Women are now graduating law school in equal numbers with men. Yet litigation still seems to be a man's game. What is that about?
I first noticed the lack of women in the courtroom when I interned in the civil courts after my 1L year. There were only a handful of women who ever appeared in court--and I don't think I saw any woman try a case that entire summer.
When I interned in the DA's office, there were equal numbers of male and female prosecutors. But when I observed other matters during morning docket call (in a court of general jurisdiction) there were few women. In fact, the only women who appeared were there for family-law matters. Although this was a small, rural jurisdiction where there isn't much high-end civil litigation going on, anyway.
But today I was in a packed courtroom in one of the largest cities in the U.S. The men outnumbered the women at least 5 to 1. Most of the women were young associates, like me, who were accompanying their bosses. (Although I was actually alone today.) A couple more were ad litems. (One of the female ad litems was wearing a dark pin-striped suit jacket with khakis, a tank top and canvas platform wedges. The ones where the heels are made out of hemp or something. Really, how to you graduate from law school without enough sense to realize this is a huge fashion don't?) My fashion-related digression aside, my point is that civil courtrooms continue to be dominated by men.
Now, to be fair, they were mostly men over the age of 50. I certainly don't expect to see hoards of first and second year male or female associates arguing big cases. So perhaps part of the problem is that it is the most experienced attorneys who are filling the courtrooms. I am sure that there are far more male than female litigators in the 50-year-old range. And, in fact, of those young associates merely there for observation, there did appear to be more women than men.
So I guess the real question is, are there no women in the courtroom because there aren't yet enough experienced female litigators, or are women just not going into litigation--or staying in litigation, which I have been told numerous times is not an area amenable to balancing a family life?