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In Monday's NLJ: Few Women Go Solo

Women lawyers prefer to fly in flocks, suggests the headline from an article to appear Monday in The National Law Journal, Women Choosing Not to Fly Solo. Writer Leigh Jones reports on a massive, decade-long study tracking the careers of 4,500 lawyers. Of the lawyers in the study who went solo, just a third were women.

This seems counterintuitive to the notion that a solo practice can be more family friendly than working at a larger firm. As my Legal Blog Watch co-author Carolyn Elefant puts it at her MyShingle blog: "You'd think that women looking for work life balance would find solo practice appealing, because when you work for yourself, you gain control over the hours you work and the hours you handle." The NLJ piece suggests that one factor keeping women at larger firms is that the reliability of steady pay and benefits outweighs the scheduling freedom that solo work can provide. Elefant has a different theory:

"My own belief is that women themselves are driving lawyers away from solo practice. As I posted here previously, when women demand equality in the profession, they're usually referring to equality at big law firms. Women who start and head their own practices, no matter how prominent, simply don't count. As a result, younger women don't view solo practice as an option."

Let me throw in one other thought: It is a fallacy to maintain that going solo is necessarily liberating. I can attest to the fact that many solos work hours equal to or greater than their larger-firm counterparts, and they do so without the safety net of partners and associates to fall back on. No doubt, a solo practice can be family friendly, but it can also be all-consuming. Whether you are trying to schedule a two-week vacation or simply slip away to your son's after-school recital, there is much to be said for having a partner to cover you.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 14, 2007 at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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