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. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

        2. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

        3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

        4. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

        5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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