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Is Life Better for Women at Dorsey?

After reading about the recent ratings of the Top Law Firms for Women, Bruce MacEwen decided to speak with Marianne Short, managing partner of Dorsey & Whitney, which made the top 50 -- and he's posted the extensive interview here. MacEwen explains that he decided to interview Short because "of all the 50 firms [named as best for women], Dorsey is the only one that is both in the AmLaw 100 and which is led by a woman.

According to Short, firms are making considerable progress towards accommodating the desire for work-life balance. Her firm developed a program that allows for flex-time for men, women or anyone without children to attend to family obligations. Short also adds that there's no resistance to this program from her firm and no "face time" requirements that force people into the office on the weekend. 

Short cites statistics to show that the firm is making progress. She says that five years ago, 28 percent of fifth- through seventh-year associates were women, while today the number is 50 percent. MacEwen finds this a powerful number, though I'm a little skeptical -- I think that other factors may explain the retention rate, such as increased law school tuition costs forcing women to stay in the workforce longer to repay loans and more women deferring children until they advance up the corporate ladder. The better metric would have been a comparison of working moms as fifth- and seventh-year associates.

Based on this interview, it seems that Dorsey & Whitney is a great place to work for women, as well as all lawyers who want an outside life. And indeed, Dorsey & Whitney has a female managing partner, which is highly unusual for large firms. At the same time, is Short's portrayal accurate? Does everyone at the firm really support the flex-time program? Or is Short more inclined to focus on the benefits -- either because she's a woman who succeeded at the firm or because she's a managing partner? Take a look at the interview and send us your comments.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 22, 2007 at 04:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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