Tell us what you think via @statebaroftexas, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 12487, Austin, TX 78711-2487. Letters addressed to the Texas Bar Journal may be edited for clarity and length and become the property of the magazine, which owns all rights to their use.
RE: “THE POWER OF WORDS,” JULY 2019, P.
Thanks for writing this excellent piece. The courtrooms of Texas will be more literate if your bar association members all read it! LEE POLLOCK, Trustee and Advisor to the Board, The International Churchill Society, Washington, D.C.
RE: “DEVELOPING TALENT,” JULY 2019, P. 510
I feel that the article “Developing Talent: Why are women attorneys leaving the practice of law at a point when they should be advancing in their careers?” by Belinda May Arambula misses a vital and important view on this question.
Many of us are not leaving law—we are leaving the traditional practice of law. There is a fundamental difference. I practiced in the firm setting for 14 years before calling it quits. My leaving had nothing to do with the reasons Ms. Arambula set forth in her article for why women leave. I left because I finally accepted that I did not enjoy private practice at all.
I ended up transitioning—as many women do—to working for the government. I even took a pay cut and lost some benefits. Yet, I’m still practicing. I am employed as an attorney and am required to maintain my bar membership for my job. So, when I read in the article that I am considered part of “[t]he remainder [who] obtain employment in government, nonprofit, or other professions” and am therefore no longer considered to be practicing, I was more than a little disappointed.
Some of this falls squarely on the American Bar Association that apparently considers women in the courts (i.e., judges), corporations, or private firms— the traditional practice areas—to be the only ones “practicing” law. Yet, some also falls on anyone else who defines practicing law so narrowly.
There are numerous reasons why women leave private practice and work for the government or a nonprofit. Most oftentimes, it is directly related to the lighter work load, the freedom to enjoy the intellectual practice of the law without the drudgery of billing and client relations, and the job security. I also think the failure of law schools to teach actual legal skills and business management means that many women who want to hang out their own shingle feel compelled to start off with a firm to get grounded and ultimately get so jaded by the practice and the politics that they throw up their hands and leave.
The ultimate problem is that the traditional practice model requires those who participate to give almost more of themselves than possible and for many women, that price is simply too steep! ELISE M. STUBBE, Mandeville, Louisiana
Your response and decision to leave a private practice and transition to government work is consistent with what the statistics show: There is a grand exodus from where women start their legal practice to where they later transition to. If the choice is as you say for “lighter workloads and the freedom to enjoy the intellectual practice of law without the drudgery of billing and client relations” I am not sure that private firms can address those concerns as they do seem inherent in the modern practice. However, if women are leaving for other reasons that I articulated such as lack of mentorship or the absence of alternative schedules, perhaps there is room for upper management to make accommodations in an effort to keep those who desire to remain in private practice regardless of, or in some instances because of, the workload and client relations. BELINDA MAY ARAMBULA, Austin