Gender inequality.jpg

In ALM’s “The Careerist,” last week, Vivia Chen wrote a compelling article about gender inequality at a particular NY law firm.  In a nutshell:

  • Firm hires consultant to see if there is bias in reviewing attorneys
  • Consultant finds that male attorneys systematically reviewed higher, numerically
  • Firm chooses to do nothing about the results

I think reviewing an employee, based on anything other than performance (gender, race, religion, etc.), is despicable.  Finding out that your firm is guilty of such transgressions, and doing nothing about it…well, that’s just inhuman.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
— Often attributed to Edmund Burke

The only issue with the article is that the consequences of reviews — good or bad — are losing their relevance. 

Chen states that the numerical scores count more for partnership, which, I agree, has been true for decades.  What she is referring to, however, is “service partnership.”  How do I know this?  Because reviews don’t matter a lick if you're bringing in a significant amount of business.

All signs in the industry show that “service partnership” is going away.  Today’s “service partner” is tomorrow’s “career associate.”  In a few years, almost every new BigLaw partner will be a revenue-generator.  If, eventually, money talks and everything else walks, the partnership playing field may actually become more even than it’s ever been.

If you are an attorney in a protected class, keep up the noble fight.  Know, however, that your ultimate weapon is your book of business.  If you can learn to be a successful rainmaker, which is easier to do than you think, no one can deny you partnership. And if they somehow come up with some way to do that, you're in demand everywhere else.

Mike O'Horo

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