Sep 6, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

A recent study of New York courtrooms reveals that female attorneys hold only 25 percent of counsel roles.

The report, by the commercial and federal litigation section of the New York State Bar Association, showed similar results in commercial and criminal cases in the private sector.

The report also said that women fare better in the public sector.  According to the report, “The low percentage of women attorneys appearing in a speaking role in courts was found at every level and in every type of court: upstate and downstate, federal and state, trial and appellate, criminal and civil, ex parte applications and multiparty matters.” 

Other results from the study conducted from September through December 2016, show that female attorneys represented 25.2 percent of all attorneys in commercial and criminal cases in New York, 24.9 percent of lead counsel roles, and 27.6 percent of additional counsel roles.

The question remains—what should the state do to change these numbers? 

The report offered several solutions.  One includes law firm leaders assigning female attorneys to work with a partner who will ensure that they go to court and participate in courtroom proceedings.

Former U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Southern District of New York helped initiate the project, which was compiled by a task force of the state bar section.  She said, “We hope the report is widely disseminated and studied by lawyers in the public and private sectors, in-house counsel, and members of the judiciary,” Scheindlin said in a statement. “The time has come to turn things around. We look forward to seeing a real improvement when we repeat the study in two years.”

Learn more about studying law in New York.



Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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