Shelline Bennett, Morin I. Jacob, and Scott Tiedemann Quoted in Law360 Article on Gender Diversity in Legal Profession

Category: Press Release
Date: Apr 19, 2016 12:00 AM

LCW Partners, Shelline BennettMorin I. Jacob, and Scott Tiedemann, were quoted in a Law360 article "Employment Firms Remain Tops For Female Attorneys," by Vin Gurrieri.

Law360, New York (April 19, 2016, 10:16 PM ET) -- Employment firms over the past year continued to outpace their general practice rivals in blazing a trail of gender diversity, boasting a greater percentage of female attorneys and partners than their peers, according to data compiled by Law360.

Of the employment firms, California-based Liebert Cassidy Whitmore had the highest percentage of female attorneys at 52 percent. More than 48 percent of Liebert Cassidy [Whitmore]'s partners were also women, and these statistics landed the firm the fourth spot on Law360's list of the top 100 firms for female attorneys.

Liebert Cassidy [Whitmore]'s Shelline Bennett, who is managing partner of the firm's Fresno office, says she pulled out a folder that contained a faded article from May 1992 shortly before speaking with Law360 last week. The article stated that the Fresno County Women Lawyers Association had to act to help women lawyers break through the glass ceiling.

Out of curiosity, Bennett took a look what the breakdown was in 1992 for partners with 20 years' experience, which she currently has under her belt. The result: About 93 percent of partners fitting that profile were white men and only about 4 percent were women.

"I'm sure those numbers are different now," Bennett said. "It gave me a good sense of how far we've come, but also that we have a long way to go."

Creating Opportunities

Morin Jacob, the managing partner of Liebert Cassidy [Whitmore]'s San Francisco office, says that early in her career, when she was an associate at another firm, a male partner told her that she'd never be the first chair in a trial.

"I didn't know what to attribute that to," Jacob said. "I didn't appreciate how limiting it was to be told that. It wasn't until I got to Liebert Cassidy Whitmore that I saw how different and wonderful an environment could be."

It was in her first year at Liebert Cassidy [Whitmore] nearly a decade ago that Jacob recounts a senior male partner telling her that she should serve as the first chair in a particular case he was overseeing — a stark contrast to her previous experience.

"Opportunities are yours for the taking if you demonstrate you want to take on certain types of cases," Jacob said.

Bennett says that it's important to provide female lawyers with the chance to have important face time with clients in order to build a rapport.

"Here, we try to push attorneys, even junior associates, to get them out there in front of clients," Bennett said, noting that "didn't happen so much" when she started out in the early 1990s.

Flexibility Programs

Flexible work-time policies have long been a staple of Liebert Cassidy [Whitmore], according to managing partner Scott Tiedemann, who says the firm adopted policies for part-time work even before they became commonplace.

Those policies have multiple benefits, Tiedemann says, noting that they help the firm hold on to talented lawyers and inspire loyalty among attorneys toward the firm.

"Those policies mean women don't have to choose between having a successful career and staying home for a period of time," Tiedemann said. "I think that if a person were forced to choose working full-time and sacrificing their caretaking responsibilities, we might lose talented people."

Taking Mentorship Seriously

Jacob, for one, says her role as managing partner of Liebert Cassidy's San Francisco office includes helping younger associates set career goals and putting them on a path to achieve them.

Jacob noted that her office, by happenstance, currently has a 15-person associate cohort, all but one of whom is a woman.

While Jacob acknowledges that such a ratio shouldn't be considered the norm, she says gender balance is what firms should be striving to achieve.

"The more women you are able to recruit, the higher number of female partners you get," Jacob said. "The challenge isn't hiring women; law schools are full of them. The challenge is retaining women."

"I work with all associates to help them develop professionally and help them develop clients," Jacob said.


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