The presence of women in South Korea’s legal sector continues to grow.
Last year, 41.1% of people who passed the bar were women.
But even though more women are being employed by the country’s top law firms, it’s still tough for them to reach the top of the career ladder.

“In a survey of 18 of the biggest law firms in the country, women made nearly a quarter of all the attorneys; but only 5% of executive board members were women.”

And it’s a similar situation in the U.S.
Women make up 45% of the associates at America’s top 200 law firms a much higher percentage than in Korea but the proportion of women decreases for higher positions within the firms.
A female attorney at a major firm who is in charge of creating equal opportunities for women in the legal profession says factors other than a knowledge of law make it difficult for women.

“Ability to get cases from clients is a skill separate from practicing law, and it is affected by other factors such as one’s network. This is a hard problem for women to overcome.”

Ms. Jeon, an associate at a big law firm says she’s not at a level to consider the systematic issues for promotion, but she still sees personal life getting in the way.

“There’s going to be a hiatus after giving birth, so there will be a period with no experience I’m worried that this could negatively affect my reviews and promotions in the future.”

However, she says at least her firm is making efforts to accommodate the situation.

“Many female associates have childbirth coming up, so the firm’s culture allows use of paid time off for hospital visits and working from home.”

As for other industries, laws have been passed recently to make sure women make up a certain portion of a company’s executives.
But as well as changes in the law, cultural changes are needed to reach full gender equality.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.

Reporter : tkim@arirang.com

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