In May 2019, the International Bar Association released a report on its survey of nearly 7,000 legal professionals worldwide on their experience with bullying and harassment at the workplace. The statistics were alarming. Over one-half of female respondents, one-third of male respondents, and over two-thirds of non-binary respondents reported being subjected to harassment or bullying at work. Additionally, 40% of women and 32% of men reported witnessing bullying at work. Not surprisingly, of those who report misconduct, the vast majority state that the workplace response was negligible or insufficient.
The American Bar Association, many state and local bar associations, as well as various professional groups report that our profession has difficulty retaining women and diverse lawyers. The legal profession loses so much talent, at least in part, due to feelings of exclusion, inequity, harassment, and bullying. As decision-makers and controllers of the purse strings, in-house counsel are in a unique position to influence the attraction and retention of women and diverse lawyers in their organizations and in the law firms with which they do business. Professional associations that focus on eliminating the revolving door for lawyers in historically marginalized groups, such as Minority Corporate Counsel Association, National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms and Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, provide resources to support in-house counsel to move the needle considerably. We can only make and sustain real change and genuine belongingness if in-house counsel wield their power and lead the profession in combating discrimination and bias that pushes many capable lawyers to leave before reaching their full potential.
In this program, Fran Griesing, Founder and Managing Member of women-owned and operated law firm Griesing Law, LLC, will discuss issues of bullying, harassment, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and how in-house counsel may leverage their role to combat harassment and invest in inclusion in the legal profession.
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