Studies showing that women are fighting tooth and nail to get equality in the workforce is not new. And in the legal profession, the gender gap continues to persist. Despite the strides taken by law firms to increase the number of women lawyers in leadership positions, only a dismal 18.8 percent become partners in the nation’s biggest firms. The figure is even smaller for female equity partners or those who have a share in the firm’s profits. The percentage of female partners in equity partnerships is even smaller at only 15.1 percent.
The numbers are extracted from the recently released Women in the Partnership report of The National Law Journal. A total of 221 American law firms were included in the survey. The survey showed that while the percentage of women equity partners never crossed the 50 percent mark, Fragomen came close: 42 percent of its equity partners are female. At the bottom of the list is Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle which does not have a single woman partner.
In the sixth annual Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms conducted by the National Association of Women Lawyers and released in November 2011, the results supported the findings of The National Law Journal. Not only did the survey find that the ranks of women lawyers who are associates and non-equity partners have thinned since 2006, they have also found that the representation of women in leadership positions has been abysmal: “The majority of large firms have, at most, two women members on their highest governing committee.” They also found that two-tier or mixed-tier partnership structures contribute to having fewer women partners.
Catalyst, another organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women and business, also shared similar results. In their Women in Law in the U.S. report released in July 2012, they found that female lawyers were always in the minority when it comes to representation in influential committees at law firms. The disparity is also obvious in both federal and state judgeships where only 23 percent and 27% were held by women, respectively.
Law firms who have few women equity partners should learn a lesson from those who have included more women in the top ranks of leadership. Vivia Chen, analyzing the results of the survey conducted by The National Law Journal, found that the more women equity partners there are in a firm, the higher its profits are: “Women are gaining ground at firms with high profits. Of 18 firms with profits
per partner exceeding $2 million, 11 have equity partnerships that include more than 15 percent women. Three in that group have more than 20 percent: Paul Weiss ($3.095 million); Willkie Farr ($2.145 million); and Davis Polk ($2.3 million).”
Category: Career Girl