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March 15, 2007

Gen X & Y Women Leaving Law Firms - Factual Follow-up

Thanks to WisBLawg from the UW Law Library, we are directed to a March 7, 2007 Findlaw article titled, "Why are Women - and Gen X and Y Attorneys, Generally Leaving" giving us great follow-up to the provocative piece quoted around the blogosphere last month from the California Lawyer.

"On average, almost a fifth of associates (male and female) leave their law firms each year -- a record high. Within five years of entering a firm, over three-quarters of associates will depart. The associates who are leaving are disproportionately female. No wonder, then, that while nearly one in every two associates at large firms is female, it remains the case that only one in every five or so partners is female.

Costello-Dougherty offers an explanation for the statistics based not only on gender, but also on a generation gap: Unlike the Baby Boomers who preceded them, Generation X and Generation Y women, she says, are less willing to sacrifice the rest of their lives for their careers. (Lawyers belong to Generation X and Y if they are between roughly the ages of 25 and 41.)"

It is well-written and worth reading.

My experience with my students and clients is universal; women (and some men) are terrified they will not be able to have families or meaningfully participate in their family's life.  Or they fear they are too old to wait for partnership.  Or at this stage of their lives they are not willing to grind it out for the next five to eight years on a track to maybe be rewarded with a partnership that really is not meaningful to them.  They have heard too many horror stories and want to by-pass this option, instead looking to practice in a small firm or building a solo practice on their own terms.

I've said it often and it is worth repeating: a legal degree gives a lawyer many options on how to practice their skills and service clientele.  One size does not fit all. One option is not better than another.  The right choice is the choice that is right for you.


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