Attracting and retaining women in private practice.
Heidi Bayer, Principal of HGB Professional Recruiting Solutions, was asked to contribute her thoughts regarding attracting and retaining female attorneys in private practice. Her answers are below, some of which were featured in the July/August 2023 edition of the AzBusiness magazine.
What is the biggest mistake law firms make when trying to attract or retain women attorneys?
Not taking action. The legal industry is still ridden with systemic inequalities, so the firms that are not evolving and taking the necessary steps to commit to change are not attracting and retaining female attorneys like they did historically. However, it goes beyond creating policies and using buzz words – women want and deserve more than lip service and will, increasingly, walk away from firms who are not genuinely dedicated to empowering them.
What is the most important thing for a law firm leader to remember when trying to attract women attorneys to their firm?
Be authentic. Whether the firm’s managing partner or another representative of the firm, talk openly and honestly about the firm’s failures and successes. Rather than speak in general terms, give specific examples demonstrating the firm’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, how it has evolved, and how it is empowering women to succeed.
What are the most important traits women attorneys look for when seeking a law firm for which to work?
Respect and representation. The presence of female attorneys, especially in leadership positions, is always desirable, and above all, female lawyers are seeking respect. For many, this means having a seat at the table, but this is often stifled by inequities stemming from childbearing and raising children. Due to these innate differences, during lucrative years of practice, it is more difficult for women to gain experience, build business, and get exposure to firm partners, leaders, and clients. Women are seeking firms that understand this and create paths for female attorneys’ growth, access to partnership, equity partnership, and leadership positions within the firm.