In response to an exodus of female talent turned off by the profession’s reputation for not being family-friendly, law firm culture is changing, reports the Los Angeles Times. But it still has a long way to go. Women have accounted for at least half of law school graduates and new hires at the nation’s biggest firms for the last 20 years. But they tend not to stay around long enough to make partner and share in the firm’s profits or define its mission. About 42% of women leave the profession in mid-career, and many others defect to government or corporate jobs with more manageable hours.
Only 16% of equity partners nationwide are women, and the top management is less than 8% female. “It’s pretty much one of the worst, if not the worst” profession for the advancement of women, said one expert. But law firms are beginning to realize that the female attrition rate can negatively affect the bottom line. “It costs a law firm between $200,000 and $500,000 to lose a second-year associate,” Deborah Epstein Henry, founder of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC.