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Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association teaches negotiating strategies to overcome wage discrimination

August 4, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Women's Bar and its new Young Lawyers Committee hosted its first event of the year on Wednesday on how to overcome wage discrimination. Pictured from left: Hon. Genine Edwards, President Michele Mirman, Florina Altshiler and Natoya L. McGhie. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association (BWBA) hosted a seminar titled “Get the Money You Deserve for the Job You Do — Negotiation Strategies for Women” that taught female attorneys tactics to overcome wage discrimination, at Abrams Fensterman in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Florina Altshiler, managing attorney at Russo & Toner LLP, led the seminar. Altshiler is a litigation attorney who graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and St. John’s University before she moved to Alaska and then to Buffalo to practice law.

“She presented this program at our state chapter convention at one of our sister chapters and it was so well received that we invited her to Brooklyn to have her share that program with us,” said Natoya McGhie, co-chair of BWBA’s Young Lawyers Committee.

In the U.S., women earn 83 percent of what men make, according to the Pew Research Center and that extends into the legal profession.

Altshiler explained that women in the legal profession are doing slightly better than average, but at 89.7 percent of what men make with similar jobs with the same level of experience there still is progress to be made. She also pointed out that women are much less likely to be made law partners than men and explained that women represent just 36 percent of the profession despite representing nearly 50 percent of law school graduates.

“In 2015 [the latest year data was available], that means weekly a female attorney is earning about $1,700 while her male counterpart is earning $1,900,” Altshiler said. “So every week you lose about $200 because you are female.

“What I’m here addressing is what I see as the barriers and steps around those barriers based on business research, psychology research and based on statistics from the law,” said Altshiler.  “I’m not here to tell you how to be a successful equity partner because I’m not in those shoes myself, but I can tell you objectively what the findings show and what the barriers are.”

The event was the first one under new BWBA President Michele Mirman and sponsored by its newest committee — the BWBA Young Lawyers Committee — which is co-chaired by McGhie and Justice Genine Edwards. The group currently consists of 10 members and they are looking to recruit more inexperienced attorneys to the BWBA.

“We just started this committee this summer,” McGhie said. “We had our first meeting in July. Right now, we’re just trying to get the word out and attract new members. We’re hoping to host events similar to this one as well as social events. We’re planning a wine and oil tasting event for the fall, and we’re setting up a mentoring program with private attorneys.”

The BWBA will celebrate its 100th year in 2018 and Mirman explained that the group is planning a big centennial celebration. Mirman is also planning a walking tour of Coney Island, and tours of the Brooklyn Museum and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where she is a trustee.

The next BWBA event will be a continuation of its “Lunch with a Judge” series with Justice Lawrence Knipel, the administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, at 1 p.m. at 360 Adams St.

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