005: Monica Bay on "The Gender Gap in Legal Technology Leadership"Tra

FemaleTechLeader.jpg

Craig talks with Monica Bay on The Gender Gap in Legal Technology Leadership.

Transcript: 

Microsoft Word Transcript

Craig:              I’m your host Craig and this is Legal Leaders Podcast Episode 5, Monica Bay on the gender gap in legal technology leadership.

Welcome to Legal leaders Podcast - The show by and for Legal administrators, IT directors and other Law Firm leaders, today’s leaders on today’s topics.

Craig:              Monica is editor-in-chief of ALM’s Law Technology News Magazine. She is also the author of the Commons Gold Blog, manager of the EDD Update Blog and host the Law Technology Now Podcast. She is journalist, a lawyer and a Yankee’s fan. Monica is absolutely one of the top leaders in the world legal journalism. So Monica how are you doing today?

Monica:           Well I’m fine and I’m just so delighted to be asked to speak to your podcast. Thank you so much.

Craig:              Well I’m glad that you’re here. Before we get into today’s topic I want to let everyone know that following the topic will have 2 short features, law firm last and today’s tech tip. So Monica let’s talk about the topic of the gender gap.

Monica:           Certainly. This is been an ongoing problem for legal for probably forever. And everyone knows something percolates up that gets people irritated. I’m very lucky in my job. It might be helpful if give your listeners a little bit of context. I’m from California; I’ve been in New York now for about 13 years. And well it feels like it’s been 5 minutes with ALM for 28 years. I spent 13 years in our San Francisco office where I was involved in the daily operation of the Recorder Newspaper. I produced some books for a while. Did lots of things and I was one of the early adapters in cyberspace we had our initial offering was law.com and we had something called Counsel Connect where we did online seminars very early day, it’s pretty exciting. I just feel so blessed to have had such an adventure some career within one company. And then 1998 they asked me to come to New York to take over law technology news which at the time for any of you who has been around as long as me could be described as a grocery store shopper. It was not very good. The new team at the times and can you turn this into a magazine and I said yeah. That was the beginning of LTM and it’s been absolute pleasure to develop it over the last 15 years. The gender issue has been a big issue all along. The joys of being running a magazine are that I’ve been able to focus attention on this and many other issues. And I kind of have a bullet pulp that where I can pontificate and you know hopefully one or two people will pay attention to it. But it’s been a problem as we all know throughout legal. But the most recent sense reports were pretty depressing because they showed that across the board in legal and we’re talking from the most minor positions to judges that there’s a 17% discrepancy between them and living. And there’s even and I hope I’m remembering the exact statistics correctly. Even in what we would call the pink color areas of the legal profession like paralegals which I’m going to guess and pull figure out of it well or 97% of paralegals are women and even there. There’s something like I believe it’s a 9% I could be wrong on it might be 7% but there’s an even in that area there’s a discrepancy between men and the women. And to me this is just like Nike says, just do it. And I actually and I’m very proud of this one in a word for editorial that I wrote basically challenging the leaders in our profession IE, the law firm managers well law firm managing partners, the GC’s incorporate and the presidents and CEO’s and our vendors to change it. They have the power to change it; it’s ridiculous that it’s going. I find it offensive that legal where our duty is to promote justice and equality it’s shameful that our profession is so visibly and in trench and does not and has that kind of gender depth. Now am I naïve, no. Am I stupid, no? I recognize that these are not easy problems to solve. But sometimes something is simple and I went in at the time, this is a couple of years ago when Bill Polek was our CEO and I logged into his office and I said Bill I’m going to ask you something I’m 99% sure I know the answer but I have to ask you. I said you know it’s ALM gender neutral on tame he said absolutely. And I knew for the fact that was the case but I want to be able to say to people I’ve done you do it because it’s only going to change if we do it one step at a time. And the fact that not being naïve I mean there’s been instant books and all sort of things done on the difficulties getting women in legal to another industry as well to be equal. And there are difficult problems a lot of women like me did not go to big law. I had no interest in the big law environment. You know I needed to go to I always would call when I do a lot of informational interviews with women young in their career and men young in their career. I was telling you have to get yourself in the right soil, you have to get into a company or employer that where your personalities going to work. I would be the biggest flop in the planet and big luck as I’m too strong over personality. And it takes of a strong personality to be able to be an editor-in-chief and to run a magazine. But you know I don’t think I would last 10 minutes as an associate big luck because I just that does not who I am. You have to know who you are. So a lot of women self-flick out. There’s also that very difficult problem of family and child bearing. And you know if you want to have a family almost by definition that means you’re going to have to make adjustments in the early childhood years. And you know historically than men don’t have quite the same constraints of doing these books and books on this topic. You know the men tend to flame out a little bit in their 50’s when the women start to hit high gears. So there’s a lot of and I’m being very superficial here but the sociologist and there’s a lots of folks who’ve been studying this and earnestly trying to do it. One thing I have found a breathe of complete fresh air is a new book that came out by Sheryl Sanberg that has been getting incredible amounts of attention. And I have just jumped on her bandwagon big time. And I’ve speak a lot and just last week I was speaking at the American Association for Law Librarian which is an organization that has a very heavy amount of women in it. And I spoke about this book and I spoke with women in discovery about it. What I like about her book is called Lean In and her premise is we need to get women to stop leaning away from leadership positions and take the risk. And what I liked about her book it is not simplistic, it’s very pragmatic, she doesn’t preach but she gives concrete examples of how and why women can do it. Women need to have the sit at the table and a lot of times even when they’re offered that they don’t take it. Of course we’re talking in great generalities but what I would recommend the book to anybody in legal whether you’re senior, junior, male, female, parent, non-parent I personally found this action on mentoring to be terrific because she raised a whole lot of things I’d never even thought about that what makes a good mentor, how do you mentor effectively and she gives advice to young women and young men who are seeking mentors on you know what do mentors want. You know what the mistakes that folks commonly make are. And the thing she preaches more than anything else which is become my mind trait is the perfect is the enemy of the good. And she talks a lot about how don’t go into a situation expecting that you have to be perfect because nobody is. And it’s just a very interesting book and I find it very optimistic and very encouraging. And she has opened the conversation again on this topic and made it fresh again and it’s coming from Silicon Valley and it’s coming from a young mother. So it’s very refreshing to me to see the ideas and so much of this is talking about it just you know getting out and talking about it. So you know these are difficult complex concepts but we need to talk about it and we need to address it and legal needs to be the leader. I mean that’s I’ve talked probably too long on this right now. So I should let you ask me some questions.

Craig:              Well that was absolutely some great thought and you would think it would be a no brainer to have equal pay for equal work especially in leading law firms but it sounds like that’s not the case and that’s pretty sad.

Monica:           Absolutely.

Craig:              You know it’s interesting how some pockets of the world that still the way it is. I was listening to a podcast the other day about a woman who was a professional cyclist. And in the world of professional cycling there are the men’s races and there are the women’s races and the women don’t make nearly as much. And I’m the triathlon world and then in the triathlon world there would be just riding in the streets if it be you know iron men in Kahona if the women got a $25,000 prize first and the men got a $100,000. But that’s the way in cycling and you know it’s too bad that in the corporate world as well as in the law firm world we don’t have the transparency we do in the sports world or it might be easier to have equal pay for equal work.

Monica:           And yeah that’s a really interesting analysis and since I move from California to New York my family’s a sport gene kick in and I have become a diehard Yankee fan to the shocking surprise of my friends who think that the pod people have come and got me and turn me into some strange person they don’t recognize before but you know you definitely see that in some of the sports. And if you look at I mean baseball obviously women don’t play baseball but in basketball you see that where the women sports do not generate anywhere in the income event. And you know I also think we have to be practical, there certain things. I mean most times maybe some will shoot me for saying these men’s are generally stronger than women that’s nature physically stronger I mean I don’t mean mentally stronger. But I think that sometimes you know some sports you’re not going to get women. I do not see the NFL bringing in females you know maybe quarterbacks but it’s the discrepancy’s are frustrating. Tech is a wonderful movie I can’t remember the name of it the address is exact it was kind of a romantic comedy that addresses the exact issue and I will ping you and kiss anybody what’s the name of it because I’m totally blanking on it that it just wonderful. There’s been some great analysis of that. But if you look at tennis I think tennis might be the exception to prove the rule because I don’t know too much about this I might be speaking completely out of school but it seems to be that Serena and the Williams sister and the Wimbledon crowd and golf seems to be an area where there is probably more equality but that you’re right it’s a we are not going to solve the world’s problems in today but I do find that you know that all problems that you started journey with one step. And to me these issues are definitely thorny we could spend months talking about big law and all the opportunities and problems that are there. But there are things that seems really obvious to me. And you know fixing the gender pay gap to me is a no brainer. So you know people just have to walk into their boss and just ask for it. That’s kind of one of the theme that Sanberg gets into about you’re not going to get anything if you don’t asked for it you know. And even some of the smartest women don’t negotiate. The best book is a old book that I highly recommend ‘cause I learned so much about management from becoming a Yankees and understanding baseball. But also there’s a book that is probably 25 years old called, games your mother never taught you by Betty Harragan. That book was so brilliant because what it thought women is if you want to understand business you have to understand sports because things like just the things that men are thought from the day they start literally of you know my favorite thing is there’s no crying in baseball. Even if you lose a game who cares? It’s 162 there’s another one tomorrow. You know you can’t lose a lot but if you can only play your own position if you try to play at both positions. You’re going to blow out both of them. And she justice as wonderful analysis about the you know how to approach everyday business, and I think that’s amazing. I mean if you had told me when I live in California that I would learn a lot about corporate politics by becoming a baseball fan I would have laugh hilariously but I have. You know you just learn a lot about management. You know for me it was watching Joe Torrey and why did he switched pitchers that’s was the hook that got me in. But again these are not I can’t say an update these are not easy issues. But I was very pleased because last week I was speaking at the American Association of Law Librarian and I had not been at one of their conferences in about 10 years, and I was blown away by the leadership I saw. By the panels that I saw, by the and this is the organization I’m going to guess is 85% women. And I was so impressed with the programs that they did and their effectiveness in introducing technology and it’s an organization that is now front and center of my radar and I’m going to watch much more carefully because you know I just haven’t heard very much from them before. And it was a real eye opener to see the amazing things that they are doing.

Craig:              They have some great thinkers in that world. I have a few friends and it’s really some good thought come out of there. And I’m a baseball fan too not a Yankees fan but I’m a baseball fan as well. Hey I wanted to bring this down just to maybe a more practical level and just ask one question. What do you feel practically can legal administrators and or IT directors do to maybe take a step in the right direction?

Monica:           Well there’s a lot of things they can do. And the first and the most important thing is as Sanberg says get a feed at the table. Raise your hand, be active, sign up for a project. You know if someone is looking don’t let all the other people do the stuff. Volunteer to take on a project. Don’t be afraid of I couldn’t possibly do that or I’m not expert in that. Dive in, take a risk. And remember that there are no owner’s manual for how to do just about anything and if you take those chances don’t feel that you have to be perfect on everything you do. And if you take those chances and classic things like be smart about your boss. Figure out ways that you can manage your boss up by helping him or her to accomplish the goals. Be very savvy about chipping in and don’t be afraid to suggest things it’s learning perhaps to be and this might be hard for some folks learning to be more assertive and to take chances. If you never try to steal second base you’re not going to get the whole and play the stuff. You know you have to take good risks, calculated risk and you have to be brave and be bold. It’s for a lot of people that’s stepping outside of their comfort zone but I think you take that first step. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not pushing enough. And I think there’s in a lot of cultures there’s a lot of legal cultures there can be a real fear of making mistakes but you’re not going to succeed if you don’t have some duds. You know it’s just a way of life and I think that’s hard for some people. And men have to be more sensitive to this too. You know the mindful of making sure you’re giving everybody a chance and you know you’re reaching out I mean it’s just being multi-cultural and making sure that everybody has a voice. You know everybody has a voice. I know that’s kind of [inaudible] but it works. Does that answer your question?

Craig:              It does indeed; I sure appreciate that. Anything else you want to add on this topic?

Monica:           Yeah one thing I would suggest is going to be totally self-serving but in a concept of reaching out and doing spotlight there’s 2 concrete things that were LTN help you. Number one is we have a contest every year for the LTN Innovation Awards. And that includes IT director of the year, IT champion of the year who was a non-IT director. So in many cases that might be a lawyer who particularly champion. And then the best use of technology in a law firm a corporate counsel or government environment and a pro-bono project. Enter that, enter other contest because I think historically women have been raised not to shine the light or you know we’ve been told this impolite to brag. Nonsense, you know it’s like a lottery if you don’t enter you’re not going to win. And the second thing that I would suggest and this is utterly self-serving because LTN success is because of the community. We have this amazing community and the whole model for LTN is to serve our legal technology community. And we do that largely by being a forum for where you can write, you can provide content. And it’s a really great way to quietly and steadily get your, you become an authority. You become an expert and it can help you in your career. It  can help you at your firm, it really helps you in your job hunting. I’ve had people tell me the first thing they do when they’re looking for a new worker is to go on LTN and see how many articles they’ve written or they see who’s been writing and who they want to attribute. And it’s a very easy process you basically ping me with a story idea and I’ll talk to you about it and if it looks like a fit I will green line it. And then it goes back and forth we editing and boomed you’re a published author. And that’s the kind step you can do that helps you, that helps the community, that helps LTN and it also mostly helps us all learn about the legal technology we’re working with. And it’s very painless, and it doesn’t cost a penny. You know so if anybody is interested in that they can ping me at mbay@alm.com. And I can’t encourage you enough because part of my whole agenda with LTN and it goes back to baseball. I firmly believe that it’s not just the folks on the top of Masted that make law firms work it takes a team. It is not always they’re a cheater who gets the winning walk off home run. It sometimes the new kids Zoley who’s been on the team for a month. So I really believe in team work that it takes everybody and everybody’s important. And that something that I push and push with law technology news to be the voice for the full community. I rant about the law firm that only list their lawyers and don’t list their support staff and their administrators and the CEO profile because it takes a team, takes a team. So that would be my advice on easy ways that you can established yourself in the community and it’s easy and painless and it helps you in your job hunting.

Craig:              Well that’s excellent. Well that’s great advice. And that leads me into today’s tech tip which I would imagine you would agree with and that is jump on board with social networking. Social networking it’s not the future, it’s now and you really need to get in there and what I would suggest is that you pick one network, you know one social network out there and become a part of that community on that and connect with people and contribute. In the legal work your best bud is probably going to be LinkedIn or Twitter and for more on this topic I highly recommend I’ll put a link to the show notes into this and other things we’ve mentioned in the podcast. Michael High has a podcast called, how do busy leaders find time for social media. So I would recommend that. And now for today’s law firm last this was one that happened to me and I just thought it was pretty funny because in the law firm world we tend to get really unhappy about typos. But this was the typo that led to a last. So I do a lot of training and a lot floor support. And I had a real eager beaver young attorney come in and asked me about a class, he didn’t want to miss any of the classes. And he said, what is this flag support class? Well as you probably guess that was supposed to just read floor support and there was no class but I thought it was pretty funny. So anyway, so Monica you’ve mentioned your email address and I will put that in the show notes. Anything else that you’d like to promote? Anything that’s going on in your world?

Monica:           Well you’ve been very kind and I’m just grateful for the opportunity, thank you so much. We’re coming up, I’m trying to think of what our next event is. We will be acted at ELTA and that’s going to be in Las Vegas. I’m speaking in fact I’m delivering the keynote with one of the leaders who is involved with ELTA’s. They’re doing a project on the future of law and analyzing where they’re anticipating that legal is going. And it’s a very exciting area I know a lot of folks have learned a lot about the reinvent law activities. And I’m very excited that I apologize that I don’t have the gentlemen’s name in front of me but that’s going to be the opening day keynote. So I hope people will come and definitely coming talk with us. I will be at ELTA through Thursday. And would be happy to talk to anyone about writing and want to hear from you and what you think are the big trends. And again my email is mbay@alm.com. My twitter handles are @lawtechnews, which is the primary one I write on and then @ltnmonicabay which I really haven’t pay too much attention to that, need to build up. And I thank you so much.

Craig:              Well great, well it’s been great. And one further thing I wanted to mention to the listeners the book that Monica mentioned earlier, lean in by Sheryl Sanberg. If you will leave a comment in the show notes I’m going to pick one person at random and give them a kindle copy of that book. So leave, if you want a copy leave just any comment in the show notes and I’ll pick that out random. So thanks so much for your time Monica.

Monica:           Thank you so much, what an awesome gift. That sounds great. I’m sure somebody will love that book.

Craig:              Well good deal. Well that is a wrap for Episode 5.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Legal Leaders Podcast. For your law firm training and consulting needs please visit alawfirmtrainer.com.