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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "When Opting Out Is Not An Option"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When Option Out Is Not An Option            

           Remember Lisa Belkin?  Writer of “The Opt-Out Revolution,” which the New York Times Magazine published in October 2003? The article went viral before going viral was a thing. Belkin examined why so many women armed with Ivy League degrees were “opting out” of the workplace. “Why don’t women run the world?” “Maybe,” she explores, “It’s because they don’t want to.”

            I won’t rehash the flood of commentary the article generated but will leave it to your fertile imaginations (if you missed it, Google it). Thirteen years later, women continue to “opt out” of law and other competitive careers in concerning numbers.[1] We take on less demanding assignments, to better cater to our babies. I did it–I knew I could not breastfeed, try cases, and care for a two-year-old and an infant. For me, the calculus changed when the babies turned one and three, and breastfeeding fell out of the equation.

            I sat down recently with Mahira[2], a new mother who recently “opted out” of her job with a progressive non-profit following a year of trying to make it all work. I wanted to know the extent to which her opting out was an affirmative choice, or whether circumstances drove her to it. 

            Mahira’s husband enjoyed some flexibility after the arrival of their child. He took two months of paternity leave, and initially he returned to work part-time, to ease Mahira’s transition back to work. The firestorm hit when they each received significant promotions - in the same week! Their day care situation was not working well; the baby slept poorly. In addition to work and the baby, Mahira comes from a close-knit family and helps to care for a disabled relative. Her husband’s promotion meant constant travel, so Mahira was flying solo during the workweek. Mahira’s non-profit was incredibly flexible, allowing her to experiment with part-time and work-from-home days. 

            But in the end, Mahira came to a conclusion: “My sanity is not for sale.” She’s been home for a couple of months now, and she remains active with two non-profits on a volunteer basis. For Mahira, the financial dependence on her husband’s income has been one of the hardest parts of “opting out.” This is the first time in her adult life that she not earned income. Quitting her job has made Mahira’s life saner, and she feels tremendous peace with her decision. 

Belkin’s subjects decided that their own work lives were too demanding to be sustained along with any kind of a family life. Mahira’s decision mirrors theirs. When her husband’s job became all-consuming, it was Mahira who bowed out of the workforce. To be fair, finances played into her decision–her husband out-earned her. But here’s the thing: My son’s school is filled with kids whose mothers also opted out, probably the result of hundreds of individual decisions. It is not the individual decision of any particular woman that is of concern, but the pattern. 

           We women fill the lecture halls of elite colleges and law schools. Yet, when life as a dual-career family becomes unsustainable, it’s rarely husbands who step away from their earned income. And, when gender appears to be the common denomination among those opting out, is leaving the workforce really an individual choice, or is it more appropriate to deem it a sociological phenomenon? And, how does this model, (where the female takes on the lion’s share of responsibility for home and family), teach our children where women and where mothers, belong?



[1] In 2012, the ABA released statistics bearing this out. Although women held 45% of associate positions, only 20% of partners and 15% of equity partners are women.

[2] Mahira is not her real name.

This blog post was authored by Rebecca Zipp. Rebecca Zipp currently has a sink full of dirty dishes.

 


Tags:  balance parenting  LCB  My So-Called First-World Problems  working mom 

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Perspectives from the Periphery of Family Law: "The Magic Numbers I Wish I’d Known as I Started My Own Firm"

Posted By Anna Howard, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Magic Numbers I Wish I’d Known as I Started My Own Firm

            I started my own law firm largely because no firm was doing the types of law I wanted to practice: What I’ve come to call periphery family law and estate planning, excluding probate. Those specific interest areas spurred my curiosity about setting out on my own, but what cemented the idea was the support and encouragement of friends and mentors. One said quite plainly, “You will never regret working hard to put profits directly into your own pocket,” and she was absolutely right.

            These mentors gave me check lists and must-dos that they found from other solo practitioners who had gone before them. I looked over their lists, ignored the items that were cost-prohibitive (like hiring a full-time secretary), and got underway. I dove in based on another gem of a tip, “Get busy finding clients and doing the work, set up your systems later or you’ll never end-up taking your first case.” 

            Now in year three and with more than one hundred cases under my belt, I have been approached by newer lawyers asking me for tips. This is still a learning process and the chief piece of advice I give is to make sure you have mentors who will answer your questions and lend you their keen insight. My other chief recommendation? Know your numbers.

            80/20. This is the proportion of time you will want to allocate between working on client matters and growing your business. I heard it broken down like this:  Mondays are for working on internal-systems and administrative tasks to keep your firm organized; Tuesdays through Thursdays are devoted to client matters; Fridays are for marketing to find new leads.

            6 months. This is the length of time it took me stop using savings to support myself. I wasted considerable time mapping out monthly goals and what minimum payments I needed to stay out of the red, but back then I had no idea what my case load was going to look like. While it was important to know exactly how much I needed to earn each month to keep the lights on, I should have been more patient with myself. Give yourself six months to see where the tide takes you, and map your yearly goals and future projections only after you have done at least half-a-year of work.

            1/6s. Six slices to a pie-chart is an easy visual. This pie-in-the-sky is what I mentally picture when I am considering spending money on a form of advertising. It helps put my marketing budget (or in the beginning, my credit card charges) in some semblance of order. Many of the networking events I attended crammed social-media down my throat. I felt panicky about not posting on facebook at a high-traffic times or not blogging on Avvo. Thankfully, I calmed down and got real. We are in a referral-driven industry, and only some of lawyers’ leads are generated from social media. Luckily, word of mouth costs nothing but elbow grease and a steadfast dedication to your professional reputation. 

            Here is my pie-slice marketing budget: 1/6 on announcements to family and friends–I chose the post-card route, other friends kicked-off their solo practice with a ribbon cutting. 1/6 on online-presence and social media. 1/6 on traditional ads such as yellow pages, with and understanding that the return is low. 1/6 on bar associations and MCLEs. 1/6 on complimentary industry groups like financial advisor lunches and meetings of CPAs.  Finally, the last 1/6th of my marketing budget is devoted to a structured weekly, category-exclusive, business referral group (these include Rotary, Kiwanas, Lions, BNI, Le Tip, TEAM, and some Chamber of Commerce small-groups). Spending too much money or time in any one slice is not healthy for the overall stability of my firm.

            1 hour. I religiously devote one hour in the morning to working out or at least taking a walk around my neighborhood every morning. I also devote one hour before I go to sleep to not check my email or do anything work related. This sounds intuitive, and these precious personal hours are not easy to carve out as a solo. I’ve learned that I do a better job helping my clients if I am refreshed and alert when I am working on a case. 

            I would love to know what magic numbers help guide other veteran solo practitioners out there! Please share your tips and suggestions for other topics below!

This blog post was authored by Anna Howard. Anna Howard, improving the lives of Californian families, one well-crafted legal document at a time.

 

Tags:  LCB  Perspectives from the Periphery of Family Law  solo budget  solo firm  solo numbers  solo practice  solo time management  solo tips 

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Is Pay Secrecy the Enemy?

Posted By Anonymous , Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Is Pay Secrecy the Enemy?

 

Equal pay for women has been a hot topic recently. Equal Pay Day is marked annually (recently in April) and marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. The U.S. women’s soccer team made news by filing a wage discrimination lawsuit against U.S. soccer (addressed in a wonderful LCB entry by Daphne Delvaux). Because this is an election year, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have raised this issue of wage disparity more often. Ivanka Trump even discussed equal pay for women during her speech at the Republican National Convention. The State of California addressed this issue by passing the Fair Pay Act going into effect on January 1, 2016. This law strengthened existing laws by requiring men and women to be paid equally for “substantially similar” work.

 

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that female attorneys at Farmers Insurance filed a class action lawsuit because they were getting paid significantly less than their male counterparts. One female attorney learned a male co-worker was making $185,000 while she was earning $99,000. This was true even though they had the same position and he earned his law license a year later. After facing some retaliation for complaining, this attorney quit and hired San Francisco attorney Lori Andrus to represent her in a lawsuit. Eventually a class action suit was brought on behalf of 300 Farmer’s attorneys with nearly 200 of them current employees.

 

It was learned the greatest disparity at Farmer’s Insurance occurred at higher pay levels where women were much more likely to be in a lower salary grade. This was true regardless of their bar date. Men were being promoted at higher rates “It’s not that women were being demoted,” Andrus said. “But a man would get groomed and promoted. Basically, there is male favoritism, which is probably unintentional. It’s a vestige of the good old boy network.” This matter has settled for $4,000,000. As part of the settlement, Farmers agreed to some reforms. These included increasing the number of women attorneys in its higher salary grades. The settlement also requires Farmer’s to reform its policies, including increasing the number of women attorneys in its higher salary grades.

 

The situation at Farmer’s is far from a unique one. Law firms, corporate offices, and government agencies across California operate in the same manner. These issues are usually swept under the rug or go undiscovered because of pay secrecy policies. There is also a general understanding that employees should not discuss salary with their colleagues. Those with a higher salary are likely aware of it and are going to be less willing to share the information publicly. Legally, employers cannot prevent their employees from discussing salary information. However, this could lead to additional retaliation (as in the Farmer’s case above) if the wage discrepancy issue is then raised with the employer.

 

Leave your opinion in the comments. I’d love to hear what others have to say. Is full disclosure of salary information the answer to pay discrimination? Should salary information be shared among co-workers? 

Tags:  class action  equal pay  Farmer’s Insurance lawsuit  LCB  off the beaten partner track  pay discrimination  pay secrecy  salary retaliation  U.S. Women's Soccer  wage discrepancy 

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Off the Beaten Partner Track: "Can We Have It All?"

Posted By Jillian Fairchild, Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Can We Have It All?

The question of whether work/life balance is possible is a constant one. Anne-Marie Slaughter famously determined that the answer was “no” in her article titled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Since the birth of my own daughter, I have been wondering more and more - is it possible to have a full-time career, children/family, and keep your sanity?

 

Women everywhere are fighting to balance work lives with home life. My own struggle has been made more difficult by the fact that I recently joined a very busy litigation defense firm. My hours have gotten longer and I am not always home by the time my daughter is asleep. On those days, my time with her is limited to the hour I see her in the morning before I drop her off at daycare. When I have to go out of town, I am frequently gone before she gets up and do not get home until after she is asleep.

 

This dilemma is not limited to women. I see some of my male colleagues also struggle for balance. My own husband faced similar issues. He is a chef who worked for 10 years before being promoted to executive chef. What he quickly learned is that his new position required working 6-7 days and 70-80 hours a week, all evenings, weekends, and holidays. Once our daughter was born, he felt he was missing everything at home. He eventually refused to work in restaurants and hotels and is now a chef in a corporate office. He works dream hours (6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) and is home in the evenings and weekends to see his family. 

 

Of course, consideration must be given to the fact that the “all” is different for everyone. Ms. Slaughter referred to having children and a high-powered career. Like her, some strive to be at the top of their profession. Others simply strive to pay their bills, but their real goal is to make time for the PTA. My husband decided that his “all” was time at home and his family was more important than the long hours that came with a more prestigious chef position.

 

It seems as though it is important to determine what your “all” is. Every person has to look at their life and determine what is most important to them. Is it spending time with your kids? Having a dream job/career? There are also financial considerations impacting these decisions, including daycare and student loan debt. The “all” is a deeply personal decision that is different for everyone and will likely change over time. 

This blog post was authored by Jillian Fairchild

 

Tags:  Ann-Marie Slaughter  having it all  LCB  off the beaten partner track  work-life balance 

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Celebrating Two Decades of Outreach Through Reading

Posted By Michele Macosky , Monday, August 29, 2016
Celebrating Two Decades of Outreach Through Reading
 

It is amazing to think that it has been 20 years since the first Read-In at Central Elementary School in City Heights. LC member Jan Atkinson launched a Career Day Read In event and established Lawyers Club’s formal “Partnership in Education” with Central in the 1996-1997 school year. A few months later, as the new chair of what is now the Community Outreach Committee, I was tasked with further developing and overseeing this partnership. At a meeting with the school, we brainstormed plans for the first Halloween Read-In.

This was before email really took off, so organizing meant long cold calls to everyone I knew asking them to participate—and then individually faxing confirming information. I would describe the intense need at the school, where even today, every student qualifies for free breakfast and lunch and must overcome daunting economic disadvantages. The children are in need of role models to encourage things like a love of reading, staying in school, going to college or considering a dream career. 

For twenty years, I have humbly watched our volunteers flood the school at read-ins to be these role models. It didn’t take long for us to add a Spring Read-In. After the first few years, La Raza Lawyers Association joined us to recruit Spanish/English bilingual readers for bilingual-designated classrooms. Our volunteers have brought books, treats, school supplies, and most of all themselves—with many dedicated readers returning year after year, and new readers always joining in. I have watched firsthand as our volunteers—from city officials to first-year law students—inspire the kids to fulfill their own potential.

Still, the needs at Central remain great. I was told by Central staff that there is no money in the budget for basic school supplies this year. The kids return towards the end of August, and they are missing things like paper, pencils, markers and items needed for the school to open. I know the families are not in a position to make up the difference for each child. Even worse, kids in the 4th and 5th grades are in non-air-conditioned trailer-classrooms where temperatures rise to the point that teachers have to stop lessons to ensure the students are okay, despite the heat. High temperatures will persist through the October Read-In, and teachers in these classes asked me to see if our members would help donate fans. Sooooo, the COC created an online wish list through which our members can donate. I am truly hoping that the wishlist link goes viral and people forward it to everyone they know who might donate. Every little bit helps and in the aggregate, we can make a huge impact on the 800+ small children at the school who have so many obstacles to overcome.

Helping kids is a passion for me. I believe that to change society we must outreach to the next generation. If we empower and teach our values to the children, we change the world. Twenty years later, organizing the read-ins is one of the most important and fulfilling things I do. This year, we celebrate two decades of Read-Ins at Central Elementary School on Monday, October 31, 2016 (Halloween) from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Mayor Kevin Faulconer will speak and read to kids. I am always grateful to the returning readers who continue to make such a difference and excited to welcome new volunteers to what has become my favorite and most meaningful Halloween tradition. Join us by emailing me at Macosky@san.rr.com.

This blog post was authored by Michele Macosky. Michele Macosky practices employment law and is a Harry Potter fan.

Tags:  anniversary  COC  Community Outreach Committee  Halloween  read-in  reading 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "A Working Mother's Worth"

Posted By Megan O’Neill, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Working Mother’s Worth

 

Jennifer Aniston released a statement addressing the rampant pregnancy rumors that have haunted her for years. "This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status." While this article focuses on the projection of inadequacy onto women who are not married or have kids, within the professional world I feel a completely different bias. One that women who are married and/or have children are somehow unable to handle the focus or commitment of a demanding career because she is balancing distractions from other areas of her life. A bias towards men (married and single) and single women, that they are somehow sheltered and/or better able to handle the distractions of a home life. So women with families are left to constantly justify and/or define their “value” at home and at work.

 

Perhaps one way to begin to challenge the definition of “value” for women in the workplace is to challenge the long-held standard of time as a measurement of one’s value in a professional career. Someone once told me that it is great that in this day and age I have the choice to enter the workforce and I have the choice to balance family and work. I disagree; I do not really have a choice. We have a choice to go to work, but if we cannot maintain the billable hour requirement, our perceived value suffers. While careers may tolerate our home life, we all continue to be held to the billable hour standard as a measure of our commitment and desirability to promote. I would like to choose to have a career that is challenging and demanding within a firm that allows me to grow and promote all while being flexible to the needs and demands of a family at home. Thankfully, I have found such a work environment but I am aware from conversations with peers just how unusual it is.

 

The film “I Don’t Know How She Does It” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, navigates the challenges and successes of a professional seeking a partnership role in her firm, while also juggling duties of mother and wife. Sarah’s competition for the position is a single woman who is driven, qualified, hungry and undistracted. I love how the film explores Sarah’s character’s relationships with the PTA moms, with her high profile client, with her co-workers and the partners, and also with her children and her husband. The first time I casually watched the movie my jaw dropped and I felt so validated. While not an award winner, I recommend the movie to everyone!


This blog post was authored by Megan O'Neill

Tags:  balance  billable hours  family  I don't know how she does it  jennifer aniston  perfection in the imperfection  working mom  worklife 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "Smarter Faster Better"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Monday, August 22, 2016
 Smarter Faster Better

Charles Duhigg’s 2012 book, “The Power of Habit,” set the corporate world afire by explaining how personal and institutional habits develop, and how they can change. His new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, highlights a method of problem-solving popularized by Toyota, and described by Duhigg as “the Five Whys.” You identify a problem, and determine on the most surface level why the problem exists. Duhigg’s much-discussed example of a problem he solved, (courtesy of Toyota), was that he and his wife never got home in time to have dinner with their children. 

It turned out that in Duhigg’s case, hectic mornings at home bred hectic evenings. A couple of easy changes to the morning routine and voila, the four Duhiggs routinely sit down to dinner together. Heck, they are probably enjoying free-range chicken carbonara at their upcycled dining room table together right now . . . as they discuss Muffy Duhigg’s upcoming lacrosse tournament and Badger Duhigg’s design ideas for whimsical organic cotton oven mitts, the profits of which will be donated to the Celiac Foundation. 

Not the Zipps. We are washing down leftover Little Caesar’s with red wine and non-organic milk. Then, serving highly-processed desserts–think Teddy Grahams–before bedtime, when we like to impart a misogynistic fairy tale or two. But, I digress.


If you are a working mom (why, oh why, is "working dad" not a thing?) you know that something's gotta give. You are probably pretty committed to being a mom, and to your job, but those other minutiae of life–marriage, friends, fitness, and a house that doesn't attract the attention of CPS–feel more . . . discretionary. And
maybe, just maybe, you judge yourself for not scoring a perfect 10 in every area of life. 

I do. And so I decided to test the Toyota method in my own life, with my so-called first-world problems. Maybe implementing the Toyota method could help me become a perfect 10 mom and perfect 10 homemaker. Here is what happened:

Problem #1:  My five-year-old is crying on the floor.

Why? I told him he must use a pencil, not his foot-long Ninja Turtle pen, to do his homework.

Why? Because I believe that kindergarteners (mine in particular) ought to use pencils, not foot-long Ninja Turtle pens, to do homework.

Why? Because they make frequent mistakes on their homework. 

Why? Kindergarten homework is their first experience with producing a written work product.

Why? Because they are five years old.

Lesson: My five-year-old is crying on the floor precisely because he is a five-year-old!

Problem #2:  My laundry is clean, but is neither folded nor put away.

Why? I do not immediately fold my laundry when the dryer cycle ends.

Why? I become engaged in another activity.

Why? Just as the dryer cycle finishes, my three-year-old asks me to help him make a rattlesnake puppet out of an old sock.

Why? He lacks the motor skills necessary to complete this task by himself.

Why? He is three years old.

Lesson: My laundry is not put away because I have a three-year-old.

The takeaway for me is that I have about fifteen years before I can expect to be faster, smarter, or better. The same expanse of time stands between me and a tidy house. Better luck to the rest of you, as you strive to implement this super helpful method in your personal and professional lives.

This blog post was authored by Rebecca Zipp. 
Rebecca Zipp currently has a sink full of dirty dishes.

Tags:  book review  My So-Called First-World Problems  self-help  self-improvement  working mom 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "Find Our Voices"

Posted By Molly Tami, Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Finding Our Voices

  

Women’s struggle to find their “voice” pervades the three waves of feminism. During the first wave, women fought just to have their voices heard at all in political and social spheres. Second wave feminism found women advocating for their rights and voicing their ambitions to engage in market work, not just family work. In this current wave, women strive, with mixed results, to be the voices of leadership in our professions and workplaces. When it comes to women’s voices being equally heard in the legal profession, I think most would agree that we are not there yet. So why is that and what can we do to change it?   

 

I bet we’ve all listened to women apologize for something they said or did, whether they really meant it or not or whether the situation really warranted an apology. (I know I’ve been guilty of doing that.) In a New York Times opinion piece entitled Why Women Apologize and Should Stop, the author discusses the theories on our “sorrys,” and suggests that women often apologize for things that are clearly not our fault as a prompt for the person who actually should be apologizing. She contends that women give “assertive apologies” that are too indirect and come off as a passive- aggressive. She urges us to stop. 

 

In a Huffington Post blog, Women’s Voices: Are They Fully Heard?, the author suggests four challenges that keep women’s voices from being fully heard in the U.S. corporate world: women’s style of speech sounds less confident; women don’t assert themselves until they feel they really know what they are speaking about; women get “talked over;” and women who speak up are penalized. The author’s goal is to create awareness of these so-called “challenges” (which smack of gender bias) so that women’s voice can be heard loud and clear.

 

And why do successful and ambitious women sometimes fail to assert themselves in high-level meetings? The authors of a Harvard Business Review article entitled Women, Find Your Voice addressed that question in a research study involving 1,100 female executives at or above the vice president level. Their article discusses their findings and provides advice on what women can do to become more effective and more comfortable in meetings such as mastering the “pre-meeting,” preparing to speak spontaneously, maintaining an even keel, and moving past confrontation without taking it personally. 

 

Women lawyers all want their voices to be heard. So here are four practical steps towards that end that I challenge us all to try over the next 21 days (the time it takes to create a new habit): 1) stop apologizing; 2) don’t allow others to interrupt you- keep talking; 3) prepare to speak at meetings and then speak confidently; and 4) don’t become defensive or uncomfortable when others disagree with you. Despite how far we have come, when it comes to women having their voices equally valued in our profession, we are definitely still “chasing the last wave.” Let’s resolve to raise our voices above the waves until we are at last fully heard.     

This blog post was authored by Molly Tami. 
Molly Tami serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law. She previously designed and taught a course on Law, Gender and the Work/Family Conflict and is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.

Tags:  apologize  bias  career  Chasing the Last Wave  feminism  feminist  gender  legal profession  voice 

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Off the Beaten Partner Track: "Sit at the Table"

Posted By Jillian Fairchild, Monday, August 15, 2016
Sit at the Table

One of the things that Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to do in her book Lean In is to “sit at the table.” She tells a story about high-ranking women that visited the Facebook offices with an international diplomat. The women had just as much right to engage in the discussion as the men, but they continued to sit off to the side even after Ms. Sandberg offered them a seat at the table. She argues that it is important for women to literally and figuratively sit at the table. 

 

Ms. Sandberg notes that part of the reason that women fail to engage and “sit at the table” is a lack of confidence. Compared to men, women generally underestimate their abilities, predict they will do worse on tests and do not consider themselves as ready for promotions. Several studies show that when men are successful, they attribute this success to their ability and intelligence. When women are successful, they attribute it to luck, someone else’s help, or hard work. Generally, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. 

 

Confidence can affect promotions and can even be more important than competence in some situations. When asked about this, senior partners at law firms recognize this confidence gap is a problem. Some female associates are extraordinarily competent as attorneys, but do not speak up at client meetings. For this reason, partners have identified this as a reason they are not confident the female associate can handle the client’s account. This confidence gap is hurting women’s ability to get promotions at law firms.

 

This is something that I have struggled with in my practice as well. I have a memory of a client meeting where I sat off to the side with the paralegals and not at the table with the partner. Needless to say, I did not actively participate in that meeting. Should the partner have introduced me to the client as the associate on the file and encouraged me to sit next to him? Yes. But I should have also had enough confidence in my abilities and intelligence to engage in the meeting and sit at the table. Moreover, if I had the courage to sit the table, then the partner would have been more likely to introduce me.

 

During the past couple of years I have found the confidence to speak up. I try to make sure that I contribute verbally to all meetings. I do this not only to share my ideas, which is important. I also try to voice my opinions in order to appear confident in my abilities.

 

Have any of you had experiences where you did not participate at meetings for lack of confidence? Have you found ways to overcome this confidence gap? I would love to hear from you regarding your success stories for overcoming fear of contributing at meetings.

This blog was authored by Jillian Fairchild


Tags:  Confidence Gap  off the beaten partner track  Sheryl Sandberg  Sit at the Table 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "June 27, 2016"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Wednesday, August 10, 2016
 June 27, 2016.

When San Diego’s Coalition for Reproductive Justice (formerly the Coalition for Reproductive Choice), scheduled a June 27, 2016 screening of Trapped many moons ago, we were ignorant of the date’s auspices. Trapped follows the travails of abortion providers and their patients following the enactment of HB 2—the 2013 Texas law requiring that (a) doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic; and, (b) each abortion clinic meet standards for ambulatory surgical care centers. Serendipitously, we aired Trapped just hours after the Supreme Court of the United States held that HB 2 unconstitutionally placed an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

A little history: Traditionally, abortion foes prioritized the fetus, whereas advocates of abortion access have prioritized women’s lives and right to self-determination over any competing rights of the fetus.

In the last decade, the right-to-life camp has shifted gears, claiming that they are on the side of women—the more barriers to abortion, the better for women. Abortion, they began to argue, is inherently harmful to the woman physically, emotionally, and mentally. (NB: None of this is borne out by the evidence. Abortion is safer than childbirth. It is safer than a colonoscopy. Safer than liposuction. And, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), abortion does not cause mental health problems for most women.)  

A survey of available data (courtesy of the Guttmacher Institute and the APA) suggests that abortion is not harmful to women. What is harmful is the stigma our society attaches to abortion, and the strategically placed barriers to early abortion access. (Early abortions are safer and less expensive than later ones). What I love most about Whole Woman’s Health is the Court’s refusal to give credence to falsified claims that TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws do anything to help women. Why the refusal? Because the claims are not supported by evidence. We lawyers traffic in facts, and the record in Whole Woman’s Health is chock-full of facts demonstrating that barriers to abortion care are unhelpful and even dangerous.

The Court found the stated justification–keeping women safer–to be seriously lacking, and it found an unconstitutional undue burden. Among other persuasive facts, the Court considered that most abortions are not surgical, but medical (where the woman takes a pill to induce the abortion); thus, repudiating the opposition's assertion that abortions ought to occur at ambulatory surgical care centers.

 

State laws similar to HB 2 have proliferated in the past few years and are expected to face serious scrutiny in the wake of Whole Woman’s Health. As a result, the anti-abortion camp is expected to again revamp its strategy, returning their focus to the rights of the fetus, while reproductive justice advocates will continue to work toward the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls.

The atmosphere at CRJ’s screening of Trapped was celebratory yet somber. In the wake of HB 2’s enactment, Texas lost half of its abortion clinics. Rebuilding will take time, and in the three years it took the case to wind its way through the courts, real women and girls bore HB 2’s consequences. 

This blog was authored by Rebecca Zipp. Rebecca Zipp is the proud owner of a Notorious RBG t-shirt.



Tags:  Abortion  My So-Called First-World Problems  reproductive justice  SCOTUS  Supreme Court  Texas  Texas TRAP laws 

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