Firms have room to grow in having women in top roles

June 15, 2011
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The National Law Journal recently reported on a new certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum available for law firms that have integrated women in top leadership positions and highly compensated them. WILEF, formed by communications company RR Donnelley and Tursi Law Marketing Management, wants to educate women in the law on how to be leaders in the workplace and community. They created this new certification to bestow on law firms that meet three of the six following criteria:

-    At least 20 percent of equity partners are women
-    At least 10 percent of firm chairs and office managing partners are women
-    Women make up at least 20 percent of the firm’s primary governance committee
-    Women make up 20 percent or more of the firm’s compensation committee
-    At least 25 percent of practice group leaders or department heads are women
-    Women make up at least 10 percent of the top half of the most highly compensated partners

What’s news to me isn’t the creation of this certification. Groups constantly create certifications and awards to give firms. What’s news is that of the 300 firms with more than 100 attorneys that applied for this certification, only 32 met the criteria.

It’s a point that has been brought up before in this blog, but if women make up half the lawyering population, why aren’t there more women in leadership? Are the business models or structures of firms more beneficial toward men than women? It would seem that way based on the lack of female practice group leaders and managing partners. Most importantly, what can be done to increase the number of women in these leadership roles?

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