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Bar News - April 17, 2009

An Open Letter to Bar Members: 2009 NHBA Gender Equality Survey


In 1988 the NHBA Gender Equality Committee conducted its first Survey on the Status of Women in the Legal Profession. Ten years later the committee conducted another. Today, the time has come to once again evaluate our profession’s progress in ensuring the fair treatment and equality of all its members and participants. To this end, the Gender Equality Committee will issue its third survey – this time electronically – at the beginning of May to all NH Bar members. I am writing to support this effort and to encourage all members of the Bar to do the same.

The first survey revealed an historic disparity in earning and promotion between male and female attorneys with equal experience and education. The second survey – conducted in 1998 - revealed an increase in that disparity in just ten years. The upcoming survey will measure our progress and address new challenges that face the Bar as a whole.

The Bar has changed much since 1998 and new issues have developed that affect both male and female attorneys, including: work-life balance; flexible scheduling; partner-track elections; and, for newer attorneys, the reality of substantial law school debt. In addition, as the general population ages, more and more attorneys will be faced with not just childcare issues, but with caring for elderly parents.

In the fall, the Gender Equality Committee will publish the results of the survey and will have the data necessary to fulfill its essential function, which includes educating and supporting gender equality in the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Only by conducting a careful, periodic measurement of the experiences of our individual members can we hope to illuminate our successes and ascertain those areas that impede our progress.

Please join me, Ellen Arnold, president of the NH Bar Association, and Kristen Mendoza, president of the NH Women’s Bar Association in supporting the Gender Equality Committee by completing the electronic survey when you receive it. By doing so, you contribute to the continued improvement of equality of all members of our Association.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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