Women in the Law

Female lawyers still underrepresented, especially in partnership ranks; which law firms do best?

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About 23% of equity partners in U.S. law firms are women, even though women have made up at least 40% of U.S. law students for decades, according to a Glass Ceiling Report by Law360.

Currently, women make up more than half of U.S. law students, but law firms aren’t retaining them, Law360 reports in an article on the findings.

“Despite a packed pipeline of talent, women have long been underrepresented, and their numbers shrink dramatically at the uppermost tier of a law firm, dropping to less than a quarter of partners with a significant financial stake,” the article said.

Above the Law also has coverage.

Over the last six years, the proportion of female attorneys has increased from 34% to 37.7% at U.S. law firms, from 29.4% to 33% among nonequity partners, and from 19.2% to 23.3% among equity partners, according to Law360.

Minority female lawyers are also underrepresented. At U.S. law schools, women of color make up 20% of first-year law students. But they make up only 9% of all attorneys at U.S. law firms and about 3% of equity partners.

The Glass Ceiling Report collected information from more than 270 law firms on female representation at the end of 2020. Law360 collected data from U.S.-based law firms with at least 20 attorneys and from verein law firms with at least 50 attorneys in the United States.

More than 75% of the top 200 U.S. law firms by head count participated in the survey.

Law360 created a “Ceiling Smashers” list of law firms that are setting the pace in the legal industry to close the gender gap at the top.

Among law firms with more than 600 attorneys, the firms with the highest representation of female lawyers in equity partnerships are:

  1. Morrison & Foerster (32.3%)

  2. Jackson Lewis (31.9%)

  3. Ropes & Gray (31.1%)

  4. Littler Mendelson (30.6%)

  5. Jones Day (30%)

Among law firms with 251 to 600 attorneys, the law firms with the highest representation of female lawyers in equity partnerships are:

  1. Fragomen (50%)

  2. Marshall Dennehey (33.2%)

  3. Day Pitney (31.8%)

  4. Kutak Rock (31.2%)

  5. Fredrikson & Byron (31.1%)

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