\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0The Women's Section of the Alabama State Bar focuses on many projects; however, two of the sections primary goals are to recognize the value, legacy and work of female attorneys who paved the way for other female attorneys and to herald the accomplishments of young female law students establishing themselves as future leaders.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Honoring the Past
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0On July 19, 2013, at the Alabama State Bars Annual Meeting, the Women's Section held its Maud McLure Kelly luncheon. Ms. Kelly was the first woman to graduate from the University of Alabama School of Law and the first woman to practice law in Alabama. She was one of the first southern women to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court. Ms. Kelly was a true groundbreaker for female attorneys in Alabama.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0The 2013 honoree for the Maud McLure Kelly Award was Mary Lee Stapp. She embodies the spirit of Maud McLure Kelly. She graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1951 and is best known for her service as an assistant attorney general, Department of Human Resources, and chief legal counsel and director of legal services for the Department of Pensions and Security. She is widely known and respected as an advocate for children and the elderly, arguing cases at all court levels, including the United States Supreme Court.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Preparing for the Future
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Just as the Maud McLure Kelly Award honors female leaders of the past, the Women's Section also looks to the future of the women's bar in Alabama. The Justice Janie L. Shores Scholarship is awarded to a worthy female law student who is an Alabama resident and attends an Alabama law school. To fund this scholarship, the Women's Section sponsors a silent auction during the state bar's annual meeting.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0The 2013 recipient of the Justice Janie L. Shores Scholarship was Hannah Hooks. The Women's Section presented Hooks with a check for 34, 500. The section sincerely appreciates every donor, bidder and volunteer for participating in the auction and assisting future female attorneys in Alabama.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Concern for the Present
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0While Alabama's female attorneys have made great strides, national data suggests that retaining female attorneys in the practice of law is a challenge. If left unaddressed, this problem could be detrimental to young women seeking legal careers and to the legal community as a whole.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Statistics released this year by the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession show that only 19.9 percent of law firm partners are women and only 15 percent of equity partners are women.1 In addition, in the 200 largest law firms surveyed, only four percent of the managing partners are women.2 In contrast, 46.3 percent of summer associates and 45 percent of associates are women.3
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0These numbers reflect what has been called the "leaky pipeline;" female associates are leaving the profession in large numbers before they reach the level of partner or manager.4 One study found that a female attorney practices law for an average of nine and a half years, while a male attorney practices law an average of 19.5.5
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0This trend is cause for concern. First, it is disheartening to see so few women on the management or partnership track given the investments they have made in their legal careers. These women worked hard to earn their degrees, likely incurring a high debt-load to do so. They have likely logged many hours as an associate, making personal sacrifices for the sake of their careers.
\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Second, there is an economic impact on the firms that employ these women. Firms...