Women in the Law

Partner Push-Out: Nearly 8 Percent of Women Partners Were De-Equitized, Survey Finds

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A new survey of women partners at regional and international law firms finds that it’s difficult to be directly promoted into equity partnership and hard to hang on to it.

The “overwhelming majority” of partners who responded to the survey said they achieved equity partnerships through lateral moves from other law firms, rather than by direct promotion, according to Veta Richardson, executive director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Richardson reported on the survey results at a regional summit for in-house counsel covered by the Legal Intelligencer.

The survey of nearly 700 women partners also found that 7.9 percent of the respondents had been de-equitized, the Intelligencer story says. Asked why they lost their equity partnerships, the women cited a desire by their firms to increase profits per equity partner, their own problems generating revenue from client origination and cross-selling, and low billable hours.

Fifty-five percent of the women partners said they were occasionally or frequently denied their “fair share” of origination credit, the article reports. Yet two-thirds said they were uncomfortable appealing compensation decisions, and 30 percent said expressing disagreement brought intimidation, threats and bullying.

The study, “Survey of Women Partners on Law Firm Compensation,” was jointly sponsored by Richardson’s group along with the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Project for Attorney Retention at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. The ABA women’s commission was the sponsor of the in-house counsel regional summit.

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