Only a quarter of all partners in the UK’s 200 largest firms are female, The Lawyer’s UK 200 data has revealed.
While the proportion of female partners across the UK 200 rose last year, it was only by a single percentage point. The majority of firms continue to have partnerships that are overwhelmingly male.
In total 25 per cent of all partners in this year’s report are female, an increase on 24 per cent in 2015/16 while 18 per cent of equity partners are female.
Among the worst-performing firms in terms of gender diversity are Holman Fenwick Willan, where just 19 (11 per cent) of its 164 partners are women; RPC, with just 13.6 per cent; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Simmons & Simmons (both of which have a 14 per cent female partnership); and Macfarlanes, where just 12.4 per cent of the partnership is female.
This year 13 firms in the UK 200 have partnerships that are more than 50 per cent female, compared to 10 in 2015/16. In the top 100, only 21 firms have equity partnerships that are more than 25 per cent female, compared with 24 in 2015/16.
The data also shows that most of the firms that have a proportionately large female partnerships tend to be relatively small in terms of total partners. Only two of the most gender diverse ten firms have more than 50 partners: MW Solicitors, where 45 of the firm’s 83 partners are women; and BLM, which has 101 female partners out of a total 192.
The top 30 firm with the most gender diverse partnership is Withers. Some 68 (41 per cent) of its 165 partners are women. Irwin Mitchell, whose 100 female partners account for 37 per cent of its total partnership, ranks second. Gowling WLG, whose 196 partners account for 34 per cent of its partnership, ranks third.