written by guest blogger Caren Ulrich Stacy
The lack of women lawyers in the upper ranks at law firms has been a problem for decades, and it’s only getting worse.
Although there is typically a 50/50 gender split at the entry level, only sixteen percent of partners are women. And, to further exacerbate the pipeline issue, this year marks the fourth consecutive annual decline in the number of mid-/senior-level female associates in large law firms.
No one seems to debate that this is an important issue that warrants attention. But it also seems that no one knows exactly what to do about it. So, we talk about it. We brainstorm. We come up with ideas and then dissect them to the point that nothing ever gets done because the solution is not easily achievable.
Four major law firms—Baker Botts, Sidley, Cooley, and Hogan Lovells—are finally moving past the “talk” stage into serious action. To replenish the leaky pipeline, they are banding together to pilot a new initiative called the OnRamp Fellowship.
The Fellowship is a re-entry platform for women lawyers who have taken a break from practicing for one reason or another. These returning women broaden their skills, experience, and legal contacts through one-year, paid fellowships at top law firms through complex legal work and training provided by legal career development experts and CLE vendors. There are fellowship opportunities this year in fifteen cities across the United States, including Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
The goal is to increase gender diversity in law firms.
But, for this initiative to succeed, the word must get out to women lawyers who want to return. You can help by telling two people and asking them to tell two people. Post an announcement about the OnRamp Fellowship on LinkedIn and Twitter. “Share” this blog post with your colleagues. Direct anyone who is interested to http://www.OnRampFellowship.com.
A little “action” on your part will go a long way in helping us to increase gender diversity in the profession.