Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP has a long history of advancing the careers of women at the firm. In 2007 the firm launched the Manatt Women’s Initiative to formalize its commitment to the advancement of women at Manatt and in the legal profession. The mission of the Manatt Women’s Initiative is to help Manatt’s women professionals navigate the professional and personal challenges that too often become barriers to women’s success in the law.
The national statistics for women at law firms are grim. According to the 2011 report of the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), nationally, although 44% of seventh-year associates are women, only 25% of law firm non-equity partners are women, and barely 15% of law firm equity partners are women. Women are also poorly represented in law firm management and, according to the NAWL report, are often paid less than their male peers with comparable performance.
Manatt’s commitment to women has resulted in far better statistics at the firm than the national statistics set forth in the NAWL report. At Manatt, 57% of the associates are women, 30% of the non-equity partners are women, and 20% of the equity partners are women. In addition, women comprise 25% of the members of the Board of Directors.
But we want to do better, and we are working to do better.
What have we accomplished?
One of the first accomplishments of the Women’s Initiative was the creation of a formal partner track flextime program available to all professionals, but largely used by women with young children. It is now routine at Manatt for women working flextime schedules to become partner and to maintain a part-time status as partners. Indeed, the full- or part-time status of our women is not an issue in advancement decisions.
In response to specific requests from the firm’s working mothers, the firm added to its benefit package a backup childcare program, available to all Manatt employees.
The Manatt Women’s Initiative has practice-oriented activities in each office of the firm. The programs include mentoring, business development coaching, practice development tips, and special programs for working mothers, and occur throughout the year. Since bringing in client business is the major requirement for advancement in any law firm, the Women’s Initiative sponsors events with clients and other professionals that are designed to create business development opportunities for the firm’s women professionals.
Finally, the Women’s Initiative sponsors purely social opportunities in each office, so that our women professionals can get to know one another and develop the kind of natural mentoring and coworker relationships that provide advice and friendship, as we recognize that those relationships are often the ones that make the most difference in a person’s career.
With the launch of the 2012 Manatt Women’s Initiative Summit, we are expanding our commitment to women to include another part of the Manatt family—our women clients. Through the Women’s Summit, we hope to provide our women clients with interesting programs and thoughtful discussions that will enhance their professional and personal lives.
In sum, the Manatt Women’s Initiative is dedicated to helping the firm’s women professionals and women clients successfully balance their lives and work, advance their careers, and enjoy their work lives to the fullest extent possible.
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