Jamie Bryant and Anne Bowling spent time with Buffalo Law Journal’s Patrick Connelly discussing some of our firm’s women’s initiatives.
With the #MeToo movement front and center and a recent report by the American Bar Association on bias, closing the gender gap in the legal profession has become a hot topic.
To help bridge the gap, many firms have adjusted long-standing hiring practices and how they acclimate new employees.
Among those who helped pave the way for change are Sharon Porcellio, a member at Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC, and Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC attorneys Jamie Batt and Anne Bowling.
“We just try to make everyone feel welcome in their own way,” said Bowling, an associate at the Buffalo firm.
She and Batt helped start an initiative in which women from various business sectors meet quarterly to connect and discuss issues.
“Some of the women in our firm – associates and partners – were talking and we just said, ‘You know, we’re starting to meet all these different women in different industries on a professional level and it would be nice to get together and help each other out,’ ” Batt said.
The goal is to build relationships, she said.
“Part of our initiative was getting these women in parts of different industries together (through something akin to a networking event) but more on an intimate level,” Batt said. “We don’t all get to talk to each other all the time so it was kind of just a closer way to (do that).”
Porcellio said that while Bond Schoeneck & King does plenty internally and externally to support women, she wanted to get a better handle on how many were getting the opportunities they deserved in the courtroom. She was particularly motivated, she said, after retired U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin noticed a disparity.
“I talked to one of the local judges here who collected statistics for me and he said that had I asked him before I collected them, he would have guessed the numbers were higher,” Porcellio said. “He was actually quite stunned by the numbers when he saw them.