©Minnesota Women Lawyers
In the Fall of 2010, then-MWL President Elizabeth Cutter launched the MWL Parity Initiative.
MWL's Parity Initiative Goals?
To determine the current status of all women lawyers in Minnesota.
To identify the barriers to parity.
To consider the most effective methods to overcome those barriers.
To implement specific action steps towards achieving parity.
Our first task?
We needed baseline data.
"We can't understand how far we have to go, if we don't know where we are right now."
The MWL Parity Committee
So, MWL set out to determine:
How many women attorneys were registered in Minnesota.
Where they were located.
How long they had been admitted to the bar.
What positions they held.
What additional demographics were vital to this research.
We quickly learned that Minnesota did not collect attorney demographic data.
Baseline data simply did not exist.
Upon learning this, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea took action.
A voluntary gender check-off was added to the Minnesota Attorney Registration form.
Minnesota Attorney Registration Form
The first year of data was available in Fall 2012.
Fall 2012: The First Year of "Gender Check-Off" Data
Number of Attorneys
It was a good start. However, we needed a stronger check-off response to establish a baseline.
So MWL Launched its "I Want to be Counted" Campaign.
MWL reached out to attorneys, legal leaders and administrators, asking them to "Check the Box."
After three years of "gender check-off" data, the response rate steadily increased....
% Who Checked the Box
But, still not at a rate large enough to provide a baseline number of Minnesota women attorneys.
Using the United States Census as our primary database, MWL worked with the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research....
...AND WE COUNTED FIRST NAMES!
The final result?
As of October 2014, of the 29,091 attorneys registered in Minnesota...
In the end, MWL's study classified the names of all but 91 attorneys.
(That's just .0031% unclassified).
We learned a few other things too....
About where women are practicing.
And how long they've been in the profession.
MORE GOOD NEWS: The Minnesota Supreme Court will soon begin to collect race demographics, in addition to gender, on the Minnesota Attorney Registration form.
Together, these are BIG steps in the right direction.
But, this is just the beginning. MWL will continue to advocate for comprehensive data collection, in the effort to understand and advance the status of Minnesota women attorneys.
© Minnesota Women Lawyers
Minnesota Women Lawyers extends its sincere thanks to Chief Justice Lorie Gildea and Justice Wilhelmina Wright of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Margaret Corneille, Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners, and Dan Gustafson of Gustafson Gluek PLLC
View the complete MWL Parity Data Project: First Report at www.mwlawyers.org.