Revealed: females make up less than 10 per cent of top 100's equity partner ranks

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  • Why the sob story all the time. If they want to make partners they should work and they ll get made up. There is no magic to it. This is not government job...any private sector job should be on merits and same sacrifices that everyone makes to get there.

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  • I agree with Eddy, setting target is not the best way to change the situation. However, sometimes having a specific target will help firms stay focused and get there faster. But the underlying same old difficulty really goes down to the personal and life style choice made by women when they have a family. If law firms' way of working and business driven nature don't change, the fundamental change won't happen.

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  • Given the average age of equity partners and the rigid (and long) locksteps most firms employ, it is hardly surprising that a high female intake hasn't filtered through yet. It simply reflects recruitment figures from the 70s.
    Rather than providing one-off 'shock value' figures it may be more helpful to gve a breakdown of how female/male ratios change with PQE and whether there is an upward trend in female partner appointments (which may let us forecast future equity figures).

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  • So what?

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  • Can anyone from Weightmans, Filed Fisher Waterhouse, Bond Pearce, BLP, Taylor Wessing and Mcfarlanes let us know how you have less than a whole number of female equity partners, I hope this is not dwarfism discrimination in practice.

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  • It's amazing to see even from the comments that men just dont get it - dear Harris, unfortunately it is not the same - if a man and a woman decide to have a child - this does not reflect in a negative way on the father's career at a law firm, but a woman has to take time off, is not able to work at her best for 9 months before the birth (due to generally feeling extremely tired and sick) and for some time when she is back, especially if she is back only after a few months. This multiplies if you have two children - again no impact on the father's career but the woman out of say 4 years at a law firm, would have only worked less than a year when she was not either pregnant or on the maternity leave, so when the law firm thinks considers those two for a partnership - guess whom they are going to chose?
    And Phil - 70s was 40 years ago - average lawyer is considered for a partnership after around 7-8 years - there was plenty of time to change the ratios...

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  • The real question is: why do we somewhat naively think that women would, or should, be 50% of all equity partners in what is a remorseless profession that destroys home life, turns relationships sour, makes parents total strangers to their children and warps even initially balanced people into workaholic maniacs?
    Thank God that at least part of the population has more sense that to want to become an equity partner at a City law firm.

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  • Male Chauvinists

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  • If women has a strong interest in equity partnerships, they will get them in the existing firms or go out and risk starting up new, female oriented ones. That shall either make the existing top firms change to keep the best with them, or the new firms will be challenging for top ranking with the best among their ranks. In either case the current top firms will adapt to continue to hold their valued position, not to demean women, or keep control in the hands of men or anything of the sort.

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  • Brecher statistics :
    15 partners -7 women
    4 EP's -2 women.
    It would be interesting to see the statisitics for those (few) firms where the managing partner is female.

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  • What would be really interesting would be an analysis of how many female associates at the firms wanted to become partner there, and the reasons why that didn't happen, rather than just bare stats.
    It's not that surprising that women who have made it to equity partnership don't think quotas are needed, because they obviously didn't need them.
    The resentment a quota system would cause probably means it's not worth it, even if well intentioned - it's not as if all male lawyers just walk into partnership.
    Still, the firms in the table should ask themselves whether there is something inherently sexist about the way they are promoting - figures such as 0 female partners out of 69 are fairly surprising.

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  • The women who are EPs bring in work and contribute financially to the firm other than billing on other partner's client's files. That's why they are EPs as the firm can't afford to lose the work they bring in and so rewards them accordingly.
    The vast majority of female associates and FSPs I have worked with bring in very little work. They may bill well and be excellent lawyers, but that's only half the battle. Unless they put the partnership in a position where they cannot afford to lose them because of the work they bring in, they won't make EP. Firms don't just give up equity points to good fee earners as the partnership would become diluted.

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  • Why are there decimal points on the number of partners?

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  • Seems like the consensus is that the central problem is clients are not giving enough work directly to female partners to make them sufficiently valuable to a law firm to then make into equity partners.
    I.e. client relationships are not going to be lost if they don't promote women to the equity. After all, law firm partners are greedy b*ggers and if having more women made the men more money they would do it in an instant. Frankly they would cut their left legs off it made them more money.
    Maybe the real problem is with the clients? Maybe the male GCs don't bond well with the women, so no client loyalty, hence no equity partnership. QED....?

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  • The decimals represent full-time equivalent ie there are some part-time partners

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  • Catherine - If an associate has 2-3 years less experience than another associate then it is hardly fair to disregard that discrepancy when making partnership appointments. While firms should do everything they can to support women who take time out (e.g. by keeping them involved in firm activities, good maternity packages etc) when it comes to making appointments, anything other than a strictly meritocratic approach would undermine the firm's business and create a hostile, resentful working environment.
    Your sexist generalisation is also unhelpful. I imagine many women who put their careers first and delay having children would be just as opposed to anything other than a meritocratic partner selection process.

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  • There seems to be a pretty fundamental flaw in the maths here - the percentage proportion shown is the number of female equity partners compared to the total number of partners (equity and non-equity), not the total number of equity partners. Unless any of the firms listed are 100% equity partnerships (which I doubt), the percentages given are meaningless. Either show the proportion of all partners who are female or the proportion of equity partners who are female - don't mix the two.

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  • @Anonymous | 25-Oct-2012 11:22 am
    Good point, the percentages don't work.
    Would guess therefore they are far, far smaller than ones given here for female EPs, if relative to all EPs at the firm.

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  • Anon @11:17
    You seem to assume that PQE alone forms the basis for a meritocratic approach and that the woman with 2-3 years less experience in real terms is, by virtue of that alone, less worthy of partnership than her male peer who has had that 2-3 years on the job experience. That is hardly a meritocratic approach.
    In my experience very average male associates are made partner purely as a result of time spent, whereas a female associate needs to be exceptional.

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  • As a female junior equity partner I have to say that having children is not the main reason it is difficult to progress. I don't have any children and am just as committed to the long hours and the BD as my male colleagues (if not more so).
    However despite having fantasic relationships with my existing clients, I struggle to get acquire new clients because, quite simply, it's still a man's world out there at boardroom level. Most decision makers in clients are men - and they simply feel more comfortbale building their network with their men. As do the men in the partnership.
    The Boys Club is still alive and thriving. I don't blame the men - I think both genders find it easier to build trust with their own gender to a certain extent. But it does mean that even women who choose to play by the law firm rules are not playing on a level field. Add to that the different behavious between genders and you find that partnerships made up mostly men reward male behaviours.

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