Too Many Senior Women Are Leaving the Profession

From Law Practice Today authored by Roberta Liebenberg:

“I often describe myself as a “unicorn” in the legal profession. I have been practicing law for more than 43 years, and I still have a very active, full-time practice. I love being a lawyer and feel very fortunate to work on so many interesting and challenging cases on behalf of my clients and to serve as a problem solver for them. My primary practice area is antitrust law, a field that has been and continues to be overwhelmingly male. The field of antitrust turned out to be the perfect niche for me, as it involves complex factual, economic, and legal issues; affords the opportunity to represent plaintiff classes and corporate defendants in civil and criminal cases, and enables me to learn about a wide range of industries.

I also am fortunate to have worked in two big law firms; started the first women-owned law firm in Philadelphia that concentrated in class actions and complex commercial litigation, and practiced for the past 18 years with a nationally recognized antitrust boutique. The many paths I have taken during my career have formed a mosaic that has given me both great personal satisfaction and professional fulfillment.

However, it is painfully obvious to me that my experience may be rather unique, as too few senior women lawyers remain in the profession. This observation was confirmed by the results of a new study by Stephanie Scharf and me as part of former ABA President Hilarie Bass’s groundbreaking “Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in Law.” Our findings demonstrate that more women lawyers who have been practicing at least 20-25 years are leaving the practice of law, particularly from private practice, at a time when, like their male counterparts, they should be in the prime of their careers in terms of business development, leadership roles and earning power.”

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