Across our society, maverick women continue to make progress in creating greater equality with men. As a woman who has spent years in the legal profession, I can see this progress across the judicial landscape, from an increase in appointments for female judges to rising enrollment of young women in law schools. It’s true that we have a long way to go before this (or any) profession truly embraces women as equal partners, but in many areas of the law, such as mass tort litigation, women are making their presence known.
One of the key areas where female lawyers are changing the game is in the area of women’s health and product liability related to products made for and marketed to women. Back in the 1990s, researcher Joan E. Steinman published a powerful paper arguing that the male-dominated legal profession was failing to pursue cases relating to women’s health, resulting in an unsafe medical environment for women. Since then, as more women have joined the profession, we’ve begun to change that reality. Now, after landmark mass tort efforts related to birth control and other drugs, our profession is getting women the relief they deserve and ensuring that those who make and market products to women know that product failures won’t go unnoticed.
Because we’re relentless in pursuing the cases that matter, female lawyers are also rising to leadership positions in the profession, from the Mass Tort Trial Lawyers Association to the Mass Tort Leadership Committee for the American Bar Association. This is critical. An important recent study by Dana Alvaré showed that from 2011 to 2016 only 16.55% of the attorneys in lead plaintiff positions were female—a number that needs to rise if we’re going to continue to make progress.
At Napoli Shkolnik, we’re proud to have female lawyers in key positions throughout the firm, so women who have been harmed by defective products or have experienced medical or pharmaceutical malpractice can know the attorneys on their team will understand their circumstances and fight for a fair resolution.