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I have several gut reactions to the lawsuit filed against Morrison & Foerster by three of its female associates in California. (They accused the firm of discriminating against mothers and pregnant women by denying them career advancement opportunities and paying them less than their colleagues.)

First was my disbelief that a firm with a super-progressive reputation would be accused of being another Neanderthal institution. But once I absorbed the news, my reaction was meh. I mean, is it really so unusual that lawyer-moms face negative stereotypes and that the mommy track is a dead end?

Those reactions don’t cancel each other out. You can be an über cool firm with “woke” family policies and still have individuals within the firm who question a woman’s commitment to work after she becomes a parent. But the question is whether those individual prejudices prove systemic discrimination.

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Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen is a senior columnist at The American Lawyer and the creator of The Careerist blog.

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