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New Group Helps Women Lawyers Open Law Firms

Women have closed the gender gap in law schools, and they are gaining in the attorney ranks. But they are far from parity in law firm ownership. Nicole Galli, who left BigLaw to found her own law firm, wants to see that change. Leading a new group called Women Owned Law, she said it will take some effort.

"I think that there is a real difference between being a woman lawyer and a woman entrepreneur," she told Big Law Business. "There are differences between practicing law and having your own practice ... and there are huge differences between running a law firm and running another business."

Women-Owned Law Firms

Galli and other organizers recently launched the networking group for women entrepreneurs to grow their law businesses. It includes lawyers, legal service providers, and others. So far, they have chapters in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C.

The organization focuses on the business of law, rather than the practice of law. Its new educational series, scheduled for each month, features discussions about SBA certification, market innovation and legal technology.

Galli said the group is comprised primarily of women lawyers, who want to help other women grow or start their own law firms. She said there is no national count of women-owned firms, but she intends to get one.

"It was mystifying to me as well that there doesn't seem to be any data," she said. "There are pockets of information, but no wholesale clearinghouse of information."

Women-Owned Businesses

According to the Institute of Women's Policy Research, about 30 percent of American small businesses are owned by women. That is an increase of about 68 percent since 2007.

At the same time, women have caught up with men in law school admissions and are catching up in attorney jobs. About 36 percent of practicing lawyers are women, according to the American Bar Association.

In addition to seeing more women in law firms, Galli said women are taking a larger role in the delivery of legal services.

"My impression is that there's a lot of women in that space." she said. "If you look at the thought leaders in that space, a lot of them are women."

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