Women in almost all professions will face a number of unique challenges when it comes to advancing their career. In general, women have a much more tough row to hoe when it comes to trying to juggle a career and family. This is particularly true of women in the legal profession. Here are challenges that women face in the legal world.
Women already struggle with a number of different types of both overt and covert discrimination. When men walk into a room in a legal setting, there is a greater tendency to assume they are a lawyer, even if they are not. When women walk into that same room, there is a far greater tendency to assume they are a stenographer, paralegal or administrative assistant. Women have to fight harder to overcome these automatic assumptions, so any momentum they might gain in that fight is generally lost any time they have to take a step back for any reason.
Taking Advantage of Benefits
Most law firms offer associates the opportunity to cut back to part-time hours when starting a family. As great as this may sound, it essentially puts any associate that chooses to take advantage of the opportunity at a severe disadvantage. Most promotions in the legal world are based on two things: billable hours and cases won. In some cases, associates can offset their lack of billable hours by landing a premium client, but overall, associates need to prove their worth and value to the firm in order to make partner, and working part-time doesn’t prove much.
Lawyers must do much more than simply know the law, they have to also know how to use the law to win cases for their clients. The more time lawyers spend in court or even working with other lawyers, the more knowledge they gain, which strongly contributes to their ultimate success. The more time women spend being distracted by parenting responsibilities, the more they lose out on time spent advancing their knowledge of the law and legal systems.
Equal Work For Equal Pay
A huge roadblock many women in law face head on in their careers is the topic of equal pay. On paper it should be simple: equal work for equal pay. Unfortunately, that is not the case in most law firms across America. Equal pay between men and women is an issue that has been discussed more and more recently, but the issue has yet to be resolved, even with anti-discrimination laws that have been put into place. Not only do women start out facing more difficulties than men in terms of profession reputation, but they also start with a bigger financial burden by being undermined via salary. In order for this change to be permanent and effective across the nation, there must be more support behind the issue to make the necessary demands needed to resolve it.