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Women Raise Profile in Law Profession

VARIOUS women have advanced into the prominent ranks of the law profession, but unfair gender biases persist, according to an American Bar Association report released Sunday.

The highly visible position of attorney general is filled by Janet Reno and two other women serve on the US Supreme Court, but female attorneys say they still find themselves fighting for equal pay or firm partnerships.

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"Neither the sheer number of female law student graduates, nor the passage of time, nor even the elevation of individual women to positions of prominence has dramatically enhanced opportunities for women partners, law professors, or judges," says Laurel Bellow, chairwoman of the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession.

About 23 percent of lawyers were women in 1995, but the percentage of women who have attained firm partnerships is in the low teens, the report says. And despite the fact that women enter the law profession on equal footing with male graduates, novice female attorneys are paid on average $7,000 per year less.

The report does show some improvements since an initial study in 1988. The number of women in law schools, for example, has grown to 44 percent, raising the estimated percentage of women in the profession to 40 by 2010.

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