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Monthly Archives: March 2016

U.S. Census Reports that a Large Gender Pay Gap Still Remains in the Law

The ABA reported that full-time female lawyers earn 77% of their male counterparts. These numbers are based on the release of the U.S. Census Bureau data which was collected in 2014, and released earlier this month.  In all law-related jobs, the median pay for female workers in 2014 was 51.6 % of the pay of male workers.  This reflects a much larger gap because there is still a disproportionate amount of women holding paralegal and support staff positions and pay in those areas is substantially lower. Some other interesting data about the inequity of women working in the legal profession are as follows: Female paralegals and legal assistants earned 94% of male paralegal’s pay Female judges, magistrates and other judicial workers earned 71.8% of men’s pay in those occupations Female legal support workers made 73.7% of the pay of male legal support workers. Fusion also reported on the large gap in both law and business.  The article quotes Laura Bellows, the past president of the ABA, who expressed the challenges that women face in the “eat what they kill” motto of winning business because they are more likely to work part-time. Bellows also told Fusion that women face challenges in negotiating higher salaries. “Are women good negotiators? Yes,” Bellows said. “But women are often labeled as greedy and aggressive and not team driven when asking for a well-deserved raise and bonus. Men who ask are viewed as strong and good negotiators hard workers worthy of consideration for an increase.” So what is the takeaway from this new wave of dismal statistics?  All women lawyers need to be aware  of the statistics above not just for themselves, but for the women surrounding them.  While there are plenty of female lawyers that are flourishing, the average woman lawyer is still making 77% of their male counterpart. This is just plain unacceptable.  We owe it to ourselves to care  about this issue, whether or not it personally affects us, because this is an issue for all women lawyers. It will take a collective response from all women in law to demand equal pay, and until we can stand united, nothing will change. The post U.S. Census Reports that a Large Gender Pay Gap Still Remains in the Law appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Four Superhero Women Embark to Break Open the Glass Ceiling

Once upon a time, four great women were asked to participate on a panel about the effects of gender in the courtroom at the ABA White Collar Conference but instead of simply opining about the topic- they decided to conduct their own research and find real answers.  These superhero women were: Moderator Patricia Brown Holmes, a Partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila Ellen Brickman, Ph.D. Director, DOAR a litigation consulting firm Laura Colombell Marshall, Partner, Hunton & Williams LLP Joan McPhee, Partner Ropes & Gray LLP The panel was titled Women in the Courtroom: A View from the Jury Box.  I spoke to Joan McPhee last week about the study and the panel discussion, which I unfortunately missed.  She told me that when they first started to explore the topic it was disappointing to discover there was very little if any data or research on the topic.  This inspired them to conduct their own research to get to the bottom of many questions such as: How do jurors view male and female attorneys? How does a juror’s gender influence perception of attorney effectiveness? Does attorney gender have power to influence the ultimate outcome? Thankfully they had Ellen Brickman on the panel from DOAR Litigation, a Ph.D. with extensive experience in conducting juror research. A study was developed using a pool of 880 mock jurors of equal gender from major metropolitan areas from around the country.  These jurors were surveyed using two components. One was the IAT (Implicit Association Test) measuring implicit biases and the other was a survey that included an attorney opening statement case scenario.  They had the jurors read the opening statement, which was identical except one version described the attorney as female and the other described the attorney as male. The jurors then were asked questions with reference to the gender of the attorney about their perceptions of the opening statement and its effectiveness across a range of attributes.  You can read more details about the study in the PowerPoint presentation here.  The most amazing finding from this study was that male jurors have an automatic preference for male lawyers, and female jurors have an automatic preference for female lawyers.  Even more surprising, the women’s preferences were much stronger. If conducting their own research wasn’t enough, these women also conducted an attorney survey of experiences relating to gender bias. They found that 72% of female colleagues surveyed reported negative experiences with colleagues because of their gender, 69% reported negative experiences with opposing counsel, and 43% reported negative experiences from judges.  The take away is that gender bias is alive and well in our field. When I spoke to Joan she shared with me how surprised she was by certain parts of the study’s findings.  Having anticipated that gender stereotypes embedded in our culture might lead both male and female jurors to have automatic preferences for the male attorney, and to prefer the male opening statement as stronger and more effective, it was notable that male and female jurors each held a clear preference for the attorney of their own gender with the female jurors exhibiting a preference for the female attorney that was twice as strong as the male jurors’ preference for the male attorney. Given that juries are gender diverse, Joan noted that, all other things being equal, these results suggest that a gender-diverse trial team should have an edge at trial in connecting with jurors and maximizing persuasiveness.  She noted that the jurors’ preferences for the attorney of their own gender was reflected in the results of both the IAT, in the form of an “automatic preference,” and in the opening statement case scenario.  Specifically, with regard to the latter, female jurors found the female attorney’s opening statement to be clearer and more logical and to reflect greater care for the client. The reverse was true for the male jurors.  She noted that the recent ABA report on women as first chair found that, for women serving in lead counsel roles at trial, almost 70% appear for the government as prosecutors and only 30% for the defense. Joan questioned, in light of the research findings and the government’s apparent greater ability to field a strong, gender-diverse trial team, whether we are effectively “ceding an advantage to the Government.” This study suggests that the defendant has a clear disadvantage if the only female in the courtroom is at the Government’s counsel table. Ellen Brickman cautioned, based on her years of experience in working with mock juries, that jurors are sensitive to how women and minorities are treated as members of a team, and that just having a token female member at counsel table who is not playing an active role has the opposite effect and can backfire. Joan also spoke to me about the “Audition Screen” that has been written about extensively, and which involved a symphony conducting blind auditions of musicians using screens and carpeted floors to mask any information about the gender of the performers.  Orchestra directors traditionally had a strong preference for men, believing that men were better able to perform at the highest levels of the field, particularly with certain instruments that were viewed to require a level of physical strength and stamina.  The judges were shocked that one of the best performers turned out be a petite woman.  Audition screens thereafter came into more prevalent use and, when the judges’ implicit bias against female performers was walled off and removed from the selection process, the result was a dramatic increase in the number of women being chosen. What does that tell us? Joan would say that our own implicit biases may interfere unconsciously with our ability to identify and promote the strongest talent, to the detriment not only of those passed over, but also to the overall performance of the team.  In the context of a criminal trial, with our clients’ liberty on the line – if we are to field the strongest team and harness full persuasive power with a gender-diverse jury – we cannot ignore the potential role of gender in the courtroom. Joan challenged the audience and and all of us to ask, “What is going to be our trial lawyer’s equivalent of the Audition Screen?” The post Four Superhero Women Embark to Break Open the Glass Ceiling appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Current Happenings by and for Women in White Collar Defense

Amy Greer from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represented three AIG affiliates in 9.5 million settlement with the SEC. According to the charges, the AIG affiliates steered mutual fund clients toward more expensive share classes, which resulted in them collecting approximately $2 million in extra fees.  The firms entered a settlement where they neither admitted nor denied the charges. They agreed to the disgorgement of the two million dollars in fees, plus interest and 7.5 million in penalties.    Catching Up with Other Women White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers I recently attended the ABA White Collar Conference in San Diego, which resulted in some great opportunities to connect with other women in the field. The annual Women White Collar Defense Association had its annual event in La Jolla the day before the conference began. The ABA Women White Collar Subcommittee also held a reception for women white collar lawyers on the first night of the conference. There was also a fascinating panel discussion titled “Women in the Courtroom: a View from the Jury Box,” which presented a new study on the role of gender in the courtroom and its effect on jurors, which I hope to highlight in the future. Sally Yates Discussed the Infamous Yates Memo The ABA 30th Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime Seminar included an important question and answer style interview with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates about the now famous “Yates Memo.” In her Q&A Sally Yates appeared open and approachable in her effort to directly address some of the questions and concerns about the new policy.  At one point she comically noted that she wasn’t comfortable calling the new policy the “Yates Memo,” and preferred to call it the individual culpability memo.  It is a must listen to for anyone working in the white collar defense sector – you can listen to it here. Caldwell Denies Certification Requirements Finally, although I missed it in person, there were reports that Leslie Caldwell rejected media statements that the Department of Justice would soon require corporations to certify they disclosed all information about individual culpability before they would be granted cooperation credit. In her remarks during the conference, Caldwell denied that any certification requirement was being planned for the future. Read what others lawyers present reported here. The post Current Happenings by and for Women in White Collar Defense appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Florida Bar Study Reflects Shameful Statistics for Young Women Lawyers

The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyer Division just released a random survey of young women lawyers who are 35 years or under or who have been practicing for five or less years.  The results reflect that 43% of the women surveyed reported experiencing some form of gender discrimination.  Not surprisingly, the survey has received national attention such as here and here. The ABA Journal summarized the findings of the survey as 43 percent said they had experienced gender bias in their careers. 40 percent said they had experienced insensitivity by their employer or supervisor. 37 percent said they had experienced lack of recognition of work-life balance. 17 percent said they had experienced harassment. 21 percent said they believed they were not being paid the same as their male counterparts. What is so sobering about these statistics is that they belong to the young women just entering the profession. The personal accounts shared by the women who participated in the survey, are not a shock to any woman reading this blog who became a lawyer twenty years ago. But the reality that gender bias is still pervasive and affecting a high percentage of young women lawyers entering the profession today is disturbing. The personal accounts included descriptions of being drunk-dialed by senior partners, offers by opposing counsel to run away together, or being assumed to be a court reporter or the boss’s assistant while seated at counsel table.  Many of the young women lawyers reported being called “blondie,” “little lady lawyer,” “honey,” or “sweetheart” by other attorneys and judges both inside or outside of the courtroom.  Women described being told they didn’t need to worry about making money because they either had or would have a husband to cover living expenses.   The Florida Bar President Ramon Abadin was quoted in the Sun Sentinel as saying that the 90 pages of comments in the report “were just sobering. It’s like a bucket of cold water.” Read the comments from the actual survey here. I for one, am embarrassed that women that have been in this profession for less than five years still have to endure this kind of discrimination. So how do we begin to resolve these problems? First, openly discussing them is a great start. Secondly, men in the field that are participating in this kind of behavior need to be exposed.  Finally, women that have been in the field for many years need to take stock and ask themselves if they are doing everything they can to affect change for themselves, other women in the field, and for women that will follow.   I believe that a culture of fear has existed among women lawyers for many years. This culture promotes women minimizing and criticizing any other woman that complains about bias. This culture promotes women staying silent rather than speaking up against blatant discrimination in fear of affecting their own advancement, losing a referral source, or losing a seat at the table of men. This hasn’t had the effect of stopping bias- it has allowed it to grow and fester. I do not intend to blame other women for what are obvious and intentional acts of discrimination but women have the power to reach out to help one another and there is simply no excuse for continuing to refuse to do so based on a false sense of fear. Even if a few of us succeed by remaining silent in the end we all lose. The post Florida Bar Study Reflects Shameful Statistics for Young Women Lawyers appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Lisa Cahill Represents Woman Exonerated After Serving 10 Years

Most independent observers don’t realize this, but the judicial system is stacked against our clients in every way. We get a front row seat to watch the injustices pile up every day. And we face defeat far more often than we experience the sweetness of victory. That may be why, when our advocacy results in a victory for a client, that success is forever etched in our minds. Some of the obvious examples are Not Guilty verdicts, a motion granted, or obtaining a sentence variance or mitigation. But one of the most powerful moments you can experience as a criminal defense lawyer has to be standing with someone exonerated after serving time based on a wrongful conviction. I have only had this experience once in my career, but that moment could carry me for a lifetime. The sense of relief and joy is overwhelming. When someone finally listens to cries that had previously fallen on deaf ears, the catharsis is both surreal and hard to fully grasp in the moment. Lisa Cahill shared such a moment with her client last week. Cahill represented Vanessa Gathers along with the Legal Aid Society and helped to vacate Gather’s manslaughter conviction. Gathers spent 10 years in prison based on a coerced confession, which was the only evidence presented at trial. Her exoneration is related to a string of wrongful convictions at the hands of Detective Scarcella, whose questionable tactics of investigation in multiple murder cases recently came to light after many years. Reading about his means-to-an-end attitude in obtaining convictions is both revolting and chilling. As Cahill properly notes, many people’s lives were destroyed and damaged by his actions. At the hearing to vacate the conviction, The New York Times quoted Cahill honoring Scarcella’s victims: “Today is a joyous day for all of us, but there is a bittersweet tinge to all this, and that is the victim and his family,” she said. “In many respects they were as much victims of Detective Scarcella as Ms. Gathers was.”  What a great victory for the client and for Lisa Cahill! Cahill’s grace in the moment of victory must be commended. She stood tall with her client and demonstrated the heart of a champion.   The post Lisa Cahill Represents Woman Exonerated After Serving 10 Years appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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