Women in the Law
Why the No. 5 law firm in France is gender-balanced at the top levels
Posted May 29, 2014 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The French law firm TAJ is led by a man who takes gender balance seriously.
The law firm has a 50/50 gender balance in equity partnerships, governance committees and all other levels, according to an HBR Blog Network post by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of the gender consulting firm 20-first. TAJ is the No. 5 law firm in France.
Gianmarco Monsellato leads the law firm, and for many years he was the only person making case assignments to lawyers. He was involved in every discussion of promotions, he tracked compensation to ensure parity, and he put some of his best female lawyers on the toughest cases. If clients balked at staffing decisions, Monsellato called the client and asked for three months to allow the lawyer to prove herself.
“What I have done is promote people on performance,” Monsellato said. The “tone from the top” is key, he said.
According to the article, Monsellato’s approach is “dramatically [different] than most law firms. Most of his competitors have spent years organizing women’s initiatives, networks or mentoring programs that have done little to increase the percentage of women reaching the top.” At the 100 top law firms in the United States, only 17 percent of equity partners are women, the story says.