Atlanta Law

Female Lawyers Are Leaving Law Firms Often Due to Unfair Compensation

A recent American Bar Foundation report based on interviews and focus groups with female lawyers revealed that the most cited reasons for female lawyers leaving law firms was unfair or biased compensation systems. The report was based on 12 focus groups located in six cities as well as 12 individual interviews.

 

The Issues

 

According to the study, female lawyers reported that they originated more work than some of their male counterparts and still received lower pay. The study and report was done in collaboration with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Women in the Legal Profession as part of the ABA’s initiative on long-term careers for female attorneys.

 

According to the ABA’s May 3, 2021 press release, among the combination of factors that affected women’s decisions on whether to remain at their law firms, leave the profession, or move to a different legal job after being in the legal profession for more than 15 years was unfair compensation. A large number of the women in the study were their family’s breadwinners with spouses who were either low-paid or unpaid. The women reported that the pay disparities affected their ability to support their families as well as engage in leadership opportunities at their firms.

 

Multiple female lawyers reported that their firms told them they were making less than their male counterparts because the men had to support a wife and children. Many respondents also noted an inequitable distribution of origination credit for cases.

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 

In addition to inequitable compensation, additional factors that influenced the women’s decisions to leave the profession included:

 

  • Poor collegiality due to a bullying atmosphere and a hyper-competitive culture;
  • Driven isolation from colleagues due, in part, by ever-increasing demands for billable hours and lack of women in leadership;
  • Behavior that was sexist and racist;
  • The want for more fulfilling, interesting, or challenging work that would remain with senior partners;
  • Being looked over for promotions, particularly to equity partner, especially for women who worked fewer hours; and
  • Unpredictable schedules and long hours, making it difficult to manage personal and professional schedules.

 

There were, however, positive aspects of the profession that respondents identified even if the final decision was to leave the law. This included:

 

  • Intellectual stimulation in the law;
  • Relationships with colleagues at the firm;
  • The ability to help clients solve legal issues;
  • Autonomy in their work;
  • The social impact of the work;
  • Monetary compensation compared to other professions.

 

More information on this topic can be found here.

Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting is proud to be a woman-owned company.

Medical Debt Collection Lawsuits Continue Amid COVID-19

It was a Sunday night and 39-year-old breast-cancer survivor Blanche Jordan was just sitting down to do a puzzle in her living room when she heard a knock on her door. Following social distancing guidelines because she is high-risk, she put a mask on before opening the door and was greeted by a process server who handed her papers and said “You’ve been served.” To Jordan’s dismay, the hospital that she had just recently paid off a debt weeks prior for a surgery not covered by her health insurance was suing her for $7,150 for unrelated medical services.

A lawsuit was the last thing she expected during the Coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, Jordan is not the only one facing a lawsuit during a global pandemic.

A Rising Trend

Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation and most of the world, has been significantly changed over the past few weeks due to the Coronavirus outbreak. On March 12, Wisconsin declared a public health emergency. Nonetheless, law firms representing health systems in Wisconsin continue to sue patients over past-due medical debt. According to a report published by Wisconsin Watch, of The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, hospitals in the state have filed at least 104 lawsuits in small claims courts since March 12th against patients who have medical debt. At least six other health systems have sued patients in the midst of COVID-19.

Jordan’s lawsuit is just one of at least 46 lawsuits filed by Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital. While the hospital’s spokesman advised that it has suspended filing small claims lawsuits as of March 18 in response to the pandemic, court records showed at least 18 new lawsuits filed between then and March 31. All 18 of those lawsuits were subsequently dismissed.

Suspension of Suits, Maybe

While many of the health systems responded to news reports by stating legal actions on debt collections have been suspended, in rare cases the lawsuit will be pursued. The reason is to preserve the health system’s rights to pursue the debt, particularly if the debt is old and the statute of limitations on filing suit is about to expire. While this time is difficult, legal actions need to move forward — at least in order to preserve a party’s right under the law so that the action is not barred as a result of the expiration of a contractual or statute of limitations.

 

With Rent Payment Suspended, Landlords and Tenants Facing New Reality

Businesses have been shut down across the nation, many American workers are facing furloughs and layoffs due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The result is that a significant portion of the working population has lost part or all of its income. Many Americans have had to have the difficult conversation with their landlords because they are unable to pay next month’s rent.

Eviction Moratorium

As of the first week of April, as many as 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Additionally, nearly one third of American renters had not paid April rent as of the 5th of the month according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.

Across the nation counties, cities, and states have enacted eviction moratoriums. These laws essentially protect renters from evictions due to non-payment of rent resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.That being said, in many situations landlords are not being punished for serving evictions; instead, the law serve as a defense for tenants in the event they end up in an eviction action in the court system.

Nationwide, landlords are responding differently to the Coronavirus pandemic according to a report published by USA Today. While some landlords have lowered rent across the board, others are working out payment plans or other flexible terms, and still others are issuing three-day notices anyway in spite of the moratorium. For a good amount of these scenarios, however, communication between renter and landlord is key to keeping the relationships.

Keeping Tenants Safe

It is true that landlords need to properly deal with the difficulties many tenants may be having in making rent due to furloughs, unemployment or underemployment as a result of the pandemic. They also, however, need to ensure their properties are safe and try as best they can to prevent an outbreak.

Some tips for landlords to keep their buildings and tenants safe include:

  • Use education as a defense: let tenants know to wash their hands frequently, ask them to wear a mask if not feeling well, and seek medical attention right away if they think they may contracted the virus;
  • Keep your tenants informed: letting tenants know that management is aware of the virus and is taking the necessary and reasonable steps — and let them know what these steps are in writing; and
  • Provide reliable resources: information on how tenants can protect themselves and their families from the virus from credible sources — like the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Center for Disease Control (CDC) should be made available.

The above steps will not only help protect landlords and tenants from the virus, but can also shield landlords from lawsuits that may arise due to Coronavirus.

For more information, please contact us.

What Litigators Must Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic that has hit the globe is causing all of us to adjust how we live, work, and play. Lawyers are no exception to this. In order to continue to live up to the calling that requires attorneys — particularly litigators — to be custodians of our society’s ideals, there are a few things that should be done during this world-wide pandemic.

You Must Resolve Your Cases

Attorneys are called on to resolve disputes, which can be difficult during normal times. The best thing for a litigator to do is to put on his or her “closer” hat. More than ever, clients are losing income. It does not matter if you represent a plaintiff or a defendant — the downturn in the
economy affects everyone, and it is not known when the economy will bounce back from this pandemic. Clients are also in shock and disoriented. Defendants may be wanting to solely focus on business operations and not deal with lawsuits. Plaintiffs may want their lawsuit resolved sooner rather than later because of their current circumstances. Attorneys must be aware of these issues, while still balancing zealous advocacy and not selling the client short. Getting opposing counsel to come to the table is critical during this difficult time. Likewise, court dockets — which are backed up and trials delayed — will appreciate the civility employed by litigators to resolve cases.

You Must be Efficient

While the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us all to be more aware of personal hygiene, it has also forced businesses to become more efficient. The legal field, in many ways, is also a business. Law firms across the nation have transitioned to remote work for attorneys and staff alike. Attorneys — just like remote workers across the nation — are having to juggle work, family time, and schooling children. Legal work requires writing, editing, re-writing, analyzing, and researching, among other skills. While silence is key to these tasks, it is likely not available in prolonged periods right now. Using your time effectively is more critical than ever. Whether this means early mornings while the house is quiet or late evenings when everyone is in bed, squeezing in work and keeping clients up-to-date needs to happen.

Keep Using Discovery

The courts need not be involved in the discovery phase of a lawsuit — unless there is a need for motion practice or hearings due to disputes that cannot be resolved without court intervention.   Use of requests for admissions (RFAs), requests for production (RFPs), interrogatories (Rogs), and depositions are ideal ways to move your case forward during this time. While depositions may be difficult due to social distancing requirements, these can be done via video conference — although, admittedly, they are not the same as in-person depositions. That being said, litigators must be patient with opposing counsel because this time requires this type of civility.

The Case Must Go On

While it is true that the global pandemic has placed us all in an unprecedented position, attorneys must continue to practice zealously for their clients while employing additional patience for those on the other side of the case. In doing so, we can maintain our obligation to our industry while still properly representing our clients.