An article on law.com explores one of the many ways in which gender imbalance is increasingly being noted and addressed by members of the legal profession.
In mid-October, Chris Arnold, a partner at Mayer Brown who was named by Chambers and Partners as one of the year’s top corporate derivatives lawyers in the U.K., protested the lack of women on that and other ranking lists. Overwhelmed by the online support for his protest, he decided to take it one step further, and asked that his name be removed from the 2020 list.
“All but one of the brilliant and inspirational women derivatives lawyers have been excluded from the Ranked Lawyers,” he wrote in his original post, “and the position across the other capital markets practices is not much better.”
A few days later, Arnold updated his position, stating that he had “written an open letter to the editors [at Chambers] asking them to remove me from their rankings until women represent at least 25% of the list (i.e. just 4+ more women!).”
He also invited “the 16 other brilliant male ‘Ranked Lawyers’ below to join me, and I ask colleagues, clients, peers and friends to show their support by liking this post.”
While the named lawyers had not yet responded to his challenge by the time the law.com article appeared, the protest did produce a response from Chambers and Partners. The company posted a list of its recent diversity initiatives on its website, and invited Arnold to “continue the conversation.”
While this may fall short in Arnold’s view of the steps that need to be taken to address the lack of recognition accorded to talented female lawyers, and to encourage all women in legal careers, the entire incident – from the fact that the Linkedin post went viral to the subsequent coverage of Arnold’s protest by law.com and several other publications – suggests that the issue has (at long last) risen to the surface of mainstream consciousness, and can no longer be ignored by law firms and the companies that work with them without fear of public backlash.
As Arnold also said, “And, no, redesignating ‘Senior Statesmen’ as ‘Senior Statespeople’ does not make up for it (especially when they are all men). Women lawyer role models should be recognised.”
What is the status at your firm of initiatives to improve gender balance, not to mention other kids of diversity? I would be interested to know your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to law-firm management. You can contact me either in the comments section below, or directly via email.