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Women Dominate New Partner Classes at Wachtell, Cleary, and King & Spalding

Vivia Chen

November 16, 2011

Woman happyCorrection: The original post erroneously listed Akin Gump as one of the firms where women made up a majority of new partners. It should have been King & Spalding. We regret the error.

News roundup from the world of law:

1. Good news about women—at last! After all the depressing stuff I've been reporting about women lately, I'm relieved that I can finally tell you something positive. At several firms this year (see related post on Debevoise & Plimpton), women made up the majority of new partners! So far, these firms  include:

    -- Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (four women out of seven new partners);

    -- King & Spalding (five out of eight); and

    -- Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (two out of three).

Okay, two out of three might be a fluke, but it's noteworthy because we're talking  about über-elite, über-macho Wachtell, Lipton, which has always had pathetic stats on women partners. (As Wachtell alum David Lat at Above the Law points out, there are only six female partners out of a total of 78, not counting the two new additions). One of the new partners, corporate lawyer Karessa Cain (sounds like a reality show star, no?), made partner in only six years! Man, her time sheets must be a sight to behold.

But the new partner that really intrigues me is litigator Elaine Golin, who worked at Wachtell from 1997 to 2003, then left for unspecified reasons before returning as counsel in 2007. I could be wrong, but it seems Golin's hiatus from 2003 to 2007 was for personal reasons, because the firm bio doesn't account for the gap time (usually the bio will tout that the lawyer left to do to a clerkship, take a government post, run a hedge fund, etc). So what did Golin do during that four- year break from Power Central—travel to exotic lands, open a trattoria, have a bunch of kids? Assuming she did something unrelated to law—and I'm imagining some kind of Eat, Pray, Love thing—that'd make Wachtell a hipper place than I'd have expected.

Yes, of course, I contacted both Cain and Golin for this post, but neither returned my e-mails. But that's Wachtell for you—even when the news is in its favor, it can't be bothered.

Lawtalk-book-cover2. I must be a lawyer after all, because I find this kind of  interesting: a book about the origins of legal expression. Lawtalk: The Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions tells you everything you've always wanted to know about all those nonsensical legal terms. Legal Blog Watch's contributor Bruce Carton offers these examples (text follows):  

"One bite at the apple": This expression was originally stated as "one bite at the cherry," which made sense because a cherry is small and eaten in one bite. However, in the 20th century, the word "cherry" took on the additional meaning of "hymen" or "virgin." . . . [T]he phrase appears to have gradually changed to "one bite of the apple" because its users were embarrassed by the new double-entendre . . . this substitution was somewhat unfortunate because the switch was from an image that made sense to one that did not, since "usually you get lots of bites at an apple."  

"Hearsay": This term originated in a sixteenth-century textbook on French language that included English translations. In one of the discussions, a cleric is trying to explain the properties of earth, water, air, and fire, but admits this is not his area of expertise. He stated French words meaning "I know nothing about it except by hearing it said," which was translated in the book as "I knowe nothying of it but by here say." The phrase "by hear say" gradually began to appear in English writings, eventually as a single word: "hearsay."

Personally, I can't wait to look up "piercing the veil."

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I was curious about Golin, too. I did find a reference to where she represented the now-disgraced MF Global in a recent settlement: http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Securities/News/2011/08_-_August/MF_Global_in_$90_million_accord_over_rogue_trader/

Maybe they made her partner so she wouldn't talk. My guess would have been that she spent those four years not having sex with strangers in foreign lands, as Vivia fantasizes, but cross-pollinating a government agency. to the advantage of one-percenters.

Here's an article that mentions her in 2006: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/22/technology/22njCOVER.html?pagewanted=all The articles describes her as nothing more than an "avid blog reader." So that mean there's still hope for me to make partner in a biglaw firm, too?

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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