UK’s top firms fail to increase female equity partner figures

  • Print
  • Comments (26)

Readers' comments (26)

  • The problem is that most women don't want the kind of life that is expected of traditionally male roles within the big firms. 12 hour days, backstabbing, being over protective with clients.... Why would we? Most of us have a life outside of work - kids, friends, tennis, even hair and nails.n Until the culture within changes most of us will not be interested.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The point is Vicky (4:11pm) exercising your choice (and it is a choice) to have children and to take time off to care for your children (and, again, it is a choice) affects your performance at work and there are consequences to your choice: it is likely to have an impact on your career. This isn’t an issue of fairness (if life isn't fair, careers are far less so), it is an issue of performance at work (and ultimately how much profit you generate for your firm). My mother (not a lawyer, but a business woman) worked up until the day before she gave birth to me and was back at work two days later (she took even less time off when she delivered my sister three years later), her career was stellar and she made more money than the above-average magic circle equity partner, her parenting (to her regret now) was not stellar (far from it): her choice, not right or wrong, but with consequences.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Even with the issue of maternity leave/childcare for women taken out, the playing field is not level, especially in any of the Top 100 firms. It's simply churlish to suggest otherwise. These firms are, almost exclusively, headed up by middle-aged, conservative, English white guys. They promote those they feel comfortable and identify with, namely more English white guys, and so the cycle continues. Just last week my extremely competent female lawyer Senior Associate friend submitted a flexible working request at her UK Top 40 firm in Liverpool (clue - shipping). She wanted to move to a 4-day week and reduce her salary & benefits accordingly. She still intended to work as hard and bill as much, pro-rata, as any of her male colleagues working a 5-day week. The Partner replied "You could really go places at this firm. Before giving all that up I want you to go away and re-think your decision very carefully. Don't do it". With people like him running the show in 90% of the Top 100 firns women will never get a fair deal, regardless of ability and contribution.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • MéFéin, no, not churlish (BTW: labeling a position as “churlish” suggests the counter-position has less substance (“churlish” is one of those words that should only ever be used when it categorically applies), as does resorting to sexist/ racist/ ageist stereotyping (on that matter, things are a little more complicated than you claim)), but there is a simplicity about the issue: careers at law firms involve career physics, cause and effect, you get out what you contribute. If an individual chooses (for whatever reason) to reduce their time commitment to their career and to reduce their availability to their employer, then (notwithstanding their abilities) they are likely to reduce the likelihood of progressing past assistant level (assistant/ associate = tomayto/ tomaarto (associate/ senior associate + freshly picked tomato/ not so freshly picked tomato)). My advice is start your own firm, if you’re good you’ll do well without having to meet the commitment requirements that are inevitable (and in my view, undesirable and insensitive to value added and client benefit gained) in law firms.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So much truth in so many of these postings.
    I think women (particulary those with children) do make a choice between work and family at Senior Associate level because they know that to fight for partnership will mean putting their family second (in a situation where it is probably already a juggling act) and sacrificing a lot (some would say the wellbeing of the family) for an uncertain outcome. I don't think its the wrong choice. Being able to be a mother who is active in her children's lives and also getting the benefits of a challenging and well-paid career as a senior associate or legal director at a top law firm is hardly failing in any way.
    Yes it would be nice for firms to recognise that a woman who fits that description might be of a benefit to the partnership and for the particular skillset of a multi-tasking female lawyer to be valued more highly in the firm but in this day and age it is unlikely to seem fair to other partners to give the same financial rewards to someone who is not prepared to jump on a plane at a moment's notice and who is cooking dinner at home at 6.30pm on most evenings.
    Personally I think the answer is for firms to give more value and esteem to the alternative career paths that so many of them have devised, only to dismiss such roles in practice (as I recently discovered when I dared to suggest a non-partner director role would be the best path for me).
    But as choices go, to me (a very competent SA with 2 kids, working FT, doing a lot of client relationship as well as technical work) its a no brainer. The kids will win every time - I make plenty of sacrifices and work very hard but until I decide I want to be partner my soul is still allowed to belong to my family first and foremost. if it didnt then I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror in 10-20 years time.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The problem is not linked to flexible working or childcare issues (it is rather patronising to indicate that professional women are incapable of balancing childcare arrangements with their work life) but is almost entirely linked to the 'boys' club' culture that exists in most of the larger, unprogressive firms.

    I worked for a leading North East firm (contradiction in terms?) in a largely male team. Regardless of competence the men in that team were preferred over the women, not to mention the fact that ego-stroking of the team partners (entirely male by the way) was viewed more favourably that producing high quality work.

    Incidentally, in a redundancy consultation undertaken within that team the three individuals identified to be 'at risk' were all female. Coincidence?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (26)