By now, most of you have heard about actor Alex Borstein’s memorable acceptance speech at Sunday night’s Emmy Awards. Closing her remarks, Borstein shared the story of her grandmother, who was awaiting execution in a death camp, but took the risk to step out of line. “And for that,” Borstein concluded “I am here, and my children are here. So step out of line, ladies, step out line.”
Borstein’s advice is spot on for women in the law. I started my own law firm at the age of 29 – back in 1993 when it was far less common for a young woman and top-tier law school grad – because I didn’t want to wait another five years to become partner at someone else’s shop. So I jumped the line instead, with no regrets.
Fast forward a quarter of century and things are changing…or are they? According to Forbes, gender imbalances persist at law firms. Origination credits, passed down like legacies, still block women from enjoying the full financial fruits of their work as relationship partners. And now, a $5 million initiative, Move the Needle, funded by big law firms and GCs will work together to create programs to promote diversity.
Yet, is there any reason to believe that efforts that failed in the past will work this time around? Women can choose to wait it out and see if it all works out. That’s certainly a valid plan.
But for those women who are impatient, or for whom a seat at the table isn’t nearly as rewarding enough as owning the damn conference room or who simply see no future in the path that they’ve been told to travel, then why not step out of line? Because there’s a whole universe of opportunities waiting on the other side.
Check out the MyShingle Mom-Owned Law Firm series.