Diversity fails to pay off at the top as US firms in London dominated by male partners

US firms in London continue to be dominated by men, with women representing just 17.6 per cent of UK partners across the top 30 international firms present in the City in 2013. 

The percentage shows a slight movement on the figure reported in 2012, when sources pointed to a male-dominated lateral hiring market as one of the areas blocking gender diversity (22 April 2013). 

In total, 63 per cent of the top 30 had five or fewer female partners during 2013, a year in which total partner headcount grew an estimated 8 per cent. There were no female partners working at the UK offices of Davis Polk & Wardwell and Simpson Thacher last year.

Elsewhere, Debevoise & Plimpton, applauded for its diversity in the US, had two female partners out of 19 in the UK during 2013, while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom recorded two female partners out of a UK total of 30.

The firm with the highest proportion of female partners in the UK was Bingham McCutchen, where eight of 21 partners in London are women. One of the firm’s highest-profile female litigation partners, Natasha Harrison, left to lead Boies Schiller & Flexner’s first non-US office at the end of last year (14 October 2013).

The figures show that US firms in London still have fewer female partners compared to their UK counterparts. Across The Lawyer’s top 200 UK firms, women made up 18.6 per cent of all partners in 2013 – around the same proportion as 2011/12, when they represented 18.7 per cent of all partners (5 August 2013).  

A number of US firms have introduced quotas in the last 12 months in a bid to get more women on their management boards. Baker & McKenzie, where women made up 22 per cent of its UK partnership in 2013, introduced a target of 30 per cent female equity partners last year (26 April 2013).

Female partners at US firms in London
Firm Female partners 2013 Total partners 2013 Female partners proportion (%)
Bingham McCutchen 8 21 38.1
Kirkland & Ellis  13 47 27.7
Ropes & Gray 6 24 25.0
Morgan Lewis 5 20 25.0
Squire Sanders 29 123 23.6
Mayer Brown 19 86 22.1
Baker & McKenzie 18 82 22.0
Reed Smith 22 106 20.8
Covington & Burling 4 22 18.2
WilmerHale  2 11 18.2
White & Case 12 68 17.6
Latham & Watkins 9 54 16.7
Shearman & Sterling 5 30 16.7
Paul Hastings 3 18 16.7
K&L Gates 8 50 16.0
Jones Day  9 58 15.5
Weil Gotshal  4 28 14.3
Dechert 5 37 13.5
Sidley Austin 5 41 12.2
Sullivan & Cromwell  2 17 11.8
Gibson Dunn  2 18 11.1
Debevoise & Plimpton  2 19 10.5
McDermott Will & Emery  2 21 9.5
Morrison & Foerster 1 14 7.1
Skadden  2 30 6.7
Edwards Wildman 2 30 6.7
Milbank 1 20 5.0
Cleary Gottlieb  1 21 4.8
Simpson Thacher  0 15 0.0
Davis Polk  0 9 0.0
Total 201 1140 17.6