Last week The Lawyer reported on the findings of a survey carried out by Winmark Research and Inspirational Development Coaching on the proportion of female partners in the top 50 UK law firms. The survey revealed that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has the lowest number of female partners of any magic circle firm. Just 11.7 per cent of its partners are female, 2 per cent lower than Linklaters, the next worst performer. Meanwhile, Bird & Bird and Olswang both boast a partnership where more than 30 per cent are female.
Jane Mutimear, IP partner, Bird & Bird "Partnership in a City law firm is a demanding job which many women find difficult to juggle with the requirements of children. Certainly in Bird & Bird, there's no discrimination against women achieving partnership: each candidate is considered on their merits regardless of gender, and we're flexible in relation to working from home etc. In our Paris office, seven out of 11 partners are women - a ratio even more unusual in Paris than it is in London."
Lesley MacDonagh, managing partner, Lovells "The real reason for fallout of senior women en route to partnership is often because they're faced with more 'real life' challenges than males. With children, not only do they have to fit in the lead 'production' role, but often want - or have - to take the lead parental role. If they're married, there is the complication of accommodating two careers, and her plans may not sit well with her partner's. One or a combination of these pressures may mean that a female partnership candidate, however talented or committed, is just not able or willing to make it all spin. These additional factors facing many talented women are in large part something a firm can't influence."
Deborah Bangay, family barrister, 1 Mitre Court Buildings "It's very difficult for solicitors to make partner level if they have a family and children. However, this must be balanced with the fact that in these days of City firms trying to improve their female-to-male partner ratio, it's worrying that they have so few female partners."