Resolution Endorsing the Call to Action and Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has historically demonstrated its commitment to promoting equal opportunity for full participation at all levels in the legal profession by both men and women lawyers;

WHEREAS, in 1986, the Philadelphia Bar Association formed the Committee on Women in the Profession ("Committee") to study and recommend action on issues affecting women lawyers and to promote the advancement of women in the profession;

WHEREAS, in 1998, the Committee developed and the Board of Governors adopted the Statement of Goals of Philadelphia Law Firms and Legal Departments for the Retention and Promotion of Women;

WHEREAS, the Committee determined that although the percentages of men and women lawyers in entry level positions at law firms and corporate legal departments are nearly equal, a gap between men and women lawyers develops and expands as they progress through their legal careers, resulting in a trend where women are underrepresented and men continue to predominantly compose the partnership and general counsel ranks;

WHEREAS, the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession October 2006 survey showed that while women make up over 30% of the national lawyer population, women make up only 17% of partners, 16.6% of Fortune 500 General Counsels, and 15.7% of Fortune 1000 General Counsels;

WHEREAS, the 2006-2007 National Association of Law Placement Directory of Legal Employers reported that while women make up approximately 50% of law school graduates and 44.33% of associates at large firms, women make up on 17.9% of partners at large firms;

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession Annual Report Cards confirm that local statistics track the national statistics;

WHEREAS, the Committee determined that the majority of women lawyers leave their law firm practice before making partner and by their tenth year of practice;

WHEREAS, a National Association of Law Placement 2006 study reported a 78 % attrition rate for women associates working at a law firm for less than six years;

WHEREAS, the Committee recognized that decisive action is required to address issues related to the retention and promotion of women lawyers;

WHEREAS, the Committee developed a Sub-Committee comprised of members and leaders of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations, representing a wide variety of experience, including partners and associates of small, medium and large law firms, in-house corporate counsels, and lawyers with government experience, to address these issues;

WHEREAS, the Sub-Committee reviewed data and reports on the profession, studied initiatives of other bar associations across the country, studied the initiatives and practices of other professions, and drew on its members' experiences and the experiences of many great lawyers;

WHEREAS, the Sub-Committee developed the attached Best Practices with the following goals:

  • Full and Equal Participation of Women: To remove any barriers to full and equal participation of women attorneys in all levels of the work, responsibilities and rewards;
  • Retention of Women: To improve the retention rate of women attorneys;
    • Promotion of Women: To improve the rate at which law firms promote or invite women attorneys to partner status, and to management and leadership positions;
    • Self-Analysis of and Accountability for the Retention and Promotion of Women: To encourage law firms to conduct critical self audits and evaluations of whether they are achieving the above goals, and to provide measures of accountability in the process of implementing and aspiring to the Best Practices;

    WHEREAS, the Sub-Committee developed the Call to Action so that law firms throughout the city would implement the Best Practices.

    NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED that the Board of Governors endorses the 2007 Call to Action and Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys.

    AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLED that the Chancellor and the Women in the Profession Committee are authorized to publicize and distribute the Call to Action and Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys and to work to promote their adoption.

    AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLED that law firms and other employers of lawyers will be encouraged to review their own practices and adopt policies such as those set forth in the Call to Action and Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys.

    PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
    BOARD OF GOVERNORS
    ADOPTED: SEPTEMBER 27, 2007