Losing Our [Best] Minds: Addressing the Attrition Crisis of Women Lawyers in a Post-Pandemic World

California Women Lawyers and California Lawyers Association Publish Report Addressing How to Keep Women in the Legal Profession


SACRAMENTO – California Women Lawyers is pleased to announce the publication of “Losing Our [Best] Minds: Addressing the Attrition Crisis of Women Lawyers in a Post-Pandemic World,” a joint project with California Lawyers Association. 

The report, which discusses the research of Patrick Krill, founder and principal of Krill Strategies, considers the factors that cause women to leave the legal profession and makes recommendations for employers on how to address these factors and keep women in the practice of law.

“The legal profession is hard on all lawyers, but especially women lawyers, who are more likely to leave the profession because of work-family conflicts and other stressors,” CWL president Ana Storey said. “CWL is proud to partner with the California Lawyers Association to highlight the reasons women consider opting out of the law and what the profession can do to keep women and women of color.”

Krill’s 2021 study of California and D.C. lawyers – “Stress, drink, leave: An examination of gender-specific risk factors for mental health problems and attrition among licensed lawyers” – found that 24.2% of women were considering leaving the legal profession due to mental health problems, burnout, or stress, compared to only 17.4% of men surveyed. The top factor for women leaving or contemplating leaving the profession was work-family conflict, even though the women surveyed were less likely to be married with children than the men surveyed.

The CWL-CLA report issues a call to action for legal employers, offering recommendations and strategies for retaining women – and all – lawyers. Among the recommendations:

  1. Offer flexible employment options
  2. Prioritize employee well-being
  3. Enhance attention to leadership training and professional development
  4. Deploy strategies to promote connection and a sense of belonging
  5. Utilize strategies for accountability

The report also recommends that job-seekers and law students learn about the well-being in law crisis and assess a potential employer’s culture and the prioritization of the well-being of its personnel.

“Losing Our [Best] Minds” was authored by CWL president-elect Jodi Cleesattle; Bree Buchanan, board president of the Institute for Well-being in Law, and Katy Goshtasbi, JD, CEO of Puris Consulting.

Additional work group members who assisted on the CWL-CLA project include CWL president Ana Storey, Koji Fukumura, Judith Gordon, Michelle Harmon, Sungina Jagdish, Layla Khamoushian, Martine Marich, Hon. Catherine Purcell, Sara Rief, Hon. Yvette Roland, and CLA Initiatives Manager, Lauren Oakley.


Click here to view the full report


About California Women Lawyers. California Women Lawyers was established in 1974 “to advance women in the profession of law; to improve the administration of justice; to better the position of women in society; to eliminate all inequities based on gender, and to provide an organization for collective action and expression germane to the aforesaid purposes.” CWL, which has members statewide, seeks to advance women through legislative advocacy; provide amicus support in cases affecting women; prepare women for judicial appointments and political office; evaluate candidates for judicial appointment; recognize outstanding women lawyers and judges; provide scholarships to exceptional law students; provide valuable networking opportunities; and more. For more information about CWL, visit www.cwl.org.

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