Women In Intellectual Property Law
I recently encountered the article, Gender diversity in intellectual property. I tried to research the issue further, but couldn't find much on the issue. The only other article of substance I found was another Wisconsin story, Women of Intellectual Property: Firm sees benefit to marketing women in IP practice. Both articles claim that women bring important assets to their firms. I think the articles touch on a few of the reasons that diversity is important. One key reason is that every client is different, with different needs and preferences. Some clients prefer older lawyers with decades of experience, while others prefer to work with a newbie who is more accessible. Likewise some clients prefer men and some prefer women. They may prefer women for any number of reasons. They have an invention related to "women's interests," such as a new blender or baby toy. They may communicate better with a woman. They may feel less intimidated by a woman lawyer. Whatever the reason, clients often have a preference for the type of lawyer they want.
In order to serve the widest range of clients, diversity is a must. Not only does it help in client relations, but it helps in problem solving. If you take the old IBM model of clones in identical suits, you get 100 recitations of the same solution. If you change the mix to allow different cultures, different genders, different ages, different views of all sorts, you get 100 different solutions from which to choose. This benefits the client and the firm alike.
I'm proud that DCR has one of the highest percentages of women in IP of the Oklahoma City firms (all of the 8 biggest firms with IP departments have less than 18%). We can't claim the highest percentage because at least one sole practitioner can claim 100%, but I think we have a good mix. Among our attorneys and agents, we can claim 25% are women. While this may sound like a small number, women only constitute about 20% of engineering graduates, so there are relatively few women in IP coming out of law schools.
DCR's large percentage of women is probably a reflection of the firm culture. Obviously, a firm with a blog is progressive, but the willingness to hire a diverse group of people emphasizes that the firm is committed to providing the best service for it's clients, while providing an interesting atmosphere for the people.