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

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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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