Women in the Law

NLJ Survey: Slow Progress for Women Partners in BigLaw


An examination of partnership data from more than 200 large law firms shows that women make up about 15 percent of the equity partner rolls.

If equity and nonequity partners are lumped together, the percentage rises to 18.8 percent, according to the National Law Journal. Using data compiled from its annual NLJ 250 Survey, the NLJ reported its findings this week in a package of stories titled “The Equity Gap: A Special Report on Women in Partnership.”

The percentage of women in partnership shows slow-but-steady progress since 2003 when the American Lawyer, an NLJ affiliate, collected similar data. Back then, the female equity and nonequity partner makeup was at 16 percent.

Only five firms reported that women accounted for more than 25 percent of equity partner ranks:

• Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy (42 percent)

• Jackson Kelly (28.4 percent)

• Ice Miller (26.9 percent)

• Best Best & Krieger (26.7 percent)

• Ford & Harrison (26.1 percent)

In conclusions about its findings, the NLJ notes that, “Partnership structure and practice focus have some bearing on why some firms are making progress while others seem to be lagging behind.” But the legal publication cited another common element at firms with higher percentages of women in partnership: a culture of inclusion.

“Women felt accepted here,” Ice Miller partner Brenda Horn is quoted saying. “We were always less conventional [than other firms in Indiana]. Your pedigree and who you played football with didn’t matter here.”

Also see:

NLJ (chart): “Firms Ranked by Women Equity Partners: Who has the most women in the equity partnership? We rank more than 200 firms.”

American Lawyer (chart): “Women Partner Watch: A firm-by-firm look at the percentage of women elected partner at Am Law 100 and 200 firms in this year’s round of promotions”

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