Shook Leaders Provide Insight on Women in Law

Shook Chair Madeleine McDonough and Partner Carrie McAtee were interviewed about the dearth of women lawyers at law firms. The American Bar Association reports more women graduate from law school than men but fewer women become partners or rise to executive ranks. Shook is an exception, earning recognitions including “Best Law Firm for Women” by Working Mother Magazine for 10 consecutive years.  McDonough told The Kansas City Business Journal it takes “constant effort and vigilance” to make inroads for women lawyers. 

“The one word I try to remember a lot is intentionality because change isn’t going to happen if you’re not intentional about it,” said McDonough, who became Shook’s chair in 2017. “You need to ensure you don’t have some implicit bias going on, but that you’re creating real opportunities for people from all backgrounds. It has to be conscious and intentional, and we really work hard on that.” 

COVID has also impacted the profession as women lawyers are juggling clients and managing their children’s virtual education.

“We’re really concerned about the impact the pandemic could have on our profession because the number of women we’ve seen exiting the workforce is at a higher rate than men,” said McAtee, a partner and former chair of Shook Hardy's hiring committee. “The number of women just contemplating leaving is going up, as well. ... We could end up going backwards.”

In January, Shook announced Partner Hildy Sastre would join Alicia Donahue to serve as co-chairs of Shook’s powerhouse Product Liability Litigation Practice. Both serve on Shook’s Executive Committee which is composed of 45% women lawyers. Women make up 50% of office leadership, and 32% of practice group leadership are women at Shook.