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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Challenges faced by women in legal profession

Major Challenges confronted by Women in Legal Profession

Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing . . .

Women in legal profession who have very little support in litigation & insufficient professional network face indefinite struggle in the field of legal practice, and gradually with time it becomes tough for many to pursue further. Like many other working women in other jobs or profession, women lawyers are also forced to choose between their careers and family. 

Here are some major challenges faced by women in legal profession in India,-

1) Gender bias & discrimination at workplace: It is often seen that women are underestimated while allocating challenging tasks at work. They are forced to be contend with lesser professional fees in compare to their male counterparts. Women are also denied benefits, bonuses and promotions at times. They are made to feel like to be less competent and less reliable and hence employers don't confide on them or neither wants to invest on them; especially when women take maternity leave. Also it has been unearthed during interview that, they are being asked questions pertaining to marriage plans, family plans etc. which eventually becomes one of the criteria for an employer to to take a call during hiring process. Questions related to travelling to different places in connection to work is also asked in an interview. Some agrees to take the challenge and some back out due to social and family constraints. Women are continuously being doubted and challenged of their competency and sincerity. 

2) Marriage & Maternity breaks: Often women sacrifice their personal needs while coping up with never-ending professional responsibilities. They are equally concerned about achieving and meeting the challenging professional responsibilities and in a way things get complex and tough while pursuing long hours of work. Therefore, women lawyers struggle a lot in maintaining a balance alongside a demanding career. Professionally, it is humiliating for a woman lawyer who is questioned of her dedication, sincerity & commitment towards work when she gets married or take maternity leave. It seems that women in the law firm and corporate sector is the worst effected. Even though however competent or deserving candidate she may be, they are victim of prejudice when they are denied of their earned entitled promotion or many other benefits. In a way they loose out opportunities to climb a ladder of success in reaching up to upper ranks of the legal structure of a Law firm/ corporate sector. 

On the other hand women in litigation also find it extremely difficult to cope with the gap that is created due to maternity break. It is a known fact that, being visible in courts is a part of the deal in becoming a successful lawyer. Women in litigation has certain freedom to work as there is no fixed hours or deadlines to follow. However, the independent practitioners sacrifice their earnings during this period as they are not in a position to reach out to work hard to acquire clients and work. In legal sector continuity in legal practice is highly appreciated by employers and clients, & these are the major reasons of setbacks for a women in legal profession in order to pursue their career with full control. Long absence from the court room corridors which is considered to be "the integral place" is certainly a doom for their legal career. 

By the way what difference does it make for a women lawyer in Law firm/ corporate sector to that of women in litigation!  

3) Denied of rightful fees: It is extremely humiliating to find, when women legal professionals are denied of their rightful fees. Independent women legal practitioners often have to face a very difficult time in procuring clients and professional fees.

4) Gender Preferences while recruiting a lawyer in corporate: Many a times while applying for a position with a respectable company via job portals, the requirement for the position reads- "Only Male Candidates shall apply for the post" or "Preferably male candidates". This is humiliating, disheartening and gender discrimination. 

5) Family & Social pressure: Mainly, the problem begins post-marriage. At this stage things get difficult in maintaining a fine balance between legal practice and family obligations. Marriage to someone who is in the same profession could be advantageous for a woman legal practitioner or else things could get difficult. Hectic work schedules, late night shifts, attending meetings at odd hours, travelling to places due to work are few of the major reasons for woman lawyers to quit their jobs and stop practicing. Another reason is when there is a lack of family support post maternity and lack of creche facilities, which are also few of the reasons for setback in their legal career. 

To the extent, such circumstances forces a woman legal professional to sacrifice their career at the end.

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