Prevalence of sexual harassment among lawyers in general, and law firms in particular

Incidence rates vary from one in four Australian female lawyers to two in five female barristers in Great Britain to two thirds female lawyers in a study of LegalWeek. More than 60% American female lawyers working in the private sector had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, while another source reported that almost two-thirds of women lawyers in the U.S. reported experiencing sexual harassment in their law firms. One paper emphasized the particular challenge in law firms and concluded that “the evidence of discrimination in private firms is weighty and convincing”*, and in terms of prevalence of the problem law firms ranked second in the legal sector after solo practitioners in another study.

However, looking at data cross-culturally we are also faced with the challenge of disentangling the interplay of levels of sexual harassment itself, the willingness to report it, and the regional norms for the levels of acceptance of it. In Sweden, data is scant although a survey by the Swedish union JUSEK in 2005 indicated that 23% had been sexually harassed, and 4% had reported such incidents. More reliable data is needed to improve the understanding of this persuasive problem. 

References are furnished upon request.


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