Promotions kick off with rise in female partners

The year’s partnership promotions round is shaping up to be the best ever for female lawyers.

Of the first 10 firms to announce their promotions, 27.5 per cent of them are female, the first time it has tipped over the 25 per cent mark.

Macfarlanes is the only firm so far that has not made up a single female associate. The City firm promoted five male associates to the partnership, but this is the second year in a row that it has failed to promote a woman. In 2005-06 half of its four new partners were female.

Corporate partner Ian Martin said: “Macfarlanes promotes based on criteria which includes merit and years of experience.”

At Olswang, which has 77 partners against Macfarlanes’ 69, four of the firm’s 10 new partners are female.

Managing partner David Stewart said that promoting women was not a particular firm strategy. “The majority of entrants into the legal profession are women,” he added. “Firms have a responsibility to make sure this continues and these careers are nurtured.”

At Herbert Smith a third of its new partners – six of 18 – are women.

This is a huge turnaround on last year, when just one of the firm’s 10 new partners was female, while in the two years before that female promotions counted for barely more than a fifth.

Herbert Smith senior partner David Gold commented: “We try to run the place as a true meritocracy and I’m delighted that a lot of really talented ladies are coming through.”

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer included five women among its 25 new partners.

Bristol’s Burges Salmon included two women among its six new partners, while both of Forsters new partners are female.