study specifically focused on the career experiences of women lawyers with children.
The Report carefully examines the daunting challenges faced by women lawyers who are parents. Over time, a substantial percentage of mothers in the profession suffer a “motherhood penalty,” including unfounded criticisms about their competence and commitment; less access to business development opportunities, and sponsors and mentors; significant differences in the types of matters they are assigned; substantially lower income; and a host of other day to day experiences that are akin to career “death-by-a-thousand-cuts.” The Report shows that current workplace policies and practices too often impede the ability of women lawyers who are mothers to balance their professional and family obligations, leading to very different pathways in the practice of law and different professional outcomes. In essence, women lawyers with children are subjected to many adverse work experiences that need to be addressed and ameliorated if legal organizations want to retain a broad range of talented and experienced women.
The Report sets forth a number of suggested best practices and policies that legal employers can implement to help ensure the retention, promotion, and advancement of women lawyers with children, and open opportunities for promotions into leadership roles and senior positions in law firms, corporations, government, and not-for-profits. The Report is a must-read to help create a level playing field for women lawyers with children in all practice settings.
The Red Bee Group is very proud to have conducted this research and prepared the Report, which shines a much-needed spotlight on the unique barriers confronting women lawyers who are parents. For more information or to understand how The Red Bee Group can help design surveys or policies tailored for your workplace to address the issues raised in the Report, please contact Stephanie Scharf or Roberta Liebenberg.