A&O weighs up target of 20 per cent female partners by 2020

The magic circle lags behind its peers when it comes to gender diversity at the top, so it’s good to see Allen & Overy attempting to shake off its masculine image with an eye to increasing its female partnership numbers.

But there are conflicting views when it comes to quotas, one of the main points of discussion among the firm’s HR bods. Global HR director Genevieve Tennant is expected to make a decision on a 20 per cent female partnership target by 2020 this week, a topic that has been on the cards for a number of months.

If it goes ahead, the firm will race past its magic circle rivals in terms of gender diversity – at the 2012/13 year end the firm was home to 80 female partners, compared to just 53 at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (which considered a similar move in 2012).

But it’s not just the magic circle firms that struggle when it comes to gender diversity. Research from The Lawyer’s UK 200 report reveals that women made up just 18.6 per cent of all partners and 15.3 per cent of all equity partners in 2013. Meanwhile US firms in London continue to be dominated by men, with women representing just 17.6 per cent of UK partners across the top 30 international firms present in the City last year.

Whatever A&O decides, trying to have a more equal gender divide at the top can only be a good thing.

P.S. Meanwhile, sore heads at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co after the newly-merged firm scooped choir of the year at the inaugural Legal Harmony competition last night. Congratulations!

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