Building a Better Legal Profession :: The Old Blog


Googlers: Looking for our new site? by andrewbruck
October 29, 2007, 9:17 am
Filed under: Law reform

Over the weekend, we moved our rankings to a new and vastly improved website, which is housed at http://www.BetterLegalProfession.org. Since the site is brand new, there aren’t enough incoming links to it for the website to show up when you type the name of our organization into Google. If you were searching for us online, you probably ended up here instead. Anyway, click on the link above to see all of information. Thanks!



Michigan Lawyers & Part-Time Practice by refirm2007
October 28, 2007, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Law reform

Interesting, potentially controversial new findings out from Ken Dau-Schmidt et al. about part-time lawyers.

In a nutshell, we find that childcare responsibilities drive much of the differences in income and promotion experienced by men and women lawyers, and that men who miss paid work to do childcare experience the same disadvantages as women who miss paid work to do childcare. We also find that both more men and more women lawyers are missing paid work to do childcare, that they are taking longer absences from paid work to do childcare, and they are working less hours after they return to their careers.

Some of our less systematic, but more curious findings are that: in part male lawyers earn more than women lawyers because they are more interested in income than the woman lawyers; women who have kids but who do not miss paid work to do childcare are more likely to be in private practice and be a partner than women without kids, even though women without kids work more hours; and women who miss paid work to do childcare have significantly higher LSAT’s and GPA’s than women who don’t miss paid work to do childcare.

The study uses the Michigan Law alumni survey, which according to the authors is “one of the richest and largest data sets available on lawyers over much of the period that encompassed women’s move into the legal profession.”



How NOT to sell a firm diversity program by refirm2007
October 23, 2007, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Job Search Tools, Law reform

The legal employment market suffers from imperfect information. Law students considering large law firms don’t have enough information about their future employers. And much of what they DO have is of very low quality. Firms exploit this lack of accurate information to sell their diversity and work/life programs with questionable claims.

One way Building a Better Legal Profession tries to combat this problem is with a ‘Most Transparent’ and ‘Least Transparent’ chart, which looks at how New York firms performed on billable hour and pro bono reporting. But here’s a case study on how NOT to sell your diversity program, courtesy of Fish & Richardson:

Earlier this month, Fish & Richardson had the following claim posted on its website: “Multicultural Law ranked us in the top one-third of their 2007 ‘Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity’ list.” The claim was the very first bullet point of achievement on Fish’s “Diversity” page — a place where law students and clients considering the firm would inevitably look to see success in attracting and retaining talent from diverse backgrounds.

We at b.b.l.p. looked up Multicultural Law‘s website, and found that Fish & Richardson was indeed ranked number 33. That’s good. We also saw that the list was sorted in alphabetical order. . . . That’s bad.

Fish & Richardson was ranked 33 because their name starts with the letter F, not because it was more diverse than firms 34-100. Akerman Senterfitt shouldn’t be #1 just because it starts with the letter A, and Fish shouldn’t be #33 just because it’s earlier in the alphabet than Winston & Strawn.

We called Fish & Richardson to inquire, and the firm was so embarrassed it changed its website to remove the “top one-third” designation. (Too late: we still got the screen shot.) Although even now I really question why the firm continues to list being on the Top 100 as an achievement, since a) there’s no description of how the list was compiled, see below, and b) Fish doesn’t really need some dubious rankings to show their achievements: based on our rankings, the firm actually does quite well on several diversity indicators in the Boston region.

But this is the problem – law students don’t have easily-accessible, high-quality information to make employment decisions with. Our rankings help remedy that situation. Using our reports, law students can now identify firms taking the lead on important issues, and by doing so, can send a message to large firms to improve their own organizations.

One more thing: Fish & Richardson shouldn’t make such claims, but Multicultural Law magazine may be the real culprit. The purpose of the magazine is “to serve as a vehicle for law firms to promote their diversity message.” Um … does that mean firms pay for the opportunity to be on a “Top 100 Firms for Diversity” list? If Building a Better Legal Profession bought an ad, could we be ranked #4 on the rankings, since our name starts with the letter B?

Our repeated phone messages to the magazine seeking comment were not returned. But you can check out their rankings here. Ask yourself: What data are they based upon? How did firms get themselves on the list? How did they decide that the firms should be ranked in alphabetical order?

And for you enterprising readers, which other firms tout this ranking as an achievement? Drop us an email if you come across something.



Coverage in the American Bar Ass’n Journal by andrewbruck
October 14, 2007, 11:33 am
Filed under: Law reform, media

A supporter just forwarded us an article from the ABA Journal. It’s a great example of the press we’ve been getting. We particularly like the quote from our co-founder, Andrew Canter.

Coalition Seeks to Change Big Law Firms, by Martha Neill

Although they haven’t yet graduated from law school, some students are already disillusioned about practicing law at the nation’s major law firms. Worried about tales of long days, unrewarding work and a lack of diversity that prompts many to seek work elsewhere after a few years, they have formed a coalition to promote change.

“What we hear over and over again is that all the law firms are the same,” Andrew Canter, 24, a third-year student at Stanford Law School, tells Legal Times in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.). “They look the same, they make the same glossy brochures, they put on the same receptions and the same fly-back weekends and everything. So we’re trying to do whatever we can to distinguish between them and encourage improvement.”

Others who agree have formed a coalition called Law Students Building a Better Legal Profession, the article explains. Originally made up of Stanford students, it now includes a national membership of students from elite law schools. The group also has a blawg featuring an illustration of grass roots.

Read the full thing here. And congrats to Andrew for the great coverage. (He’s traveling the country giving presentations on our work to various legal academic conferences. We wish him the best of luck!)



building a better legal profession on facebook by andrewbruck
October 13, 2007, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Law reform

one of our supporters started a facebook group to promote our organization. looks like the group’s spreading quickly through cyberspace, picking up members at harvard, yale, stanford, nyu, georgetown, university of toronto, boalt, duke, and columbia law schools. fantastic! more proof that this is a nationwide effort to reform large private law firms.

join us on facebook here!

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25,000! by andrewbruck
October 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Law reform

we’re now at 25,000 views since our wednesday press conference. we’ve heard from partners & associates at big firms that our website has really been making the rounds since we went public four days ago. thanks to everyone for spreading the word!



law students: spread the word on your campus by andrewbruck
October 11, 2007, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Law reform

judging from the e-mails we’ve received, it looks like law students make up a large part of our readership. that’s great news. we hope you find this information helpful as you decide where to work after graduation. as you can see from our report, there’s a lot more to firms than their Vault prestige rankings and compensation packages.

we hope you’ll join our effort to educate other law students about the differences between major law firms. our goal is to visit every law school in the country to present our findings and distribute paper copies of our report to students. if you’re a law student and would like to help us arrange a visit, contact us at refirmation (at) gmail.com. thanks!