Gender (in)Equality in the Law: A Frank Discussion with Monica Bay, Editor-In-Chief of Law Technology News
Monica Bay, the editor-in-chief of Law Technology News, discusses the technology changes within the publishing industry and gender equality within the legal profession in this GAL Radio interview. Highlights include....
- So, what we’ve seen is a transition, a very healthy transition in my mind, to the GC’s having a lot more control over the whole process where law firms are being forced to operate, instead of like private clubs, on a much more corporate, much more transparent approach.
- About a year and a half ago, the U.S. Census released a staggering, and very disappointing figures that showed tremendous gaps in the legal profession on how we pay our women and our men.
- even among the paralegals, ... it’s something like 97% women, and yet, with that small percentage of men who are paralegals, they’re still making more than the women.
- But, it’s unconscionable for our profession, who are leaders for justice in the rule of law, to have inequities in something as fundamental as equal pay for equal work. So, I challenge those leaders to walk into their HR departments and get the information and fix it.
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Damien Allen: Good afternoon, and welcome to GAL Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the phone is Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News. Good afternoon, Monica. Welcome to the program.
Damien Allen: And it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the program today. You’ve been an editor for 12 years. What are some of the changes you’ve seen? What’s going on at Law Technology News?
Monica Bay: Well, I’ve been here in New York for 12 years, and before that I was in California base in San Francisco for another 13. Believe it or not, I just celebrated my 25th anniversary with the company, which seems like it’s been five minutes. It’s been a very, very interesting couple of years. It’s no secret that both the legal industry and the publishing industry have been ravaged by the economy collapses, and at the risk of people being aghast and accusing me of Schadenfreude, if I’m pronouncing this right, I think in the long run, it’s an extremely healthy trend. I’ve been arguing for a long time that the legal profession was molting from when I was first was admitted to the California Bar in 1983, when it was dominated by men, and in my early days, one of my San Francisco colleagues, Joanne Garvey, who at the time was with Heller, could not even go in the main entrance of the Pacific-Union Club because it was a men’s club. She had to go in with the servant's entrance and she was a member of the state bar board of governors, I believe, at the time. In those days, everything was run like a private club. I put myself through law school as a legal secretary and law clerk and I used to type the bills that would be on this heavy Crane stationery with all the white men on the top embossed in black, and the bill would consist of three words “for services rendered” and then a number that had quite a few zeros. And in the beginning, clients would marry law firms, so, Pillsbury Madison & Sutro in San Francisco was the grand dame law firm, and Chevron was one of the major employers in the area. And there was just no question, Chevron was represented by PM&S. So, what we’ve seen is a transition, a very healthy transition in my mind, to the GC’s having a lot more control over the whole process where law firms are being forced to operate, instead of like private clubs, on a much more corporate, much more transparent approach. And I think the positive in this is that they are starting to realize what those of us who are baseball fans have known for a long time, which is, the key to success is diversity, and the key to success is recognizing everybody on your team, and that it is not always ARod who gets to walk up a pie-crusted, game winning home run, sometimes, to follow my Yankees’ example, it’s Francis Cervelli. And so, recognizing everybody on the team, recognizing everybody who contributes, makes it healthier and better, and Damien, I think that’s just a huge important valuable trend that is going to make the profession so much better in how we provide faster, better, cheaper legal services. I apologize for the long set up but I think that’s been a huge change.
Damien Allen: One of your pet passions is gender equality in this field, and we’re looking at a field where now 50% of graduates of law school are females. Are we seeing a change in what’s going on within the system and what’s going on within firms? Is it becoming more equal?
Monica Bay: Well, that figure is one of the few positives, unfortunately, when it comes to gender. About a year and a half ago, the U.S. Census released a staggering, and very disappointing figures that showed tremendous gaps in the legal profession on how we pay our women and our men. I don’t recall the exact figure but I believe it was 57%. If you visit The Common Scold or email me, I could give you the exact figure and in the February issue we did an article…Craig Ball, who is our EDD columnist, and I spoke at women in e-discovery, and he had many of the actual stats. What is really frustrating is that this includes everybody. It includes lawyers. We’ve all known, and a lot of the reasons are nuanced. I never wanted to practice in a big firm environment, so a lot of people self-select out. However, it’s still very discouraging that women have such a small percentage of being partners in large firm environments. Part of that is because many, many women elect to have families or pursue other interests and don’t want the traditional track, but a lot of women do, and it’s very challenging. I was particularly disheartened because, even among the paralegals, which are about as pink collar as you can get, it is an aspect of our profession that is dominated by women, and that’s what I mean by pink collar, I’m not implying the nature of the work, but that they’re pinked collared because it’s something like 97% women, and yet, with that small percentage of men who are paralegals, they’re still making more than the women. And I, in that same February article, I have put forth a gauntlet and set forth a challenge to every law firm managing partner, every GC and every CEO of a vendor shop, to fix this. Just like Nike says, “Just do it”. I walked into Bill Pollak’s office, and he’s our CEO, (and I knew the answer to the question but I wanted to do it anyway) and asked him, our CEO, if our figures here at ALM were gender neutral, and I knew they were, and he assured me that was the case. But, it’s unconscionable for our profession, who are leaders for justice in the rule of law, to have inequities in something as fundamental as equal pay for equal work. So, I challenge those leaders to walk into their HR departments and get the information and fix it. It’s very easy. You can probably do it in a matter of days. Identify the people who are doing equal work, and get them paid comparably. So, that’s one of my many uses of the bully pulpit that I am so lucky to have.
Damien Allen: In one of your articles and in one of the podcasts or video podcasts, you recently did a piece on e-discovery and gender equality. What are some of the key trends in e-discovery, and how will this help get the glass ceiling shattered and get the equality?
Monica Bay: Well, I have to give credit to Craig Ball because this was his idea, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. I think I’m going to badly paraphrase his great line, but he said basically, only fools and firemen crash through glass ceilings. A much better strategy is to end run them. And he suggested that just about, I’ll use another analogy, the HOV lane to the top is by learning e-discovery, and right now the baby boomers are still pretty much in charge of most law firms and legal organizations. We baby boomers were taught that only the “girls” did anything that involved a keyboard. We were, you know, in California it was a big fight to even get CLE credits for courses dealing with law firm management, which they now do, or technology training. And, as a group, Mike Arkfeld, the Phoenix based consultant, says 97% - if I’m quoting him accurately, it might even be higher - of lawyers simply aren’t competent to do e-discovery. So, this, says Craig Ball, presents a tremendous opportunity, because whether you are an IT person, a lip support person, an attorney, if you learn a discovery, and the dirty secret is, is that it isn’t that hard, if you become expert on it, you can put yourself in the position of being the go-to gal, because if you are able to handle a rule 26 conference, if you are able to go in and be able to clearly explain to the boomers, here are the differences between these three vendors and this is why we should pick vendor A over vendor B, if you can understand and translate the jargon, I mean, I’m constantly screaming at the vendors to stop using the same twelve words to describe their products, which are all loudly different, and to stop calling everything revolutionary because the only thing revolutionary was the iPod in the last 20 years. If you can learn those skills, you’ve really positioned yourself to excel and to establish the credibility and to get the proverbial seat at the table. So, I thought that was great advice, and I just strongly encourage women, and men, the good men in our profession are as equally angered about this as the good women. So, go to your leaders and tell them you want it fixed and fix it! It isn’t hard! It isn’t hard! Fix it! It’s very easy. It’s black and white. Look at your staff, figure out who’s making what, figure out who’s working comparably, and fix it, because it’s inexcusable that the legal profession, it’s unconscionable, that the legal profession is blatantly treating its women unfairly. Simply fix it. It’s that easy.
Damien Allen: What changes are being driven by tech in this digital age?
Monica Bay: I think we started talking about changes, and we alluded to some of the changes the profession is changing. I think the most fun and interesting and exasperating and exciting challenge that I faced in my 25 years here at ALM has been the last two years because of the shift to digital. When I first moved to New York and took over LTN, it was 1998, so, it was right at the dot com frenzy, followed immediately by the crash. So, we’re now, kind of, in our second big pendulum swing. And I remember writing an article right after the crash, remember the puppet sock guy with the pet.com or something, and it talked about, I wrote a article that as I look back on it was prescient saying, you know boys and girls, let me tell you something, dot com ain’t dead and looked at how my banking had changed alone, but even in 2000, I was banking almost exclusively online and talked about some other trends. What’s been really interesting for us now is that, like all publishers, we are really challenged into figuring out how do we reach our disparate audiences, whether they be brand new lawyers and legal professionals who are coming in and have grown up with iPods and text messaging or these resistant boomers who are still struggling and trying. How do we get the information they need to them in the formats that they want. And just as pragmatic example, I would say, when I first came here in 1998, - to New York - I had one job, I was the editor of Print Magazine. Now, that Print Magazine is offered in three different vehicles. You can get it in print. You can get it in an online version that you can print on demand from Texterity. We put the entire magazine on the newly merged LTN website, we merged the law.com site with the LTN site, brought the LTN site in-house and have an exciting one. I now do, twice a month, I now do a video that I never did before. I now do two blogs. I have my own blogs, the first person at ALM to do a blog, The Common Scold, and then we’ve launched…I work very closely with Sean Doherty who is the technology editor for law.com, and we jointly manage a lot of projects one of which is the EDD update blog, which is a multi-author blog that deals with all things e-discovery. We’ve just posted a wonderful dialog between Craig Ball and Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck that is just absolutely delightful that they’re discussing some of the nuances of Craig’s most recent column. I do a monthly podcast with the Legal Talk Network. I do a daily alert with Sean. And I’ve probably forgotten half of the other things that we’ve been doing that are new and exciting. So, we’re looking at how do we get LTN content on your mobile device. You know, how do we give the content we are producing to you in the vehicle you want and just like you and are talking now on radio. That is really, really exciting. It can be very exhausting, but it’s really exciting. I really would invite your listeners to please give us feedback, and you can always email us at email@example.com. We welcome your ideas. We just caved and changed our policy on photos so we’re no longer requiring ties, and that was a result of a very robust discussion on the Common Scold where people took all sorts of positions on it. It was great fun and resulted in change. It’s all about, ultimately, if I had to sum up what Law Technology News is, it’s about change management. I live and breathe change management.
Damien Allen: Thank you very much for joining us today, Monica.
Monica Bay: It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
Damien Allen: We’ve been discussing technology changes, the Law Technology News and gender equality with e-discovery with Monica Bay, the editor-in-chief of Law Technology News at ALM. You’ve been listening to GAL Radio. My name is Damien Allen. Everyone have a great afternoon.
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