Women Describe Their Experience Working in Big Law, And It’s Not Pretty

From Law.com authored by Eric Hichman:

“Earlier this month it was revealed that six women are in the process of suing Jones Day over accusations of alleged gender discrimination (to catch up see here and here). The timing of the lawsuits coincides with the end of a yearlong research partnership between the American Bar Association and ALM Intelligence which looked into the experience of women working inside Big Law. Depressingly, the findings from the research project and the details of the lawsuits have much in common.

The lawsuits against Jones Day include detail on a list of alarming behavior including gender stereotyping during pay and promotion decisions and name-calling. In one instance a male summer associate received applause and high-fives after pushing a female summer associate into a pool at an event hosted at a partner’s private home. The lawsuit also describes a female’s maternity leave experience. Upon returning from her first maternity leave she was subjected to a salary freeze and negative reviews. After her second maternity leave, she was told to look for another job. Another suit filed last year claims the firm’s compensation and performance review systems purposely discriminate against females.

The details shared in both of these suits—repercussions when returning from maternity leave, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, unfair review and compensation processes and denied opportunities—unfortunately, are not one-off.

These lawsuits against Jones Day have brought to the forefront a topic that ALM Intelligence and the ABA recently partnered on: women’s experience working in Big Law. Over the course of 2018, the ABA and ALM Intelligence partnered on a research project to better understand the different experiences that women with 15 or more years of legal experience have versus their male counterparts. In addition to collecting data, female attorneys shared, in their own words, their first-hand experience working in Big Law.”

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