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Like, Im sure all of you, when Caren came to us about this event

we jumped at the chance to be a part of it. Tackling the problems of

women advancing in the legal market is something that needs this kind of
attention, and we at Bloomberg Law are thrilled to be part of this
discussion. I dont need to reiterate the issues at hand the things many
of us have experience, seen at our firms and read about, including in the
Stanford white paper so often mentioned today.
I was so excited and inspired to hear all the amazing and innovative
ideas you have all come up with. They clearly transcend things
attempted in the past, some of which simply gave lip service to the issue,
and have the ability to truly transform the legal sphere. All the ideas
presented were concrete, tactical solutions that we can put in place
immediately, and many of them would apply outside of the legal arena as
well. And each of these ideas embody Carens battle cry less talk, more
But something I want to discuss with you today is what Ill call the
other side of the problem the more overarching, systemic issue. The
fact that the law firm environment simply isnt built to account for the
lives of women the responsibilities that they have outside of the office,
the fact that although the sea is shifting, women still bear responsibility
for most household activities, including taking care of the children, the
fact that the years that they are supposed to be working the hardest/
longest often coincide with their childbearing years. The fact that there
is limited flexibility in the way law firms currently deal with situations
many of the solutions dont actually address the real problems. The fact

that large law firms are often more focused on the short term economic
effects of things, and not focused enough on the long term effects on the
law firm as a whole. The fact that we are still measured by the billable
hour. The fact that we are scared to admit that maybe we need to treat
women differently understand their concerns differently, and come up
with solutions with them in mind.
I believe that even if women can escape some of the problems
detailed in the white paper lack of mentorship, less desirable work
assignments, biased reviews, fewer business development opportunities
they are nonetheless extracting themselves from the workplace for the
overarching reasons just mentioned. They are capable of doing
everything the men can do, they just dont want to make the necessary
sacrifices. They are choosing to leave, because they feel like its not a
career that appreciates their specific needs. If we really want to keep
and advance women in the legal profession, we need to work on the
things identified today, and also work to fix the systematic issues that
exist that necessarily disadvantage women.
A recent New York times article written by Judith Shulevitz, titled
How to Fix Feminism says it well. The author wishes that the sacrifices
one makes in ones career in order to spend time raising kids was valued,
rather than looked down upon. True equality will take more than equal
pay and better work conditions. It will require something more radical, a
transvaluation of all values, in Neitzsches phrase.
When I think back to the reasons I decided to leave BigLaw, the
main one was not addressed in the White Paper. I dont have specific
complaints about my experience in BigLaw. I didnt feel overwhelming

discrimination, and I do feel like opportunities were given to me.

Generally I was given the same opportunities as my male peers, put on
the good deals, etc. At both of my law firms, I had no problem finding
formal and informal mentors, and incidentally my two greatest mentors
were both men, who chose to take me under their wing and train me to
work with their most important clients. I never worried about my path,
and my ability to succeed. My evaluations certainly exhibited some
unconscious bias youre not aggressive enough, youre too nice, etc
but I never felt like those qualities were pushing me off track. Sure, did
I face various levels of discrimination? Was I not invited to a golf event
because it was assumed I dont golf? Was I told I had to be more
aggressive with the other side (even though I had never given up a
negotiation point that I was fighting for)? But those things didnt define
my career and I wasnt letting them stop my path forward. In short, I felt
very much that partnership was mine for the taking.
What stopped me in my tracks was the fact that I did not have a
balanced life. I was being encouraged to bill more and more time, to
spend more and more time in the office, and beyond that, I was being
asked to spend so much of my precious non-work time entertaining
clients and prospective law firm laterals. I was told that this is what
everyone does to make partner. I was single at the time, and I was
becoming nervous that I was going to remain so. When I first approached
the head of my group telling him I didnt think this path was for me, after
the requisite you can do this, just stick with it this is the hardest
part, he allowed me to go on a four month externship to a non-profit to
recharge before returning back to my old job. I didnt say no to
getting paid a BigLaw salary and working non-profit hours, but I knew it

wasnt going to solve my issue. And heres a perfect example what I

mean by a solution that dont match the problem. I told him I didnt
have a good work/life balance so he gave a four months break and then
expected me to come back wanting to return to my 18 hour days? He
essentially gave me a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
Let me contrast that with a very similar story but at another firm.
My close friend Liz, who is now a partner at an AmLaw 100 firm, and has
been for years, approached the head of her group when she was a midlevel associate and said something similar. The head of her group asked
what it would take to make her feel more comfortable staying. She said
she didnt want to travel anymore. She was honest about the fact that
she didnt feel like she was ever going to meet someone, get married,
have kids, because she was constantly on the road. So the partner told
her he would only staff her on deals that required no travel.
Furthermore, he told her he didnt care where she worked from, offering
her a little more flexibility. As she described it to me, this was the first
time she realized that she could do the job and also have a family. That
was six years ago now. In that time, she made partner, got married, had
two kids and opened a new office of her firm in the southwest.
The solutions we provide have to be responsive to the actual
problems. My firm dealt with my complaint by offering up a solution that
was used in the past for someone who had burnt out and needed a break.
It wasnt responsive to my request, and therefore didnt succeed. My
friends solution was created for her, and gave her what she specifically
needed. It allowed her to stay and succeed. Mine just pushed off the
day I was going to leave.

This is fundamentally my issue with the idea of flextime as a

solution for women. Putting aside the issues raised in the White Paper
about flextime being stigmatized, and people on flextime being perceived
as no longer being on track for partner, I have a different issue. While
flextime arrangements allow lawyers to have a reduced billable hour
workload, as currently implemented at many firms, it doesnt actually
provide real flexibility for those people. If a client needs you, or if
something need to get done, youre still not going to be able to attend
that dance recital or class trip. And the fact that reduced billable hours
automatically leads to reduced pay (even when the law firm isnt
necessarily getting reduced value) is another problem too.
So when I finally decided to leave practice, like so many other
women I know, it wasnt because I didnt think partnership was
attainable. It was because I had decided I didnt want it. I had plenty of
mentors at the firm, but none of the women were people I aspired to
become. They all had been asked to give up everything, and when they
became partner, they found that life had in many ways passed them by. I
was not interested in making the sacrifices I felt I was going to have to
I think thats something we dont always talk about in relation to
this problem, the lack of female role models at firms and the impact that
has on female associates. In my group, the only female partners were
single and unmarried, or divorced and unhappy. There were certainly
successful, happy, female partners at the firm with families, but not in
my practice group, and thats what I needed to see. Retaining anyone at
a law firm is dependent upon them seeing people at your firm who then

can imagine becoming. I dont just mean seeing women at the top. I
mean seeing women who have the things you want, whether its a spouse
or partner, kids, or just general flexibility to have a life outside of work.
A different friend of mine was preparing to leave our law firm right as the
firm was planning to put her up for partner. Ironically, she was leaving to
go to Goldman Sachs where the work was no less intense, but the hours
more predictable. When the head partner begged her not to leave
promised her partnership in the next year or two and pointed to the
female partners in her group, her response was thats exactly why Im
leaving they are exactly what I dont want to become. When the prize
becomes something people dont want, its hard to keep them around.
Just yesterday, LeanIn.Org launched a new campaign called
Together Women Can. In Sheryl Sandburgs own words: The campaign
emphasizes that women can be powerful allies for each other at work
and are uniquely qualified to do so because we experience many of the
same challenges. When a woman helps another woman, they both benefit.
And when women celebrate one anothers accomplishments, were all lifted
up. One takeaway from the campaign is that women are in the best
position to change the status quo that defines full dedication as giving
100% of your attention to work. Since few women can do that, its
another way of unconsciously excluding women. The campaign pushes
women to redefine success in a way that transcends the status quo, and
leaves room for women to succeed. As women take positions of power in
law firms, and corporations, the idea is that they will be the ones to
spearhead the change. And as more junior women see senior women who
they can aspire to be, people like my friend Liz who have achieved that

work/life balance, I believe we will have more women wanting to stay in

the profession.
But in a world where billable hours are the only real measure if
success, it really is difficult to create balance. Every hour out of the
office is an hour not billed. Furthermore, and I saw this happen
repeatedly, women who decided to have families were written off
immediately. The women who redeemed themselves were the ones that
created full work flexibility by finding full-time coverage for their kids.
In my role as staffing coordinator at a large firm, I often was faced with
resistance when partners were asked to work with people who had
flexible arrangements or who wanted to make it home for dinner with
their kids but were then available to log back on and work from home,
one of them who even offering to come back to the office after putting
her kids to sleep. This woman would have been out of pocket for 2 hours
and back online, but many partners were unwilling to work with her on
these terms. Thats what I mean about thinking short term instead of
long term this woman was asking for a small concession but since it did
not confirm to the norm, it was rejected. (Unsurprisingly, this associate
eventually left the firm for an in-house role that afforded her more
flexibility.) Im starting to think, after reading the Stanford White Paper,
and reflecting upon the stories I just relayed, that the billable hour issue
really is, at the heart of it, a feminist one. Maybe its the one we should
all consider tackling first.
Because it just cant be that the only choice for a women who
happens to be a mother, or wants to be a mother, is to get fulltime help
at home to give her the same billing flexibility as then men, or leave the

job. That cannot be what we want the solution to be. Thats why, in
addition to the solutions we have come up with today, we need to also
start working to change the way we think about commitment, and
success, at the law firm. What if success and commitment was tied to
outcome, not billable hours. You could get the same result from your
lawyers and incentivize them to be more efficient with their time.
I happen to work for a company that has made a commitment to
advancing women, and incidentally fulfills a number of the
recommendations detailed in the White Paper, so there is proof that if
you want to fix these things, you can. Mike Bloomberg himself has put
multiple women at the top of his management structure Patty Harris is
the head of Philanthropy, something that we all know is extremely
important to him; Patty Roskill is the CFO; Beth Mazzeo is the COO. At
every major management meeting, when people present to Mike, they
see him flanked by these powerful women. And he has made sure the
company understands that diversity is a priority and he holds his leaders
accountable for doing the same. Furthermore, we are measured on what
we accomplish, not how many hours it takes us to do it. When you talk
about more action; fewer words, its clear that Bloomberg isnt just
saying it, hes doing it. And this obviously trickles down through the
In my division, the Legal Division, there are more women than men
reporting to the President. I can tell you that personally I know my
performance is measured on what I accomplish rather than what hours I
spend in the office. I am given the flexibility to attend the out of work
things that are important to me, or necessary for me to be at. I love my

job, Im excited to go to work every day, because in my job I dont have

to apologize for devoting time to my family, for attempting to be home
for dinner and bedtime every night and then logging back in at night, if
need be. Of course I give things up at home too. I skip more things at my
kids school than I go to; my nanny takes my kids to their doctors
appointments; I am yet to attend a school trip. However, I am allowed to
go to the things that are important with no prejudice. And frankly my
boss, David Perla, one of the judges here, attends to his family as well.
And we all respect him for it. We work in an environment where
balancing the two is a constant struggle, but is done openly, and women
and men alike can have balance and also succeed.
In order to provide people flexibility and balance in the law firm
environment, I think we need to relax some of our existing conventions.
To find a way to assess performance in a way that transcends the need to
hit a specific billable hour requirement, and get people truly comfortable
with the idea that people can work everywhere. Technology, including
Bloomberg Law, the tool I work on, are now accessible to people no
matter where they are. People can access their secure networks,
collaboration tools and internal databases and document repositories,
from home. There is no reason why someone couldnt go home, put his
or her kids to sleep and then log back on and continue to work. When I
was in charge of staffing, partners often resisted working with associates
who sought to have this arrangement, and we let them do that. I think
we need to stop allowing partners to say no. We need to force the issue.
And we have to find a way to support women through the years
where they have the largest childbearing burden. I promise you, if you

can help them get through those years and in the scheme of things,
there arent that many years where our kids demand that much of our
time - youll have them in the profession for many years to come. Its a
small investment for a large gain.
Its about thinking long term, not short term. Let me tell you a
story that illustrates what I mean. When I interviewed at Bloomberg back
at the end of 2011 I was 7 months pregnant. I was unhappy in my current
position, but figured no one would hire someone that pregnant. I
interviewed anyhow, at the suggestion of a friend. That same person
coached me to not be apologetic about the pregnancy it was nothing to
be embarrassed about and had nothing to do with my ability to do the
job. Nonetheless, I was shocked to receive a job offer that would give
me a three month maternity leave after only working for two months. A
number of months after returning to work I told my boss that I thought he
was brave to hire someone so pregnant. He looked at me, confused, and
said, You were the right person for the job. We had looked for a while
before meeting you. We were willing to lose you for 3 months to have
you for the duration.
And thats really what it comes down. Its really simple. We need
to think about the long game. We need to stop thinking that a maternity
leave, going on flextime to raise a child, or trying to achieve balance
between work and family is something insurmountable. We need to
consider different possibilities for different people, with no prejudice.
Its not worse, or less committed, to take time off or have a reduced
schedule its just a different way to get there. We need to stop thinking
that its anti-feminist to treat women differently. We are different. We

have different needs and different concerns, and we need different

We need to decide where we want women to be at our law firms
and organizations presumably with equal representation in the partner
ranks, C-level positions and on committees and then we need to work to
get there. Its short term thinking that gets us in trouble. If we want
women in those roles, we need to create an environment that makes that
possible, and we need to make it happen now. All law firms say that
retaining women is important to them. If so, lets aspire to have less
talk, and more action.