Professor Paula Monopoli, a nationally known expert in issues surrounding gender in the legal profession, shared the stage this month with American Bar Association (ABA) President Laurel Bellows in Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C.
In Austin, Professor Monopoli spoke at the Women’s Power Summit on Law & Leadership, hosted by the University of Texas. The annual, by-invitation-only conference draws equity partners from major law firms and general counsel from Fortune 500 firms to Austin to measure the progress women have made in private practice.
Following a keynote by President Bellows, Professor Monopoli discussed the role of law schools in better preparing students to navigate the power dynamics of law firms by grounding them in the theory of organizational behavior and dynamics. She noted that UM Carey Law has been one of the first law schools to expose students to the empirical research that documents the persistence of gender bias in the workplace as part of the regular curriculum.
Professor Monopoli also spoke to the District of Columbia Women’s Bar Association as part of the ABA’s launch of its new gender equity in compensation initiative. President Bellows, a business and employment lawyer, opened the panel by describing the emphasis that she has put on this issue during her term as ABA President. The importance of compensation to the retention of women lawyers has been a major focus of the Gender Equity Task Force she convened upon assuming office.
Professor Monopoli shared the work that she has done at UM Carey Law School as part of a broader discussion of the power of educating women about the structural barriers to advancement that they still face. Fewer than 20 percent of equity partners in law firms are women and they earn an average of $66,000 less than their male counterparts.
Professor Monopoli and President Bellows called for transparency as part of the solution as well as passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would prevent retaliation against employees who discuss their pay with other employees in the workplace.
Alexina Jackson ’07 also described her experience at a private law firm and how she has used the knowledge gained as a Rose Zetzer Fellow at UM Carey Law to better navigate the legal workplace.