Woman In The Law

There is an article on MSN, written by Jay MacDonald of Bankrate.com, titled “Do you suffer bag-lady syndrome?”. This is a really interesting article about how even wealthy and powerful women often feel that their money and security is ephemeral. My mind focused on the stats in the article:

“Being single costs 80% that of a couple, and women are seven times more likely to be single and live six years longer," says Boyle. "Given a 50% divorce rate and that the average age of widowhood is 56…"

Now take a look at the demographic information published by the ABA on women in law. Clearly the number of women in law schools surpasses that of men and that demographic is also rising throughout all the traditional structures of the legal profession.

Now take a look around you and note the ratio of women to men among non-billable staff. Granted I don’t have any stats and this is not scientific, but I don’t think it will be disputed that non-billable staff positions are held more by women then men.

These stats and observations make the point that women live longer but are also single longer then their male counterparts. They also state that being single costs more then being coupled. This means that female attorneys and staff are going to be working longer. It is not hard to see, given the rigors of a legal career in its present form, that women will force changes on the business of law. I suggest that these changes will focus on how not to burn themselves out and how to create organizations that value quality of life issues that can be supportive of a longer career.

When I weave all this together in my mind I get excited. Change always offers opportunity. In the not too distant future, the legal profession will be “molded upon” issues important to women, instead of as it is now, just “responding to” issues important to women.

What is this vision? What is that quality of life? How will this demographic shift imprint itself on the business of law? Will women mimic the patterns of the male dominated past or will they break that model and strike a completely new creation?