Press Releases

ACTEC Releases Video Addressing Gender Inequality in the Legal Profession


Contact: Pamela Goldsmith, 202-465-8270

Washington, DC – June 7, 2021: The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) today released its video, Gender Inequality in the Legal Profession, examining how the profession fares on the issue of gender equity, particularly in trust and estate litigation. The video is the College’s seventh in its monthly informational series – Planning for a Diverse and Equitable Future, a project of ACTEC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee, funded by The ACTEC Foundation. 

Statistics show that more than half of law school graduates are women, while only 40 percent of litigators are women. Income disparity between men and women prevails in the legal profession with men averaging $108K per year and women making $101K. Additionally, only 25 percent of equity partners in law firms are women.  

In a discussion moderated by ACTEC Fellow Amy B. Beller, Fellows Gail E. MautnerNina B. Stryker and Jennifer F. Hillman share research and consider what strides have been made in gender equality in the legal profession, and what gender issues remain that may specifically affect trust and estate litigation. Topics addressed include differences in men and women being nominated as fiduciaries, gender as a component in the mediation of trusts and estates disputes, gender challenges in planning, differences in litigation approaches and the consideration of stereotypes that can negatively affect clients.

Litigator Jennifer Hillman explains that data in the New York State Bar Association’s 2017 report found that female attorneys accounted for just 25 percent of all attorneys appearing in commercial and criminal cases in courtrooms across New York State. Data also showed that the more complex the matter, the less likely it was for a woman to appear as lead counsel, something Hillman says needs to be worked on.

“There are a number of advantages to being a woman as a trust and estate litigator,” said Hillman. “So much of what we do in fiduciary litigation is more than just the issue at hand, as alluded to by all the panelists in our discussion. It is about family matters and it’s about relationships.”

For further information about the Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity series, please visit

About The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC): Established in 1949, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) is a national, nonprofit association of approximately 2,400 lawyers and law professors from throughout the United States and abroad. ACTEC members (Fellows) are peer-elected on the basis of professional reputation and expertise in the preparation of wills and trusts, estate planning, probate, trust administration and related practice areas. The College’s mission includes the improvement and reform of probate, trust and tax laws and procedures and professional practice standards. ACTEC frequently offers technical comments with regard to legislation and regulations but does not take positions on matters of policy or political objectives.

About The ACTEC Foundation:  The ACTEC Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel or ACTEC. The Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) that offers education to families and professionals and supports students interested in the trust and estate area of the law. Through continued financial support, The ACTEC Foundation offers professional development, scholarships and education for a number of important efforts, including legal education, educational support, public initiatives, legal publications and the student editorial board.

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