Lawyers Create Women's-only Offices in Brazil

Despite being half of those registered with the OAB, women are a minority at the top of legal careers

São Paulo

A company acquisition process stalled, and the lawyer who took care of the business had to stay at work. So she missed her son's birthday party. When she returned, the child turned his back and said that he no longer recognized her as a mother. The lawyer resigned.

Researcher Patrícia Bertolin heard this story in 2014 when she was preparing the book "Women in Advocacy - Male Career Standards or Glass Ceiling." The book deals with the bottlenecks that make it difficult for women to reach the top of law firms.

She interviewed 32 lawyers and lawyers from 14 of the country's largest law firms that work in all areas of law. In that year, women were less than 30% of the members of these boards, despite being half of the employees.

To change this situation, lawyers have opened offices exclusively for women, some with the corporate name "society of lawyers."

Chaves Alves e Salomi Advogados office: Maíra Beauchamp Salomi, Pamela Torres Villar, Maria Paes Barreto de Araújo Carvalho and Marina Chaves Salomi. (Foto: Adriano Vizoni/Folhapress, PODER) - Adriano Vizoni

Claudia Bernasconi left one of the country's most prominent criminal law offices for a bank headed by women because she wanted to spend more time with her kids. In the current office, there are six partners, only one of whom is a man. In all, 25 people work there, 19 of them women.

"In the woman's office, if you look at people and say 'they called me from school and my son is sick,' your boss says 'go, go see what your son has.' In the other office, I called my husband and said: 'they called from school. Caio has a fever and needs to go home '. It is a cultural issue. It is much easier for another woman to understand that you will be late because your child is sick."

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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