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. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

        2. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

        3. Hello everyone I'm Gina and I'm here for the exact same thing you are. I have the wonderful joy of waking up every morning to my heart being pulled out and sheer terror of what DCS is going to Throw at me and my family today.Let me start from the !bebeginning.My daughter lost all rights to her 3beautiful children due to Severe mental issues she no longer lives in our state and has cut all ties.DCS led her to belive that once she done signed over her right the babies would be with their family. We have faught screamed begged and anything else we could possibly due I hired a lawyer five grand down the drain.You know all I want is my babies home.I've done everything they have even asked me to do.Now their saying I can't see my grandchildren cause I'M on a prescription for paipain.I have a very rare blood disease it causes cellulitis a form of blood poisoning to stay dormant in my tissues and nervous system it also causes a ,blood clotting disorder.even with the two blood thinners I'm on I still Continue to develop them them also.DCS knows about my illness and still they refuse to let me see my grandchildren. I Love and miss them so much Please can anyone help Us my grandchildren and I they should be worrying about what toy there going to play with but instead there worrying about if there ever coming home again.THANK YOU DCS FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE. ( And if anyone at all has any ideals or knows who can help. Please contact (765)960~5096.only serious callers

        4. He must be a Rethuglican, for if from the other side of the aisle such acts would be merely personal and thus not something that attaches to his professional life. AND ... gotta love this ... oh, and on top of talking dirty on the phone, he also, as an aside, guess we should mention, might be important, not sure, but .... "In addition to these allegations, Keaton was accused of failing to file an appeal after he collected advance payment from a client seeking to challenge a ruling that the client repay benefits because of unreported income." rimshot

        5. I am not a fan of some of the 8.4 discipline we have seen for private conduct-- but this was so egregious and abusive and had so many points of bad conduct relates to the law and the lawyer's status as a lawyer that it is clearly a proper and just disbarment. A truly despicable account of bad acts showing unfit character to practice law. I applaud the outcome.

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