Women join 'gentlemans' club of MPs

TWO women joined one of the most exclusive clubs in Britain last week when they became managing partners of their firms.

Garrett & Co appointed its company/corporate law chief Julia Chain as managing

partner, in a move which splits the role from that of senior partner, a position retained by Colin Garrett.

Chain, who has four children, says: “I am the only managing partner in the City. There are very few women with families at the top of the profession. Firms could do more to accommodate them. The 1980s 'work till you drop' culture did not help. This is certainly not the attitude here – we want people who have a life!”

And partners at Teeman Levine, the Leeds commercial firm with 27 fee-earners, has appointed Sally Mewies to the top job.

Says Mewies: “I am certainly the only woman managing partner of a small commercial firm. There is a bias against women getting to the top of the legal profession, partly because of male domination and partly because of the drawbridge affect – when women do get to the top they tend to surround themselves with men and exclude other women.”

Mewies joined the firm after qualifying in 1988 and specialises in corporate/commercial and computer law. Former managing partner Peter Levine is now senior partner.

Nearly half of all fee-earners are women, but only 13 per cent of partners are female.

There are no women managing partners in the top 100 firms and few elsewhere.