The following is an excerpt from Gene Commander’s Part 1 article in the May issue of Law Week Colorado exploring the disconnect between the rapidly growing percentage of licensed women attorneys and the law firms that struggle to retain female talent. The article can be read in full here.

Law firms nationwide are battling to attract and retain productive talent in the face of growing labor market challenges, particularly dwindling law school enrollment, retiring baby boomers and high attrition rates. A commonsense yet often overlooked strategy to address the rapidly shrinking talent pool is to embrace a greater role in firms for female lawyers. The number of female lawyers has been ticking steadily upward, and women under the age of 40 now outnumber their male counterparts among actively licensed attorneys in Colorado.

Unfortunately, the data show that law firms have substantially failed to support and retain female lawyers. For example, in a survey by Above the Law, half of female associates said they planned to leave their job within one to two years, compared to just one-third of male associates. Further, law firms have not succeeded at recognizing and elevating women. Nationwide, women account for roughly a quarter of law firm partners and a scant 12% of managing partners. And men predominate among lawyers earning over $150,000 yearly, with disparities growing even larger at higher income levels.