Sunday, June 3, 2018

Very Modest Increase in Women Who Hold Equity Partnerships in Law Firms

Still Working on that Glass Ceiling

When I made partner in the mid-1990s, only sixteen percent of all partners in the U.S. were women.

A NAWL 2014 report shows little progress since then:

In its eighth year, the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL®) and The NAWL Foundation’s® annual Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms reveals not much has changed in its findings of compensation, leadership roles, rainmaking, and equity partnership at the nation’s largest 200 firms. The data this year revealed the same trend as in previous years: the greatest percentage of women (64 percent) occupy the lowest positions in firms (staff attorneys) and the highest positions in firms (equity partners) are occupied by the lowest percentage of women (17 percent). In comparison, the 2012 survey reported 15 percent equity partners were women and 70 percent staff attorneys were women.
“This year’s results reinforce that women in private practice continue to face barriers to reaching the highest positions in their firms – as equity partners and members of governance committees,” said Stephanie Scharf, report author, Past President of The NAWL Foundation, and Partner at Scharf Banks Marmor LLC. “It is troubling that women make up the large majority of staff attorneys – those lawyers in the lowest echelon of law firms – at the same time they make up a static minority (on average 17%) of equity partners in BigLaw.”

The 2017 report shows ongoing stagnation.
White women represent 88 percent of women equity partners and nearly 17 percent of equity partners overall. In the aggregate, women of color (including Black, Asian, Latina women) represent only 12 percent of women equity partners and about 2 percent of all equity partners . . . . There were some noticeable differences between the AmLaw Quartiles for representations of various diverse groups among equity partners. Women were 17 – 19 percent of all equity partners across the AmLaw 200. 
The new report has a table that makes a powerful statement about this lag in gender equality.

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