Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The "gender bias" Utah legal profession survey

We read yesterday's article in the Tribune titled Gender bias taints Utah legal profession, which gave us a chance to raise a few questions. Months ago, while the blog was on hiatus, one of us received an e-mail that included the questions from this survey, which seem a bit . . . problematic.

We know someone who started to fill out the survey, but discovered to her dismay that the "anonymous" survey requested enough information that it would not have been difficult to identify her. Years out, position in firm, number of attorneys in firm -- when you're talking female attorneys in a state with relatively few firms, that pretty much narrows it down.

The survey also asked questions that were literally impossible for her to answer. Are you satisifed with the nature of your "assignments," it asked. Assignments? At her firm at least, partners' work is self-generated and/or voluntarily accepted; the question could only be appropriate for a junior attorney.

The survey was further weighted because -- for reasons not identified in the article -- it was limited to attorneys who have been out 25 years or less. Often, with seniority comes power and autonomy, and we suspect that answers would have reflected that. How recent were the anecdotes about discrimination? This particular attorney has some lulus from early in her career, but nothing recent. Times (may) have changed.

We'll reserve judgment until we see the final report, if it ends upposted somewhere. To be continued...

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