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The legal profession cannot escape its own #MeToo moment, but it can respond to the voices emerging from the silence by implementing meaningful changes. This is the key lesson learned from a groundbreaking survey conducted by the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts.

In response to the #MeToo movement and the enormous focus on workplace behaviors that profoundly impact careers, the WBA, in partnership with the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, developed a survey to provide greater insight into the law firm environment. The survey results demonstrated that by ignoring negative conduct and bullying behaviors, law firms are paying a price in terms of employee engagement, higher attrition, diminished reputation and increased litigation risks.

The major theme that emerged from the report is that unchecked power imbalances serve as the foundation for, and perpetuate, inappropriate behaviors in the workplace. In the vast majority of survey responses, the incidents described happened to associates or to others in the firm who were young or were otherwise in a subordinate role.

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