The gender gap has been a problem across different industries for a long time. While these issues have been addressed in recent decades, there are still considerable problems to be discussed. This is true for legal firms as well, where despite modern efforts, the gender gap continues to be a problem. This has an effect not only on women but also on the firms themselves. Eventually, not addressing these issues could lead to lower client conversion and loss of business.
The Gender Battle In Personal Injury Law Firms
The lack of gender diversity can lead to having a firm that’s going to be perceived as outdated. In addition, there are many cases in which, due to the nature of the case, female lawyers would be preferred by clients. Overall, this translates into bad PR and the loss of clients.
According to the American Bar Association, 51.2% of enrollees in law school were females by 2017. However, female representation in the legal world does not necessarily reflect this. For example, while 61% of trainees at legal firms are women, only 22% of equity partners are women. Furthermore, a diversity survey revealed that only 25% of members in law-firm management boards are female. This shows a discrepancy that needs to be addressed. This also translates into a wage gap, having been reported that male lawyers in Los Angeles charge rates that are 8.3% than what is charged by female lawyers in the city. This gap is even larger when it comes to small firms, where the gap can be as large as 12%.
In addition, when it comes to personal injury cases, it has been seen that in 79% of the cases, the lead counsel is male. Is it surprising then that women leave the legal workforce much earlier than men? Is there something that can be done about this?
This is especially important when it comes to law firms tending to personal injury cases. These firms see especially delicate cases, where female victims might feel more comfortable with a female personal injury attorney. When looking for a Las Vegas personal injury attorney, these clients should have access to female lawyers as well. Despite this, finding one might not be as straightforward as it should be.
Law Practices With More Opportunities For Women
It’s also important to notice that just as some clients might prefer female lawyers, there are entire practices that could benefit from having more female attorneys. This is especially important not only for personal injury firms but also for family practices and practices specialized in divorce or cases of sexual abuse.
The reason is obvious. In such cases, women are usually the ones involved and they’re the ones who are more likely to prefer female counsel. By incorporating more women, not only as associates but also as partners, firms can get greater visualization and client conversion. In addition, it’s very common for clients to take a look at the diversity of a firm before hiring their services. This is especially true when it comes to younger clients, like Millennials. They highly value getting involved with firms that can represent their beliefs and values.
Tips To Increase Gender Diversity And Customer Satisfaction
Making the changes necessary to become a more gender-inclusive firm is not quickly achieved, but it can yield very positive results.
Changes in Pitching
A way to include more female lawyers in daily firm activities includes allowing them to pitch more to clients. It is often seen that, in a non-malicious way, males lead in this process. This might just be because it’s the way things have always been done or because the lawyer in question has prior experience with the client. However, if a firm has female lawyers that have successfully pitched to other clients before, they could make sure they are included in additional pitching processes.
This will also allow them to have more visibility, which could very well attract additional clients and lead to client conversion. Initiatives such as these should be discussed constantly and their implementation should be swiftly promoted.
Seeing Gender Diversity as a Strategic Goal
Gender diversity should be included as part of the goals of a firm. And like any other goal, ways to achieve it should be discussed and put in motion. In addition, as any other goal should be measured, gender diversity should also have its metrics. This will allow firms to understand the results of their efforts as well as to adapt and include any additional changes necessary.
Reducing Ingrained Bias
A way to make sure promotions are more just is by setting aside stereotypes and looking at the results obtained by the lawyers at a firm. Focusing on the results instead of the person achieving them can be a great way to avoid bias. This could also increase diversity not only on the subject of gender but also when it comes to race.
This can also be addressed by the marketing team. Marketers at legal firms should make an effort to include people from different genders, races, and backgrounds in their communications packages. This includes newsletters, social media posts, and more.
Equal And/Or Competitive Compensation Rates
The biggest and most offensive battle female employees face in the workplace is compensation bias. In 2014 women still made an average of 79 cents on the dollar when compared to men. Meaning if both a man and a woman are working in the exact same job, the same location, and the same point in their careers, while the man would earn a salary of $50,000, the female would only take home $39,500 each year. Establishing programs that check and balance the starting rates and the monetary raise rates will cause female employees to feel that they are working for a firm that cares about them and their skill set.
Sponsorship And Mentor Programs
Establishing accessible mentorship and sponsorship programs can be very beneficial for gender diversity at any legal firm. The first thing to do is assess how access is perceived at the firm, which can be easily done with an anonymous survey. If women at the firm experience a lack of access to mentors, then a program to promote equal mentorship can be established.
Some of the main reasons why women leave law firms involve caretaking issues and the number of billable hours required. The rigid scheduling that has been part of legal firms for so long is an outdated one. This is something that has been further proven by the forceful adoption of telework in 2020. Instead of maintaining the rigid and inflexible schedules of the past, law firms need to aim for more flexibility. This allows both men and women to have a greater work-life balance and it can be a way to achieve retention of female lawyers.
Increasing gender diversity in a law firm can only be beneficial for both female lawyers and legal firms. In some cases, female clients might prefer female lawyers, while in others, diversity can be the difference between client conversion or not. Numerous steps can be taken to achieve gender diversity in a law firm. These include sponsorship programs, pitching changes, and greater flexibility. In the end, the goal is to provide the best service to clients while establishing a firm that can continue to grow.
Firms should create a diverse committee to review and resolve credit disputes, ensuring transparency and accountability in the process. Research demonstrates that female partners are frequently excluded from credit allocation, and have even reported being bullied and intimidated. Creating a space where female employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and point of view is important to boosting morale as well as productivity.
Maria Azadian handles content marketing at Nevada Legal Group. Through her extensive research and commitment to her passion for Human rights, Maria has established herself as a prominent author in personal injury matters in Las Vegas, Nevada.