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For over twenty years, issues surrounding women and their status in the legal profession have been documented, analyzed, and reported. The American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Women in its 1988 study concluded that a thorough reexamination of attitudes and structures within the legal profession was needed to remedy the underrepresentation of women in the positions of power within the profession-law firm partnerships and judicial appointments. Nearly a decade later, the ABA Commission on Women found that little progress had been made in female representation and concluded the mere passage of time alone would not render sufficient corrections. Although the ABA did note that some advancement was made and some progress had occurred, the traditional attitude of those in the legal profession had not changed, and numerous barriers to progress still existed. The report identified concerns regarding the need to promote a balance between professional and personal life priorities for women in the legal profession. This concern about achieving balance in order to enrich the lives of women attorneys has grown today to become a problem of such proportions that many women now leave the practice of law because they find they cannot achieve a satisfactory quality of life within its strictures. This exodus not only affects the women who abandon a professional position in which they invested hard work, financial resources, and emotional wherewithal to achieve, but also our society in general. The underrepresentation of women practicing law impacts the culture of the legal profession and the quality of legal services offered to clients. Just as gender bias projects a negative message to clients, underrepresentation of women in the legal profession sends a message to clients that there is no room for diversity in a historically male-dominated legal profession and serves to negatively impact all women desiring to obtain the assistance of an attorney.


This article was originally published in the San Diego Law Review of the University of San Diego School of Law.

An electronic copy of the article has been made available in this electronic Repository with permission from the author(s) under the doctrine of fair use for nonprofit educational purposes.