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Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM) has the highest proportion of female partners among the top 50 UK firms by turnover, with 35 per cent of its partnership made up of women.
According to research carried out by The Lawyer the firm had a total of 110 partners during the 2008-09. Of those, 39 were female.
Senior partner Terry Renouf said that this was partly as a result of the firm’s focus on defendant insurance work, which allows for greater flexibility in time management.
“We don’t do transactions, we don’t do M&A,” he said. “The bigger cases are very much about project management, it’s bringing together expert witnesses and barristers and there’s probably a greater degree of control over the work we do [than at some firms].”
Several of the firm’s senior managers are women, including London head of professional indemnity Charlotte Capstick, who also sits on the remuneration committee.
The availability of part-time working arrangements is often seen as critical in improving female retention and promotion rates. BLM has offered the option of part-time working to all of its partners - including its 54 equity partners - for several years.
This comes as Allen & Overy (A&O) has become the latest firm to offer part-time working arrangements to all of its partners in an attempt to improve female retention rates (21 January 2010).
Some 15 per cent of the firm’s partners were women last year, ranking it 38th in the top 50 by number of female partners.
Geoff Fuller, an A&O capital markets partner who chaired a steering committee at the firm charged with putting together a proposal on part-time working, said it was “very clear that there was overwhelming support for some form of part-time working” among the partnership.
However, not all firms with part-time working arrangements already in place scored highly. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where an estimated 1.5 per cent of the partnership works part-time, came in at 45th. Twelve per cent of all partners at the firm were women.
Among the top 50 firms by revenue Ince & Co had the smallest proportion of female partners. Nine of the firm’s 85 partners were women, the equivalent of 11 per cent, while 12 per cent of equity partner were women.