yes, virginia, there's still a glass ceiling but it has a silver lining

Here's the bad news from Above the Law:

There’s a serious gender-based wage gap in the legal profession. Female partners make $66K less than male partners on average. If you’re a female partner who has thought about tackling that gap with a lawsuit, you may be interested in the case of Alyson J. Kirleis.

Kirleis, a shareholder at Dickie McCamey in Pennsylvania, has been pursuing a sexual discrimination suit . . . accus[ing] Dickie McCamey of paying female lawyers less than males and alleg[ing that] a male partner [told her] that a woman with children should relinquish her partnership and work only part-time. Kirleis, who has worked at the firm since 1988, also claimed she was told by another male partner that the role of women lawyers was to prepare lawsuits for trials that would be handled by male lawyers.

Surprising?  Not really. And worse than that, a federal appellate court just held that Kirleis cannot sue for her injuries because she's a shareholder and director, entitling her to share in firm governance and share in its profits (understanding that "firm governance" is an oxymoron).

According to the appellate court's opinion, if you have the smallest bit of power, you're not protected by the federal civil rights laws.  Shoot, law firms everywhere could make all of its attorneys equity partners, giving them, say, a hundredth of a percent of the profits and a microgram of a voting right. 

There's a silver lining here?

Yes there is.  Alyson J. Kirleisdoesn't need to work with these jackhorses one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day, one more minute.  She's a lawyer, for heaven's sake, and a lawyer good enough to be an equity partner in a woman-hating, mother-baiting, troglodyte-loving law firm. /1

She may not yet have acquired the skills necessary to start her own firm but she's no doubt very very good at what she does for a living.  And she doesn't need no stinkin' badges.  She passed the Bar Exam!  She can practice anywhere she wants with anyone she wants.

Alyson!!  Come take our September She Negotiates course (TBA) if you need some practice negotiating everything you need to get your own shop up and running to compete with the good old boys (yes I was once a "Philadelphia lawyer" but in the L.A. office of Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz). 

Success, after all, is the best revenge.

We coach and consult too!


1/ Speaking from Kirleis' point of view, of course.  I have no evidence of gender discrimination before me.  But if I believed, as Kirleis clearly does, that the men of this law firm discriminated against her in the way she alleges, you bet I'd be celebrating my separation from them.