The recently released Law360 2022 Glass Ceiling Report on Women In Law shows that major firms have made almost no progress on bringing women into the top leadership and partner levels. Women make up at least 50% of law school graduates, as they have for a generation, and comprise around 50% of the associates at major firms. Yet, according to the Report, barely 24% of equity partners at major firms are women.
One solution? Remote work.
A research paper published by a team of economists studying work from home found that one-third of US workers would quit or start looking for another job if told to return to the workplace five days a week. And, as Bloomberg reports, “women, more likely to be primary care-givers for children or other family members, value the remote option more than men.” Add to this the fact that law and finance are among the industries most committed to a return to office work, and it seems likely that a push by law firms to bring everyone back will do nothing to improve the gender disparity.
Remote work is not a silver bullet: law firms’ stubborn adherence to quantitative metrics, rather than qualitative performance, also hampers diversity. But it’s a start. Firms that signal a willingness to think differently about the paths to success available to their attorneys will surely promote more women and diverse lawyers and, in turn, attract more talent. By the same token, failing to offer remote work as a real option for working lawyers could turn out to be a missed opportunity for firms.