March 2014 Bar Bulletin
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March 2014 Bar Bulletin

Women in the Practice of Law

By Kris Henderson
Reference Librarian


If you are a woman with a law degree, regardless of whether you currently practice, you might find one or more of the titles below to be of interest. If you are anybody else who reads this column, you might also find something of interest - parts of several of these books will resonate across the board. Many of them are just plain interesting. And they are all available at the Public Law Library of King County.

All of the titles below are published by the ABA. I have divided them into two somewhat arbitrary categories: "Making Your Legal Career Work for You" and "Career and Practice Management." Caution: You may find that parts of some of the books written just a few short years ago seem dated simply because the legal landscape has changed so much in those few years.

Making Your Legal Career Work for You

This group of books is aimed at helping women lawyers find a life in the law that works for them. Most of them focus on the challenges of having children as well as a career in the law; however, most of them also can be of use to anyone who wants to balance the demands of the law with a competing imperative.

Staying at Home Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams, Julie Tower-Pierce (ABA 2008). The author describes this book as a "desk companion" for lawyers wanting to pursue dreams or interests apart from the law, but without giving up the law.

Women lawyers wanting to spend more time with their children are her main audience, but the book's lessons are applicable to anyone who wants to step out of the practice and do something else, at least for a while. The book addresses both the practicalities and the emotional terrain of the process. One theme of the book is that the decision is not irrevocable and that re-entry is possible, albeit sometimes difficult.

Legally Mom: Real Women's Stories of Balancing Motherhood & Law Practice, Anne Murphy Brown (ABA 2012). This book has profiles of more than 20 women lawyers who are also mothers.

The author sought to find how motherhood affects a woman's career as a lawyer; what part motherhood plays in the attrition of women lawyers; and how women can succeed in the law while also having children. There is no analysis to answer these questions, but you can draw your own conclusions from these snapshots of "legal moms" (her term) working in firms, corporations, the government, academia and other settings.

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