Meet some of the Shaker women who have broken through to the top of their law firms.
Law360, a subscription-based on-line legal news service, begins its annual Glass Ceiling Report for 2017 soberly. “U.S. law firms have long been overwhelmingly dominated by men, particularly at the partnership level, and Law360’s latest Glass Ceiling Report shows that recent progress has been – at best – only incremental.”
“I think if you’re a woman in our world, you just have to do it better, smarter, and faster,” Patricia Shlonsky, partner-in-charge at Ulmer & Berne’s Cleveland office, told Shaker Life. If Law360 is to be taken seriously, Shlonsky’s observation has the ring of truth. But for the five Shaker Heights women profiled here, including Shlonsky, the glass ceiling has yielded to their talents as attorneys and administrators. The exception, immigration lawyer Margaret Wong, who got her law degree in the mid-1970s when the profession was still strictly a Y chromosome, simply started her own firm rather than shrink away after routinely being turned down at the club door.
Shaker Life writer Sharon Holbrook – herself a nonpracticing lawyer – points out in her profile of Squire Patton Boggs’ Michele Connell, “Law may have a reputation as a stodgy, clubby occupation, but that’s changing. Women are advancing more than ever – 10 of the 12 partners just announced by [Squire Patton Boggs] are women, and the firm is also focused on advancing diversity more generally.” In other words, despite Law360’s gloomy outlook, the glass ceiling just might be a pile of shards for the next generation of women lawyers, at least in Cleveland. In the meantime, meet some of those who broke through.