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Bar News - July 13, 2012


Taking Action to Achieve Gender Equality

For more than 20 years, the New Hampshire Bar Association has been studying and seeking ways to eliminate gender bias in the practice of law. Beginning with the Task Force on Women in the Bar’s first gender bias survey in 1987, the Bar Association has supported efforts to discover existing biases and to work to remedy this important barrier to equal opportunity in our state. The NHBA’s Gender Equality Committee (GEC) subsequently conducted surveys using the same questions (and adding some additional questions) in 1997 and 2009.

The results of the 2009 survey demonstrated that we have not yet achieved gender equality for female attorneys in New Hampshire. One of the most striking problems is the fact that male attorneys, with six or more years of experience, continue to earn more than female attorneys. This issue is of concern given the protections of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The retention and advancement of women in our profession is also a serious problem. While the percentage of female law school graduates has grown, the percentage of female attorneys practicing in New Hampshire has not grown at the same rate.

A related issue is the fact that female attorneys with 10 or more years of experience continue to be less likely to become partners than similarly situated male attorneys. Work/life balance issues appear to be a contributing factor. According to the survey, many female attorneys still believe that they need to postpone parenthood for their careers, or make sacrifices in their careers to care for their families. Finally, conscious and unconscious gender bias continues to exist in our law firms, government agencies, and courts. These issues are not just of importance to women, but also to the entire bar. These conditions, and the perception of them, limit the achievements, and deprive the profession of the benefit of the full participation of an enormous pool of eager and talented members of the Bar.

In taking action to remedy the issues identified by the survey, the Board of Governors approved the GEC’s Initiative Training Series, a certification process by which participants can earn recognition for promoting gender equality and diversity in their firms/organizations. The training is a four-part series of workshops for law firms, judges, and government lawyers on employment practices and career development strategies aimed at expanding opportunities for women in the profession. Certificates of Completion for attending all four of the training sessions will be awarded and can be used in a firm’s diversity initiative and its recruitment of new attorneys.

The Initiative Training Series is designed to educate New Hampshire’s leadership in our profession on the issues of: (1) pay equality; (2) eliminating gender bias in recruiting, mentoring, evaluating and promoting women; (3) work/life balance and company culture; and (4) training and implementation of initiatives to promote the advancement of women. In order to achieve real change, it is critical that New Hampshire’s leadership participate in this program. We are urging law firm, court, and state agency leadership to participate in this important process.

The GEC has secured nationally recognized speakers and New Hampshire leaders on these issues for each of the four training sessions:

Jacqueline Cooke and Evelyn Murphy will speak at the pay equality training session. Jacqueline Cooke is the Regional Administrator of the Boston Regional Office (serving ME, NH, MA, RI, and CT) of US Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau. The Women’s Bureau was established within the Department of Labor in 1920 in order to formulate standards and policies to promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase the efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment. One of the Women’s Bureau’s priority issues is pay equity. For more information on the Women’s Bureau, please go to www.dol.gov. Evelyn Murphy is the former Lt. Governor of Massachusetts and the creator of the WAGE project. WAGE is a non-profit entity in Massachusetts created to end gender discrimination in the American workplace. WAGE provides education and training for working women, advice for CEOs of businesses, nonprofit institutions and public agencies on how to ensure they are paying and promoting women employees fairly, and reporting on the status of the wage gap and age discrimination throughout America. For more information on the WAGE project, please go to www.wageproject.org.

Lauren Stiller Rikleen will speak at the training session on eliminating gender bias in recruiting, mentoring, evaluating, and promoting women. Rikleen is a nationally recognized expert on developing a thriving, diverse workforce. She launched the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership to help businesses and other organizations create a culture where their professionals can advance and flourish, and she is the author of Ending the Gauntlet: Removing Barriers to Women’s Success in the Law, as well as many other publications. For more information, please go to www.rikleeninstitute.com.

Betsy Black will speak at the training session on work-life balance/corporate culture. Black, a former NH attorney, consults and coaches here and throughout the country on stress-management and creating a life that reflects your values. Her published works include the article, Changing Your Practice to Achieve Greater Happiness and Success. For more information, visit www.betsyblackconsulting.com.

Finally, Julie Moore will speak at the training session on implementation of initiatives to promote the advancement of women. Moore is a frequent speaker, investigator and trainer in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and elsewhere on anti-discrimination, diversity, sensitivity training and company policies. She has published numerous articles on employment policies and practices and discrimination issues. For more information, visit www.employmentpg.com. The GEC also plans to invite other female attorneys to speak at this session.

The training sessions will take place at the Bar Center:
  • September 11, 2012 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. (pay equality) 
  • October 11, 2012 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. (recruiting, mentoring, evaluating, and promoting women)
  • November 8, 2012 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. (work/life balance and company culture)
  • January 10, 2013 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. (training and implementation of initiatives)
The NHBA provided some of the funding for this initiative which has allowed us to provide the training at very reasonable rates. The costs are as follows (Early Bird deadline is August 31, 2012):

Individual Rate (for all four sessions)
Early Bird individual registration fee (register by August 31, 2012): $40
Individual registration fee (AFTER August 31, 2012): $50

Firm/Organization Rate (any 5 attorneys per session)
Early Bird firm registration fee (register by August 31, 2012): $125
Firm registration fee (AFTER August 31, 2012): $150

Registration form.

Space will be limited. Please contact Member Services Coordinator Rose Anocibar with questions at 603-715-3214.

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