Number of female equity partners continues to be low

February 27, 2014
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The greatest percentage of women occupy the lowest positions in law firms, and the highest positions in firms are occupied by the lowest percentage of women, according to data released by the National Association of Women Lawyers after surveying the top 200 largest law firms in the U.S.

Respondents to the eighth annual NAWL Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms reported that women make up 64 percent of staff attorneys at the firms; 17 percent of equity partners are women. These numbers aren’t far off last year’s results or from the results of the 2006 survey – the first year the survey was completed.

NAWL began the survey as one of several initiatives of the 2015 NAWL Challenge, issued in July 2006, which calls for large firms to double the number of female equity partners and for corporations to double the number of female chief legal officers by 2015. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen unless law firms make some drastic moves this year.

NAWL sent out the survey last year to the 200 largest firms as reported by The American Lawyer, with 92 firms responding. Fifty of those are in the AmLaw100 and 42 are in the second hundred. The survey focuses on the largest law firms because it is an easily defined sample.

Here are some highlights from the 2013 survey:

•    Lateral hiring at the level of equity partner favors men: about 50 percent of new female equity partners are recruited laterally as compared to nearly 66 percent of all new male partners.

•    Lack of business development was identified by firms (44 percent) as the greatest obstacle to why the number of female equity partners is not increasing; attrition was identified by 31 percent of firms.

•    Firms that have two or more women on the law firm governing and compensation committees have a smaller pay disparity among male and female equity partners. Female equity partners at these firms earn 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn; at the firms that don’t have this female representation on these committees, women equity partners earn 85 percent of what male counterparts earn.

•    Thirty-three firms declined to participate in the 2013 survey even though they previously participated. NAWL posits this could be because firms are more leanly staffed with each passing year and don’t have the time to participate in studies about law firm performance. The organization also says that those firms that declined to participate in the 2013 survey are generally less interested in the subject of advancing women lawyers or are hesitant to share statistics that show that their female attorneys lag behind their male counterparts.

The 2013 survey and previous surveys are available on NAWL’s website.
 

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  • Time for drastic measures
    THIS IS DEPLORABLE. It has gone on far too long, and so now is the time for drastic measures intended to address this horrid injustice once and for all. Let us establish a lottery in which all male attorneys with supervisory responsibility must enroll. Once a year we will choose 13 of them to fight to the death on pay per view, in their briefs only, armed with Brooks Bros pens. This great spectacle should not only entertain, but also create the market incentives necessary to propel females into supervisory leadership, with true managerial power finally within their grasp. Oh, and the winner of the Lawyer Games each year will be forced to make coffee in low cut blouses for the year after his manly victory.
  • Open minded
    I am open to less drastic measures, if anyone has any suggestions.
  • Equity Release Comparison
    For the past eight years, the National Association of Women Lawyers has tracked women’s progress at the many firms in the nation by comparing their careers.
    • So what is the solution
      BUt you have not answered the dilemna. Given that even President Obama (peace be upon him) underpays the females on his staff as compared to the males, what is the solution?
      • so no solution
        Or just no solution that can openly discussed?
      • big law lottery
        Prez Snow, As big law squeezes out middle and small firms, and solos increasingly sink, the winners of the big-law-firm-partner-game will become more and more deplored by other lawyers. Why should women be so quick to sign up for the inhuman misery and sacrifices that these people make for the firms, to gain these coveted positions? Profit it a woman to gain a kingdom, and yet lose her soul?
        • Power!
          For power my dear Smith, for power: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spHEw2n9LwE
        • What?
          The ONE seems to be waging an economic war against women, keeping them in the last seats on the pay parity bus. Oh the Humanity! What is the colour of rampant hypocrisy? http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/09/white-house-pay-gap-twice-as-large-as-pay-gap-in-district-of-columbia/

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        1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

        2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

        3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

        4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

        5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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