The recent study by lawyer and sociology doctoral candidate Dana Alvare documented the severe gender gap in the appointment of females to lead roles on the plaintiff side in multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Yes, the research shows that the niche still operates as the old-line Boys' Club.
From 2011 through 2016, female laywers represented only 16.6% of the appointed class counsel or members of plaintiffs steering committees in MDL.
The one bright spot had been that in 2015, there had been a 27.7% increase. Here are the details reported by lawyer-journalist Kathryn Rubino at Abovethelaw.com.
So, how can this situation change?
"Judges have wide discretion to appoint lead counsel in MDLs."
Clearly, they can become change agents.
The rub, as Rubino also points out, is:
" ... they [judges] tend to give weight to attorneys who have had similar roles in the past, which can create a closed feedback loop, with little opportunity for outsiders to break in."
So, while female attorneys might not find this niche promising, the study can trigger reform. The challenge is for this inequity to receive sustained media attention. That should be both in establishment and social media.
Way back in the 1970s, crusader Ralph Nader brought about the reality of consumer protection through the courts.
Today, though, the Nader type might train to become ultra-savvy in media relations. Will the heroes of the people in this second decade of the 21st century be skillful public relations players who know how to put an issue out there?
For example, in AdAge, crisis communications expert Gene Grabowski analyzes what United Airlines has to do to restore its branding. A partner at kglobal, Grabowski has developed special expertise in the new kinds of problems created when negative developments are caught on online video or what goes down is entirely an online experience.
Here is Grabowki's insight in AdAge. The underdogs who study what Grabowski has to say can get the attention of decision-makers.
Women in the legal sector can become DIY lobbyists. In addition, they may consider contracting the services of leaders in traditional and digital influence. The playing field for change seemed to have moved from the courts to direct proactive messaging to the power structure.
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