Women at Dinse - 2016 Update

The Vermont Women's Fund Benefit last night featuring Jodi Kantor of the New York Times was an inspirational reminder of the challenges women still face in the workplace and the remarkable success of women at Dinse.  Our firm is proud to be a lead sponsor of the Vermont Women's Fund Benefit, an especially important cause for a law firm leading the way for women attorneys. 

The first time we noted publicly that women are having remarkable success at Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew PC was back in 2010.  Our track record with respect to women attorneys was impressive at that point and we’ve maintained it since that time.  I blogged about this in 2013 and 2010. Our precise numbers change from time to time each year due to new hires and the normal flux in personnel.  Our current snapshot, after the past year’s retirements, new hires and departures, includes 18 partners and counsel of whom nine (50% - eight partners and our one counsel) are women.   The one named partner who remains in full-time practice with the firm is a woman (Karen McAndrew) who has been a named partner for over 20 years.  We have nine Practice Group Leaders at the firm, of whom five (55%) are women.  Of our eight associate attorneys, three (40%) are women.  We expect that our ongoing recruitment for at least one new associate will change our associate balance this year. 

Dinse is a general practice commercial law firm recognized as a leader in our market.  The remarkable profile of women in leadership at Dinse is in stark contrast to the experience of women at law firms nationwide and among our peer firms in Vermont.   The fact that this trend has held at Dinse over at least the past six years shows that it isn't an aberration at a singular point in time but rather a significant and durable characteristic of the firm.   Law360’s Glass Ceiling Report published in April 2016 provides national context for Dinse’s record of women in leadership.

“Women have made up close to 50 percent of graduates from U.S. law schools for the past decade and now comprise nearly 48 percent of summer associates, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the American Bar Association.  But the percentage of female attorneys employed at every level of the legal industry remains firmly stuck where it has been for the past few years…. Law360's third annual Glass Ceiling Report, which collected and analyzed headcount data from more than 300 firms, shows that men continue to make up nearly two-thirds of all attorneys and nearly 80 percent of partners at U.S. firms surveyed. Those numbers haven't budged over the past three years….”  

Our firm doesn’t have a policy or goal to achieve gender balance.   At Dinse we hire the best attorneys we find regardless of gender.  We’re known for a strong firm culture, and there may be a connection.  Our firm’s culture for almost 100 years has been to provide the highest quality legal representation while maintaining active involvement with our families and our communities.  Named partner John Dinse (retired) reports that when he joined the firm in 1950, this culture was explained to him as the firm’s established culture since its inception in 1917. The firm’s culture has been fostered and maintained to today and is acknowledged as a priority by the firm’s partners.  So while we haven’t identified a particular reason why women thrive, lead and succeed at Dinse, it’s likely the firm’s culture is a significant factor.