Over the past several decades, women have made great strides in the legal profession and many are now seen in highly visible and influential positions. However, they do not enjoy the same diversity of career options as their male counterparts owing to a number of factors relating to the culture of the legal profession. Despite this, new opportunities keep opening up thanks to the efforts of women lawyers who have succeeded in the legal profession.
One of the major reasons that draw women to the legal profession is the ability to make a positive change and to help their clients. Despite the challenges, women lawyers have successfully helped thousands of women in children by pursuing family law cases. Cases of domestic violence and abuse are areas where women lawyers are known to thrive. They also specialize in counselling women about their legal rights to child custody, support payments and estate planning. Women lawyers have also worked successfully with charities and NGOs by helping them to continue their services and overcome legal and procedural barriers to achieving their mission.
Another area where women lawyers have made a mark is business. Women lawyers are becoming visible as corporate lawyers where they regularly advise businesses on legal matters. This includes anti-trust and competition laws, employment law and a wider range of ethical issues in business. However, this requires that women lawyers acquire a sound understanding of business issues, especially relating to the industry where they intend to specialize in.
Working in a Law Firm
The safest and first choice for fresh law graduates is to seek a position at a reputable law firm such Groth & Associates, which is based in Toledo, Ohio. Law firms offer a well-planned and certain career path provided that you put in hard work and many years of patience. Although law firms traditionally maintain a conservative culture, there are many that are embracing women as part of their team and are viewing them as serious-minded lawyers. These firms have made dramatic adjustments in their hiring policies and work practices to make it easier for women lawyers to build a career there. These include offering maternal leaves as well as part time work.
In order to get off to a flying start in their careers, women law students need to chart out a course for their career while they are still students. Due to the challenges and culture of the legal profession, openings tend to be limited for women lawyers. The best approach is to seek mentoring and shadowing opportunities with established lawyers, especially those they come across in the course of their 4-year education. This gives women lawyers professional experience as well as the opportunity to support their knowledge with practical aspects of the profession. Until they find a permanent position, women lawyers should also reach out and seek volunteer positions which will give them the opportunity to make connections and learn about the profession.
Being a lawyer doesn’t mean that women lawyers’ career options are limited to the law firm. While there are many options to specialize in within a law firm career, women lawyers practice regularly within the judiciary and many have risen to the ranks of judges in courts throughout the country. Being a lawyer also opens doors to careers in many associated fields such as politics, business and even setting up a private service. Many women are part of the legal teams of large corporations and public organizations, while many offer advice to politicians on policy making and conducting election campaigns.
There are many inspirational examples of women lawyers running successful careers in law. Whether you start off as a volunteer, intern or legal assistant, through hard work and consistency, you can create a successful career for yourself in the law firm or in the courts.
“Careers in the Courtroom” infographic created by Litigation Services.