Monday, March 20, 2006

Several readers have informed me that there are no longer any ties in hockey games, under the new post-lockout rules. Shows how much I pay attention. I stand corrected.

There was an article in Sunday's New York Times about the lack of female partners at top law firms. We had a good laugh about it on the partner e-mail list. We'd love to have more female partners. They're much nicer to look at during the meetings, and for the most part they do excellent work. They have to do excellent work, or they'd never have made partner. The problem isn't us. It's them. They leave. They go elsewhere. We don't tell them to. We encourage them to stay here. We do what we can. They leave anyway. Maybe they know something the rest of us don't. Maybe they aspire to a different kind of lifestyle. Maybe they don't want to deal with all of the men.

I'd be thrilled to find a retention program that worked. I'd be delighted to figure out the secret and poach all the talented female associates away from our competitors. While we're at it, even better if the secret worked for minorities, gay and lesbian attorneys, the blind and deaf, paraplegics, and those people who age too quickly. Progeria, that's it. Right? Variety is terrific. Different perspectives, different points of view, different people to talk to. I don't think very many of us like the fact that our partner meetings are filled with people just like us. It's a room of middle-aged white guys with pallid skin and bags under our eyes, all wearing the same suit. Women's outfits come in slightly more colors. It's refreshing that way. (And I'm sure blind attorneys dress in all sorts of fun colors too, since they can't see what they're doing when they take the clothes from the closet.)

Yet the media wants to accuse us of creating an inhospitable environment and making it difficult for women to stay long enough to make partner. It's not our fault the only bathrooms on the partner floor are men's rooms, with a trough instead of individual stalls. It's expensive to retrofit the building. It's not our fault the partnership committee requires candidates to bench press 200 pounds and do 50 chin-ups. I'm kidding. Not even the men can bench press 200 pounds. Most of us haven't been to a gym since it was required as part of our high school curriculum.

You know the secret for getting women to stay until they make partner? I'm all ears. Until then, the mainstream media should focus on why we have as many women as we do. Thirteen female partners. Well, twelve and a half. It's progress.

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