Women fall behind in partnership

Law firms failure to address the gender divide at partnership level has been confirmed in research by The Lawyer, which reveals that fewer female lawyers have been elevated in this years round of promotions compared with the previous year.

Of the 10 leading law firms that have announced new partners for 2004, just 27 out of a total of 170 new partners, or 15.8 per cent, were women. In the previous year, 37 out of 174 new partners, or 21.2 per cent, were women.

Allen & Overy in particular has showed a severe decline in new female partners. In 2003, 27.5 per cent of the 29 new partners were women. This year, the figure has fallen to 4.7 per cent just one of the 21 new partners.

The number of new female partners has also fallen dramatically at Lovells, from five of a total of 17 in 2003 to just one from 15 this time round. This is a surprise given that research by The Lawyer in 2003 showed the firm boasted an impressive number of female partners 20 per cent of the equity partnership and 43 per cent of the firms salaried partners were female.

For the second year running, Slaughter and May failed to make up any new female partners. Capital markets partner and practice partner David Frank says: It doesnt mean there arent more women coming through. We make up people on merit. I dont think we do too badly in the women stakes.

Of Slaughters 129 partners, 20 15.5 per cent are women. In contrast, Linklaters stood out after revealing a large increase in female partners, rising from 15.7 per cent of 19 new partners in 2003 to 22.5 per cent of 31 this year.

New female partners as percentage of total appointments

Firm 2004 (%) 2003 (%)
Allen & Overy 4.7 27.5
Clifford Chance 22.2 25.8
DLA 11.1 21.4
Eversheds 22.7 27
Freshfields 18.7 13
Herbert Smith 7.6 0
Linklaters 22.5 15.7
Lovells 6.6 29.4
Slaughter and May 0 0
Norton Rose 25 22.2

Source: The Lawyer