Statement of Goals of Philadelphia Law Firms and Legal Departments1 for the Retention and Promotion of Women

I. Introduction

Even though women have entered the legal profession in increasing numbers over the past two decades, women lawyers continue to be underrepresented at the higher levels of the profession. It is difficult to account for all of the discrepancy between the number of men and women entering the profession and those achieving full participation in the profession. To the extent that women encounter obstacles based upon stereotypes and gender-based considerations, correction is essential, not only because it is professionally responsible, but also because discrimination is illegal. As leaders of the Philadelphia legal community, the signatories can and will use their best efforts to ensure that the attitudes and practices at law firms and legal departments promote the full representation and participation of women at all ranks of the profession.

Therefore, each signatory to the Statement of Goals of Philadelphia Law Firms and Legal Departments for the Retention and Promotion of Women (the "Statement of Goals") agrees to engage in critical self-evaluation to identify and correct any attitudinal barriers or organizational bias impeding women's progress within the signatory's law firm or legal departments.

II. Statement of Goals for Retaining and Promoting Women to All Levels in Law Firms and Legal Departments

EACH SIGNATORY PLEDGES TO PURSUE THE FOLLOWING GOALS:

(a) Full and Equal Participation of Women: To remove any barriers to full and equal participation of women in all levels of the work, responsibilities and rewards of the law firm or legal departments.

(b) Retention: To improve the rate of retention of women attorneys employed by the law firm or legal departments.

(c) Promotion: To improve the rate at which women are promoted or invited to partnership in each law firm and to senior counsel status in each legal department.

We believe that these goals are interrelated and mutually dependent because, if women are full participants and assured of equal opportunity to achieve their potential, women will become vested in furthering the success of their law firm or legal departments and, over the long term, attain equal representation.

III. Guidelines for Pursuing the Goals of the Retention and Promotion of Women Lawyers to Partnership and Management Positions

EACH SIGNATORY PLEDGES TO PURSUE THE GOALS OF INCREASING RETENTION AND PROMOTION RATES FOR WOMEN LAWYERS BY CRITICALLY EXAMINING AND, WHERE NECESSARY, MODIFYING THE FOLLOWING COMPONENTS OF EMPLOYMENT FOR LAWYERS:

(a) Interviews: Avoiding inappropriate inquiries about personal lives, childbearing plans and physical appearance.

(b) Attitudes: According women lawyers the same presumption of competence, commitment and ultimate success as is accorded men lawyers.

(c) Opportunities: Ensuring that the opportunities for women lawyers are equivalent to those provided to men lawyers in the assignment of work necessary to develop skills and acquire experience for success and achievement; access to training, guidance and mentoring; opportunity to develop formal and informal relationships with partners, senior counsel and clients; and participation in firm governance and management of legal departments.

(d) Work Environment: Exercising diligence and sensitivity to ensure that the work environment is as hospitable to women lawyers as to their male colleagues by according high priority to principles of equality and anti-discrimination; prohibiting office functions at clubs that discrim- inate on the basis of gender; eliminating obstacles based upon stereotypical and gender-based views of women; and adopting a policy on sexual harassment.

(e) Compensation and Other Privileges of Employment: Awarding compensation and other privileges of employment to women lawyers without regard to gender.

(f) Standards for Retention and Promotion: Employing consistent and publicized standards for promotion that accurately and fairly assess the candidate's ability to practice at the level of partner or senior counsel, by: emphasizing observable past performance as well as the attorney's capacity to obtain and retain clients; being respectful of diverse, successful practice styles which complement the law firm and legal departments; and adopting a long-term perspective that balances attorneys' family and other societal/social responsibilities with the responsibilities and objectives of the law firm or legal departments.

(g) Process for Retention and Promotion: Conducting written evaluations in a candid manner and on a sufficiently frequent basis to allow for both growth and improvement and for early notice to candidates who are not expected to progress within the practice.

(h) Monitoring: Monitoring whether women are retained and promoted at rates comparable to the rates at which men are retained and promoted and whether the goals committed to herein are met. To the extent law firms or legal departments find that there is a discrepancy between the rates at which women and men are retained or promoted or that talented lawyers are choosing to leave, law firms or legal departments should honestly and sensitively consider whether the criteria employed to measure progress within the practice are positively related to successful practice; and whether discriminatory bias, no matter how subtle, has affected the evaluation process.


1. The intent of the Statement is to reach all organizations which employ lawyers, including corporations, partnerships, governmental entities and non-profit enterprises (such as advocacy groups, hospitals, universities and trade associations). Reference to law firms and legal departments is meant to encompass all organizations which employ lawyers.