In tech, women like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg dominate multiple conversations, chronicled in great detail in the media. Carly Fiorina is back, this time with microloans, which is very promising space to be in. And, there is every possibility that Meg Whitman can turn around H-P.
Yet, what do we hear from women in the legal sector? Their most prominent representatives have always been fictional. The most recent pop culture female lawyer is Alicia on "The Good Wife." And they stand out for their absence on "Downton Abbey." The barristers are male. Players like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are not in the role of lawyer.
We don't hear much from female lawyers and that very lack of presence in the media, at TED conferences, and in politics could be holding them back on the way to equity partner. Visibility is a form of power, right up there with wealth, ability to obstruct, and likability.
I have a hunch female lawyers are not out there with outsize brandnames because they, the mentors who support them, and their firms don't understand public relations. To become in legal circles what Sandberg is in tech ones demands a comprehensive public relations infrastructure. That's a lot more than a few hours with the firm's marketing person about finetuning the web profile, putting out a press release about a win in court, and publishing an article targeted at lawyers not clients.
Female lawyers on the partner track should negotiate that kind of full public relations support. Part of the negotiation would be putting in for fewer billable hours and more minutes on "Jimmy Kimmel," a keynote address at the American Psychological Association (not the American Bar Association), and membership in the World Economic Forum.
Female lawyers as rock stars would create the demand for many more female lawyers.