Partners Are Individuals: Applying Title VII to Female Partners in Large Law Firms

Abstract

Women in large law firm partnerships continue to face an uphill battle. While much scholarly attention has been afforded to the relative scarcity of female partners—according to the most recent statistics, women constitute only 18 percent of partners in the largest law firms—less attention has been paid to the continuing discrimination faced by those women who do make it to the partnership level.

This Comment aims to fill that gap in the scholarship analyzing the legal profession. First, this Comment identifies the numerous ways in which female lawyers continue to face discrimination even after they make partner. Second, the Comment highlights a serious gap in current antidiscrimination law that perpetuates discrimination against female partners: Courts have interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect employees but not partners, leaving female partners without recourse when they are discriminated against by their firms. Finally, the Comment offers a solution based on textualist-intentionalist statutory interpretation that would bring partners within the ambit of Title VII in order to protect female law firm partners and to disincentivize discrimination against them.

Cochrane-65.2
By uclalaw