Until recently, media focus on sexual discrimination in the legal industry has been concentrated on the lawyer population, with much of it directed to compensation and promotion issues. A few big law firms made big news as they were accused of “short-changing women on pay and business opportunities.” Not to be left out, law school deans and a federal judge have stepped up to claim their 15 minutes as well. But lawyers’ interaction with law firm staff has been off the radar of the #MeToo movement.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and “non-lawyer” women might also make a federal case out of it. One big firm made news this month after a suit was filed by a staff member alleging treatment “like nothing more than a sexual object” from another staff member. Conduct within law firms will likely gain a greater share of the spotlight and scrutiny may come from clients, insurance companies and potential new hires. Mell Consulting recently completed a survey in partnership with the Association of Law Firm Administrators to evaluate whether sexual harassment is a widespread concern in our profession and, if so, how can all members of the legal ecosystem address problems and promote a safe work environment. What we found was that, while many law firm leaders might think it doesn’t happen within their walls, they may need to take a thorough look inward. ACCESS THE SURVEY RESULTS