CHICAGO, Feb. 7 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A vast m…

CHICAGO, Feb. 7 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A vast majority of female members of the nation’s largest defense bar association, DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar, who responded to a recent survey reported experiencing gender bias in the courtroom. More than half of the women surveyed have considered leaving the
practice of law due to issues related to their gender, including work/life
balance issues.

The survey results and comprehensive white paper including recommended
strategies for law firm management can be found on DRI’s website at Findings include:

* More than 70 percent report experiencing gender bias in the courtroom
* More than 61 percent of the women surveyed have considered leaving the
practice of law due to issues related to their gender, such as
balancing family life pressures
* More than 65 percent of women surveyed believe that there is a glass
ceiling for women defense attorneys
* More than 52 percent of women surveyed said that the practice of law
influenced their personal decision on the timing of motherhood. Many
said that they postponed having children so that they could meet
demands necessary to be considered for partnership, demands that they
perceived to be in conflict with child rearing
* Only 62 percent reported having a mentor and only 25 percent of those
mentors were female
* Nearly all respondents reported an ongoing struggle of working in a
male-dominated field and the need to balance being assertive with the
fear of being labeled as aggressive

DRI Past President William R. Sampson commissioned the study, which
included more than 100 interviews with attorneys and judges of both genders,
as well as an electronic survey of more than 4,000 female members of DRI
nationwide, of which 765 responded.

“In the past, firms have attributed their low ratio of women partners to a
numbers game, reasoning that the advancement of women would increase over time
as more women graduated law school and joined the ranks of law firms. However,
it is clear that our profession is still suffering from an unbalanced playing
field,” Sampson said.

Interviewees most commonly cited the challenge of balancing stressful
workloads and unpredictable hours with the demands of raising a family.
Respondents reported that female attorneys must work harder in law firms to
get ahead, yet law firms tend to lack flexibility in the workplace and provide
fewer opportunities for marketing and mentoring. Of the women attorneys
interviewed who had left private practice to pursue a corporate in-house
position or leave the legal profession altogether, a majority cited the
primary cause as lifestyle issues.

Former DRI President Sheryl J. Willert, who in 2003 was the first female
and first African-American to lead a defense bar organization, helped direct
the study. “Ironically, the legal profession is charged with defending
justice, yet it is still struggling with basic gender equality issues. Female
attorneys are not advancing in their private practices, and law firms are
losing their investments in their employees. We’re not talking about a numbers
game anymore. We’re talking about the need for a fundamental change in the
culture of America’s law firms,” Willert said.

Shelley Provosty, who served as chair of the study’s task force, said,
“DRI hopes that law firms across the country will consider our recommendations
for improving the position of women in the courtroom. We know this battle will
not be won with a single study, but it will be won with each firm and each
attorney putting it to their feet, one step at a time.”

DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar, is the nation’s largest association of
lawyers defending civil lawsuits. DRI provides numerous educational and
informational resources to its more than 22,000 members and offers many
opportunities for liaison among defense trial lawyers, corporate America, and
state and local defense organizations. DRI also has an international presence,
seeking to enhance understanding of the law among members of the defense
community who have reason to be concerned with the expanding globalization of
litigation defense. For more information, visit

Web Site:

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