2017 has been a year marked in the legal profession by what has been described as a “bleak picture” for women in private practice. Recently, Law 360’s Glass Ceiling Report found that although women make up over 50% of law school graduates, those numbers are not reflected in private practice. The Report found that for law firms of 20-149 attorneys, only 33.4% are women, and even less are women in leadership positions.
While the Report did not include results for smaller, boutique law firms, most agree that hiring, promoting, and retaining women lawyers is a challenge that is universal to all law firms. This is particularly true of a civil litigation practice, where it may be more difficult for a woman to break into a management position, or position themselves to become a top litigator.
At Brownson Norby, we take that challenge seriously, and are becoming a leader in the promotion of women in our practice in many ways. Brownson Norby is beating the national percentages in its representation of women lawyers. Women comprise 43% of Brownson Norby attorneys—well above the national average. Likewise, of the firm’s owners, 33% are women. Kristi Brownson, a shareholder, takes great pride in her role in management of the firm. In that regard, she was featured in the November 2016 Attorney at Law Magazine, Women in Law Special Addition, as a top woman attorney. She noted:
If women have an interest in litigation or law office management, I encourage them to do it. It has been a challenge at times to be the only woman in the room. . . . Yet sometimes women have a different way of doing things than men, and that can be good for everyone when it’s done with the best interests of the law firm and clients.
Kristi’s partners, Bob Brownson and Tom Norby agree. “We are proud that women have risen to leadership positions in the firm,” Bob commented, “and we hope that continues.” Tom agreed, noting that gender should not be a factor that limits a person’s success. “We want people to advance according to their ability—not dependent on their gender.”
The firm recently showcased two of its women attorneys, Lindsey Streicher and Olivia Cooper, in the May, 2017 Next Generation Attorneys, Special Issue of Minnesota Lawyer, as “Superstars Rising.” Lindsey is taking the lead in the firm’s tech-forward culture by establishing and managing the firm’s social media accounts. “Senior attorneys here value my ideas and input, which allows me to have a real impact for the firm.” Olivia is likewise an integral part of the firm’s team of attorneys and paralegals. “I am fortunate to work at a firm that values diversity and success, and is willing to mentor new lawyers.”
At a time when national statistics show a very slow gain in the role of women in private practice, Brownson Norby, PLLC, is pushing back against this trend. Kristi notes, “At Brownson Norby, we want our attorneys to be the best in the room—regardless of gender. That being said, I am very proud of the success and dedication of our women attorneys. We have a top-notch team in place.”
For the Attorney at Law, Women in Law article about Kristi Brownson, click here: Women in Law Article Featuring Kristi Brownson.
For the Attorney at Law, Rising Stars article about Lindsey Streicher and Olivia Cooper, click here: Rising Stars Article Featuring Lindsey Streicher and Olivia Cooper.