Allegheny County Bar Association announces the founding of its Institute for Gender Equality

Association releases Task Force’s follow-up recommendations in response to 2005 Membership Survey that showed little or no improvement in gender equality

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — June 17, 2008. Officers of the Allegheny County Bar Association today announced the founding of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Institute for Gender Equality. The Institute is expected to begin classes in the first quarter of 2009 and will be open to all members of the bar association. The formation of the Institute is the key recommendation in a report that the association’s Gender Equality Task Force released today in response to the 2005 Membership Survey which showed little or no improvement in gender equality issues in the local legal community compared to a similar survey in 1990. The follow-up report and recommendations can be found on the association’s website at

According to Professor Ken Gormley, president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, “We are proud to announce the founding of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Institute for Gender Equality, and we believe strongly that this is a positive step forward in addressing the issue of gender equality in the Allegheny County legal community. We were disappointed in the 2005 Membership Survey results, but over the past 18 months our Gender Equality Task Force members have been researching law firms and bar associations, conducting focus groups and interviews, and drilling down into those survey results to determine where change is needed. They have developed a comprehensive list of recommendations and best practices that we believe will help us, if we work together, to ensure gender equality in our legal community.

While we know most industries and cities are also dealing with gender bias, we want to be proactive in finding solutions. Make no mistake about it, the Institute and our Task Force recommendations are just the initial steps of our long-term commitment to gender equality.”

According to Linda Hernandez, the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Gender Equality Coordinator, the Institute’s seminars will be open to the entire membership of the bar association and the law students of the University of Pittsburgh Law School and the Duquesne University School of Law. The Institute’s classes will be held at the association’s headquarters and other locations in Pittsburgh.

“It is our belief that the graduates of the Institute will be equipped with additional leadership, management, and negotiation skills to effect change in their organizations and to help us mentor future participants,” said Hernandez. “The time for just talking about gender equality is past and the emphasis going forward must be on a collaborative effort to secure real change for all stakeholders.”

Hernandez will be the Director of the Institute, which will fall under the oversight of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation and will consist of programs in areas such as leadership and management, business development, negotiation skills, and work life balance. The Institute’s faculty will include local attorneys and educators and nationally known speakers.

The Task Force is headed up by Attorney Gary Hunt and the Honorable Lisa Pupo Lenihan and includes four subcommittees: Work-Life Balance and Compensation, Job Satisfaction and Retention, Perceptions and Attitudes, and Best Practices.

In addition to the formation of the Institute, the list of recommendations from the Allegheny County Gender Equality Task Force includes:

  • Development of mentoring systems
  • Creation of an unbiased compensation system
  • Increased business development training
  • Development of programs to address negotiation skills
  • Development of best practices regarding work-life balance
  • Focus on decreasing the number of female attorneys leaving the profession

Chartered in 1870 and headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Bar Association is a professional organization with more than 6,500 member attorneys, judges, district justices, legal administrators, and paralegals.

  Professor Ken Gormley, President
Allegheny County Bar Association
    Linda Varrenti Hernandez, Esquire
Gender Equality Coordinator
Allegheny County Bar Association
    Tom Loftus
Allegheny County Bar Association
Other contact info:
  Gary Hunt
Tucker Arensberg, PC
    Hon. Lisa Pupo Lenihan
U.S. Magistrate Judge