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. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

        2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

        3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

        4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

        5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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