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 like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

        2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

        3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

        4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

        5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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