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Inviting Your Participation in Important Survey: Law Week Colorado State of the Law Firm



The following article by Gene Commander invites CWBA members to participate in Law Week Colorado's State of the Law Firm survey. Participate by June 16th to make your voice heard.

I’d like to introduce myself and encourage you to participate in a survey that’s highly relevant to female lawyers in Colorado. My company, Gene Commander Inc., advises Colorado-based law firms on the business of law. A centerpiece of our work is recommending workplace policies and practices that attract and support women lawyers so that firms can more effectively confront talent shortages. I look forward to partnering with the CWBA and learning from you about your experiences and priorities.


I invite you to participate in the inaugural State of the Law Firm Survey, which is now running in Law Week Colorado. I designed this survey for attorneys working in Colorado firms with two or more lawyers, with the purpose to learn about the well-being and status of lawyers in private practice.


As background for why I created the survey, national data shows that law firms are struggling to retain women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Female law school enrollment now surpasses that of male students, but women from all backgrounds continue to exit law firm jobs at disproportionately high rates. For example, in a survey by Above the Law, half of female associates said they planned to resign within one to two years, compared to just a third of male associates. Yet in an ABA survey, 74% of male lawyers said they believe firms are succeeding at retaining experienced women, while just 47% of female respondents held this view. This disconnect in perspectives helps perpetuate the problem.


Recognizing that state-level data on lawyers’ experiences in Colorado law firms is sparse, the State of the Law Firm Survey aims to produce actionable data that Colorado firms can use to enhance their business strategies, including better attracting and retaining women.


Many firms fail to recognize the need for policies that are attractive to women, such as flexible career path options other than the traditional equity partnership track. Firms also often do a poor job in shaping workplace cultures and practices that make women feel included and satisfied. And, unfortunately, inequitable treatment is still a piece of the puzzle: Female attorneys often experience pay disparities, are passed over for promotions after they have children, and are not included in promising business origination opportunities. And sadly, female attorneys at times are subject to demeaning comments, harassment, and microaggressions because of their gender.


The underrepresentation and attrition of women in law firms must be addressed. Indeed, I advise law firms to create workplaces where lawyers of all backgrounds can thrive. This is critical to expanding the talent pool and ensuring firms’ continued prosperity.


Many of the questions in the State of the Law Firm Survey are meant to illuminate the perspectives of female attorneys so that law firms can understand the best strategies for supporting women. Among other things, the survey asks about firms’ success in retaining women and people of color, the degree to which firms treat lawyers equitably, firms’ efforts to promote well-being, and the availability of part-time and remote work in private practice.


When the survey closes, Law Week Colorado will report on the results. In addition, I will publish articles on recommended law firm workplace policies responsive to the survey results. Research by McKinsey shows that policies supportive of equity and inclusion are linked to higher numbers of women in companies. I believe in the importance of policies like robust support for well-being, broader maternity/paternity benefits, meaningful DEI initiatives, increased part-time roles, expanded career options beyond the traditional partnership track, and strong representation of women among all levels of law firm leadership. I plan to use the survey results to help tailor advice on policies such as these to Colorado law firms.


Please make your voice heard by taking a few minutes to complete the survey here while it’s at your fingertips, and please encourage your colleagues to do the same. Thank you, and don’t hesitate to let me know how I can support the CWBA’s mission going forward.

 

Gene Commander has more than 40 years of experience in the legal industry while practicing construction law with small, midsize, regional, and national firms. He formerly served as managing shareholder in the Denver office of Polsinelli PC, an Am Law 100 national firm. Gene is now an executive business counselor for the legal and construction industries, with a special focus on business growth strategies for Colorado law firms. He can be reached at gene@genecommanderinc.com.


Visit his Linked In page at https://www.linkedin.com/in/genecommander/ or his website at https://genecommanderinc.com.

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