Invitation to Sign: LACBA-WLALA Joint Task Force on the Promotion and Retention of Women Lawyers: Call to Action for Government Offices

Call to Action 2021

Signatories to the Call to Action agree that by 2026 they will have established initiatives in each of the three priority areas listed below to retain and advance women lawyers. Each signatory is free to choose the options that work best for that government agency, or to create its own. To the extent a participating employer already has an initiative in place, the employer may choose to deepen its commitment to that initiative. For each option, signatories commit to ensuring that their initiatives identify and address the specific needs of diverse women, including women of color, LGBTQ+, women with disabilities, and women veterans.

Participating employers also agree to participate in a coalition with the LACBA- WLALA Joint Task Force to provide a forum for continued collaboration, cross-agency sharing of measurements of success, and a formal network of agency leaders with a continuing commitment to retaining and advancing women lawyers.

Promote the Advancement of Women

  • Commit to Following the Mansfield Rule: “Consider at least 30% women, LGBTQ+, and attorneys of color for all leadership and governance roles, senior lawyer hiring, … leader promotions.” Include female attorneys in client meetings and on the teams for significant or high-profile cases, and give them leading roles on these matters.
  • Evaluation/Compensation Metrics: Reevaluate and revise traditional evaluation and compensation metrics that have a disparate impact on women and people of color.
  • Create Leadership and Relationship Building Opportunities: Provide opportunities for women to develop internal and external relationships that will contribute to the agency’s mission. Create opportunities for women attorneys to build long-term relationships with client agencies, agency and community partners, and other stakeholders, obtain leadership roles, and take on leading roles on cases and transactions.
  • Sponsorship: Work with senior female attorneys, and section and division supervisors and managers to create and implement individualized leadership plans that best position them for promotional, leadership and supervisory roles, and pair them with senior lawyers in management.
  • Celebrate the Successes of Women Attorneys: Highlight the successes of women in the office/agency.
  • Equity in Management and Leadership Roles: Women have represented 40 to 50 percent of law school graduates for over 30 years. Law schools now have a majority of women graduates. In recognition of the large number of women in the legal profession, seek to increase your current representation of women senior managers by 25% and women division and section supervisors by 25% over the next five years. Work to increase your representation of women in future senior management and middle management, and senior nonmanagerial attorney paygrade positions to at least 45%.

Institutionalize Your Commitment to Gender Parity

  • Office-Wide Women’s Initiative Committee: Create a office-wide committee that includes male and female supervisors in office leadership roles to monitor the progress and professional development of female attorneys at different stages of their careers and sponsor programs and policies that advance women.
  • Maintain Data: Maintain current and accurate data on hiring, training, opportunities, promotions, compensation, and departure by gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and disability.Analyze your office’s compensation system to evaluate whether it is being fairly applied across genders at the line attorney, division and section supervisor and senior management levels.Gather data about why women leave the office through exit interviews, anecdotal evidence, and client feedback. Report this data to the executive office and take concrete actions to combat the identified disparities.
  • Parental Leave Policy: Ensure employees are aware of the family leave policy for all attorneys in connection with the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. Encourage employees to take advantage of this policy.Allow parents to “ramp up” when they return to work without being penalized for their absence. Continue to offer paid parental leave or childcare assistance for employees who are dealing with crises such as extended school closures due to COVID-19.
  • Invest in Families Challenged by COVID-19 and Other Emergencies: Support flexible, remote, and part-time scheduling options for working parents or those caring for a family member, and provide supportive resources for these families.
  • Implicit Bias Training: Implement annual implicit bias training by a trained outside professional, including actual steps attorneys can take to combat implicit bias in areas such as hiring, evaluation, and promotion. Educate all attorneys and legal support professionals on how to be an ally when bias occurs, and how to proactively address biased comments and behavior.
  • Harassment and Discrimination: Ensure that the office’s sexual harassment training and reporting procedures, and its treatment of pregnant employees and applicants, comply with applicable laws and with best practices. Broadcast your policy for handling complaints of harassment and discrimination to attorneys and interns. Create an avenue for anonymous reporting. Maintain data on complaints, and review for patterns.
  • Flexible Work Schedules: Be proactive about creating flexible work schedules and reduced hours. Offer arrangements that allow working from home, job sharing, sabbaticals, and the opportunity to take a leave without pay and return to the agency at a later date. Institute a written flexible schedule/reduced hours policy for all attorneys and encourage all genders to take advantage of it. Keep the participants in flexible schedule/reduced hours programs on a promotional, supervisory and leadership track, to the extent desired, commensurate with the hours worked by the attorney and other criteria for advancement. Actively monitor those attorneys on reduced hour arrangements to discuss scheduling, and to ascertain whether the attorney is still receiving appropriate assignments and opportunities in the courtroom and with clients.
  • Open Up the Dialogue: Include efforts aimed at retention and promotion of women in evaluation of leadership and compensation decisions. Discuss issues relating to the retention and promotion of women during any promotional or paygrade advancement process and present data on gender parity issues. Present results to executive management. Encourage executive management to examine how bias may creep into the hiring, evaluation, and promotion of female attorneys in both the promotional and paygrade advancement process and into leadership roles, as well as to the assignment of work to women.

Invest in Mentorship, Professional Development and Training

  • Mentoring and Sponsorship Program: Establish a formal mentoring program for women lawyers, including a program that specifically addresses women of color, LGBTQ+, women with disabilities, and women veterans, and a sponsorship program for senior attorneys and division and section supervisors to provide opportunities to help them to advance in the organization.
  • Create Skill-Building Opportunities: Ensure that junior attorneys have stretch opportunities, such as oral argument, examining witnesses, taking depositions, and leading drafting teams.
  • Formal Training Program: Develop a formal training and/or coaching program that covers technical legal skills, leadership, and management skills such as public speaking and leadership/managerial skills.

LACBA-WLALA Joint Task Force Signatory Page