DEBORAH L. RHODE
Director of the Center on the Legal Profession and E.W. McFarland Professor of Law, Stanford Law School (August 6)
Finally, the dust has settled over Anne-Marie Slaughter's controversial article in The Atlantic on why women can't have it all. So the moment has come to stand back, get a grip and ask why such a firestorm occurred, and what it implies for the struggle for gender equity.
The situation begs for explanation, because neither the problems Slaughter described nor the solutions she proposed are in any way new. The facts are, in fact, frustratingly familiar. Her personal difficulties in reconciling a high-pressure position in the State Department with a family life in Princeton, N.J., are one more variation on a well-worn theme. An accomplished lawyer who recognizes that she can't do everything well gives up the job. So, too, the correctives for work-family conflicts that Slaughter advocates have been on the feminist agenda for decades: quality day care, flexible schedules, less insistence on face time, more coordination between school and workplace schedules and more accommodation of interrupted career trajectories.
So why did the article set off such a feeding frenzy?…For some women, it resonated with their experience and validated their choices. For others, it set their teeth on edge, and reaffirmed traditional gender stereotypes. And for a third group, myself included, it evoked mainly frustration. Once again, so many women seemed willing to substitute venting about the problem for organizing to address it.
President and chief executive officer, the Pro Bono Institute in Washington (February 6)
At the Pro Bono Institute, we are committed to a data- and evidence-based approach to expanding and improving pro bono service, and so…the following are the most common myths we've heard recently about law firm and corporate pro bono.
Myth No. 1: Law firms only want "sexy" pro bono matters. This is perhaps the most frequently repeated piece of misinformation about the pro bono services undertaken by large law firms.…
There are two problems with this myth. First, the data indicate that just the opposite is true. Annual statistical reports from the many large law firms that are signatories to the Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge indicate that at most large firms a substantial percentage of the pro bono work undertaken by the firm's lawyers is, in fact, composed of individual legal aid-type matters in the areas of landlord/tenant, consumer, family law, public benefits, wills and the like.…The second problem with the myth…is the idea that complex, time-consuming and often controversial pro bono matters and only those types of matters are inherently sexy.…What makes pro bono matters attractive to firms or individual lawyers is education and passion. Making the case for the need for representation, and finding, for every lawyer, the type of matters that capture the imagination and address the passion for justice can be done for all kinds of pro bono legal work. Every area of pro bono work is potentially "sexy" for someone.