Is the Scarcity of Female Personal Injury Lawyers Harming Women's Legal Interests?
There are many personal injury cases unique to women. They include sexual assault and rape, head injuries, botched breast surgery, and other gynecological medical injuries. In many of these cases, women may prefer to work with female lawyers. Unfortunately, female attorneys may be difficult to find.
The Picture at the Law Firm
A study by the American Bar Association came up with these numbers:
- Just 32% of lawyers on civil cases were women while approximately 68% were men
- 27 % of female attorneys go to trial compared with 73% of men
- 24 % of cases have women as lead counsel. Men lead approximately 76%
The study reveals that finding a female personal injury attorney as lead counsel is even harder. Whereas 71% of tort law cases have men as lead counsel, only 21% are women-led.
Why the Gap?
According to the ABA, fewer women lawyers get a seat at the table. The disparity is bigger where personal injury cases are concerned. But does that mean that fewer women are choosing the legal career path?
Another 2018 survey report by ABA revealed that:
- Female students (52.39%) outnumbered male students (47.51% ) in ABA-approved law schools
- The enrollment rate for women in 2018 had climbed 1.09% from 2017 and 1.21% from 2016
- 9 of the top 20 law schools in the nation have more women attendees
These statistics make a statement. Gender inequalities exist somewhere along the legal career path with regards to hiring, remuneration, and promotion, among other professional opportunities in law.
In their report titled First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table, ABA notes the following concerning career progression for female lawyers:
- Getting to the position of lead counsel is much harder for women than it is for men
- Many women enter the legal profession, but very few advance at the same rate as men
- Women trial attorneys of color are at an even greater disadvantage
- Family responsibilities and children, gender bias in the profession, and male-centered law firm cultures and attitudes are some of the causes of the disparity
But Women Lawyers Are "Significantly Better," Notes a Women in Law Report
Insight from a 2018 Women In Law Report shows that women lawyers perform significantly better than men. The research identifies that:
- Female partners outdo male partners in court by 70.19% to 57.47 %
- Female lawyers are less likely to be sued for malpractice
- A strategy that includes female lawyers has a competitive advantage
Cases Where Women Lawyers Are Critically Needed
In many cases, female attorneys may be better placed to improve access to justice for women and girls.
Botched Gynecological Procedures
For example, transvaginal mesh used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence can lead to Fistula, nerve damage, and painful intercourse. This is a valid personal injury case, and a woman may be more comfortable discussing the issue with a female attorney than a male lawyer.
After a car accident or a slip and fall accident, women may suffer traumatic brain injuries. These injuries affect women differently compared to men. The severity of injuries and the risk of fatality from these injuries is higher in females than men. A woman attorney may be more understanding of what the female client is going through.
Rape and Assault Cases
Rape and assault cases can be emotionally extolling. After going through the traumatic incident, a female client may feel more comfortable with a female attorney.
Whether it's medical malpractice, car accident, or a slip and fall accident, working with female lawyers can be beneficial in diverse ways. ABA states that women lawyers connect better to jurors and that they are over-prepared in most cases.