Female partners defy glass ceiling in record numbers

Twenty per cent of partners in top 100 now female; smaller firms outstrip magic circle

Female partners defy glass ceiling in record numbersMore women are breaking into the top ranks of the UK’s leading law firms than ever before, research for The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report reveals.

The findings are in ­contrast to a report from the ­Equality and Human Rights ­Commission, which last week found that the number of women occupying senior positions in business had fallen.

There are still far fewer female lawyers than male, but ratios at UK firms are improving, with 19.6 per cent of partners in the top 100 firms now female. This is a slight increase on the ­previous two years, when the figure was around 19 per cent.

The total number of female equity partners has risen by nearly 4.5 per cent despite a fall in the overall number of equity partners in the top 100.

Nabarro managing ­partner Nicky Paradise (pictured), one of the few women to lead a top 100 firm, said: “As we all get better at flexible working arrangements and not expecting everybody to follow the same career path, the numbers will naturally improve.”

Pensions specialist Sacker & Partners scores highest on the equality scale, with women accounting for 47.8 per cent of the partnership. This compares with 5.9 per cent at the worst performer, Anglo-Scottish private equity boutique Dickson Minto.

Next from bottom is ­Scotland’s Burness, where women account for just 10 per cent of the partnership. Firm chairman Philip ­Rodney pointed out that four female partners had been added since the ­statistics were compiled, adding: “Undoubtedly this is something we have to take account of for the future. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Magic circle firms proved to be less inclusive than their smaller counterparts. Just over 14 per cent of partners in the top four are female, compared with more than 20 per cent in the rest of the top 100.

Trowers & Hamlins head of corporate Jennie Gubbins said she was not surprised by that fact, adding: “I go to lots of meetings at lots of firms and I’m completely inured to being the only woman in the room.”

The latest research provides a stark contrast with early surveys conducted by The Lawyer. In 1992, 9.6 per cent of partners in the UK’s 10 largest firms were women, but that figure has risen by over 50 per cent to 15.9 per cent this year.

Firm Female partners
Total partners
Percentage of female partners
Sacker & partners 11
23
47.8
Forsters 13
29
44.8
Pannone 46
110
41.8
Berrymans 42
117
35.9
Russell Cooke 14
41
34.1
Beachcroft 42
133
31.6
Shoosmiths 32
104
30.8
Irwin Mitchell 31
101
30.7
Maclay Murray & Spens 22
72
30.6
Weightmans 30
99
30.3
DMH Stallard 15
50
30.0
Lewis Silkin 13
44
29.5
Bevan Brittan 18
62
29.0
Thomas Eggar 19
66
28.8
Manches 16
56
28.6
Fladgate Fielder 11
39
28.2
Withers 30
108
27.8
Charles Russell 25
90
27.8
DWF 32
118
27.1
Morgan Cole 13
50
26.0
Shepherd & Wed 18
70
25.7
Russell Jones & Walker 11
43
25.6
Penningtons 13
51
25.5
Browne Jacobson 16
63
25.4
Reynolds Porter 16
63
25.4
Kennedys 24
95
25.3
Wedlake Bell 10
40
25.0
Geldards 12
49
24.5
Halliwells 37
154
24.0
Mischon De Reya 13
55
23.6
Dundas & Wilson 19
82
23.2
Hugh James 11
48
22.9
Blake Lapthorn 26
114
22.8
Nabarro 28
123
22.8
Trowers & Hamlins 24
106
22.6
DWS 40
177
22.6
Farrer & Co 14
62
22.6
Pinsent Masons 60
266
22.6
Howard Kennedy 15
67
22.4
Eversheds 77
344
22.4
Clarke Willmott 19
85
22.4
Bird & Bird 34
157
21.7
Thring Townsend 12
56
21.4
Olswang 19
89
21.3
Hill Dickinson 33
155
21.3
Watson Burton 8
38
21.1
Bond Pearce 14
67
20.9
Martineau 10
48
20.8
Ashfords 12
58
20.7
Ward Hadaway 11
54
20.4
HBJ 17
84
20.2
BLP 35
175
20.0
McGrigors 15
77
19.5
Freeth Cartwright 13
67
19.4
Cobbetts 18
93
19.4
Addleshaw 34
177
19.2
Salans 33
174
19.0
Slaughters 25
132
18.9
LG 16
86
18.6
SJ Berwin 31
167
18.6
Lovells 62
341
18.2
Finers Stephens Innocent 6
33
18.2
Hammonds 33
182
18.1
CMS 24
133
18.0
Norton Rose 44
246
17.9
Walker Morris 9
51
17.6
Anderson Strathern 8
46
17.4
Brodies 9
52
17.3
Mills & Reeve 14
82
17.1
Wragge & Co 19
113
16.8
Macfarlanes 12
72
16.7
TLT 12
72
16.7
Turcan Connell 3
18
16.7
FFW 19
115
16.5
Osborne Clarke 18
112
16.1
Ashurst 31
197
15.7
Brabners Chaffe 9
58
15.5
Clifford Chance 95
613
15.5
Stephenson Harwood 13
84
15.5
Gordons 6
39
15.4
Allen & Overy 71
474
15.0
Dickinson Dees 12
81
14.8
Links 77
528
14.6
Davies Arnold Cooper 10
70
14.3
Simmons 32
226
14.2
BLG 11
78
14.1
WFW 9
66
13.6
Herbert Smith 31
229
13.5
Speechly Bircham 8
62
12.9
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 53
422
12.6
Travers Smith 8
64
12.5
Burges Salmon 8
65
12.3
Taylor Wessing 32
267
12.0
Clydes 17
142
12.0
Bircham Dyson 6
51
11.8
Howes Percival 4
35
11.4
Holman Fenwick Willan 12
106
11.3
Ince & Co 9
82
11.0
Burness 4
40
10.0
Dickson Minto 1
17
5.9
TOTALS 2224.0
11387.0
19.4 (average)