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Law360 released its seventh annual Glass Ceiling Report, which surveyed 300 law firms on gender diversity and ranked firms based on the percentage of female equity partners in the United States. According to the report, women make up 40% of all attorneys and 25% of partners in law firms across the country. Firms with the highest levels of female equity partners tend to focus on building a clear pipeline to equity partnership for women and offer benefits like work schedule flexibility, mentorship programs and greater leadership opportunities in order to retain top-performing attorneys.

“The firms on this list are finding ways to expand the representation of women in their upper ranks. At many of the largest firms, more than 30% of equity partners are women. At some smaller firms, more than half of equity partners are women,” (as quoted in Law360). Among the 300 law firms surveyed, Jackson Lewis tops the list of the biggest firms with the most female representation this year, with 30.5% female equity partners. Immigration boutique Fragomen stands out among firms with 101 to 600 attorneys, with 51.0% female equity partners, the report notes.

In the biggest category of ‘Big Law’ firms (601+ attorneys), firms with the highest percentage of female equity partners were Jackson Lewis (30.5%), Littler Mendelson (30.4%), Morrison & Foerster (29.5%), Ropes & Gray (29.1%), Ballard Spahr (28.1%), and Jones Day (27.2%).

For medium to large sized firms (101-600 attorneys), the top five best firms for female partners were Fragomen (51.0%), Tyson & Mendes (50.0%), Berry Appleman (42.9%), Verrill Dana (39.6%), and Hanson Bridgett (38.8%).

Among the 300 law firms surveyed, small firms (20-100 attorneys) had the highest percentage of female equity partners, including Reichman Jorgensen (75.0%), Wright Finlay (66.7%), Walsworth (58.3%), Sideman & Bancroft (57.1%), and Wilson Turner (56.3%).

See the full article and rankings on Law360.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer reports that recent data released by Working Mother Media reveals that the legal industry is showing promising growth when it comes to gender equity among big law firms. Now in its 13th year, the annual Working Mother “Best Law Firms for Women” ranking highlights the top 60 law firms that define and implement best practices in recruiting, retaining, promoting and developing women lawyers. To compile the list, Working Mother assessed applications which included more than 300 questions about attorney demographics at different levels, schedule flexibility, policies for paid time off and parental leave, and development and retention of women lawyers.

Law firms selected for the list on average accounted for 23% of equity partners, up from 20% five years ago, the report notes. In addition, the number of female lawyers promoted to equity partner has increased by almost 25% over the past five years. When looking at other advancement statistics, multicultural women represent nearly 14% of the equity partnership, up from 11% five years ago. The number of multicultural, female associates also jumped to 33% from 27% in the same time period.

According to the report, all firms on the list offer women-specific mentoring programs and 50% of mentees are women. Two-third of the firms on the list have formal sponsorship with 62% of participants female, the report notes. Additionally, 36% provide gender-neutral fully paid parental leave in 2020, an increase from 35% in 2019; 36% provide gender-neutral paid parental leave with extra maternity leave, an increase from 24% in 2019; and 28% provide traditional maternity leave, an increase from 20% in 2019, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

Working Mother also pointed out that flexibility has increased in the legal industry. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, all firms on the list offered reduced hours and remote work opportunities, with 39% of female lawyers working remotely in some capacity in 2019. “Law firms on this year’s list were better prepared to respond to the effects of the pandemic because of their continued support of flextime and remote work for working parents and caregivers,” notes Subha Barry, president of Working Mother Media. “We are proud to recognize their resilience and steadfast commitment to supporting gender equality.”

See more highlights from the rankings on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

Law360 released results from its fifth annual Diversity Snapshot, which surveyed 300 law firms on their minority representation at the non-partner and partner level. According to Law360’s report, minorities make up 16.4% of all attorneys and 9.5% of partners in law firms across the country. Firms with the highest levels of minority attorneys offered benefits including formal mentorship programs, business marketing workshops, and integration into the firm’s community at large, the report revealed.

In the biggest category of ‘Big Law’ firms (600+ attorneys), Wilson Sonsini tops the list as the largest firm with the most minority lawyers this year, with 20.4% minority equity partners. Additional ‘Big Law’ firms with the highest percentage of minority attorneys included Morrison & Foerster (17.3%), Paul Hastings (13.8%), and Cleary Gottlieb (13.1%). For medium to large sized firms (300-599 attorneys), the top firms for minorities included Fragomen, Del Rey (23.5%), Fenwick & West (13.8%), and Shearman & Sterling (13.2%). For the smallest sized firms (150-299 attorneys), the best firms for minorities were Atkinson Andelson (32.1%), Best Best & Krieger (23.2%), and Munger Tolles (19.0%).

“The top firms in each size category have demonstrable diversity levels of at least 20% of all attorneys at the firm, creating examples of what a more diverse and more inclusive workforce can look like” Law360 notes. “It’s no secret that the legal industry is one of the least diverse professions in the country. But some law firms have made notable progress, and the firms listed are making some headway and turning longstanding diversity goals into workplace realities,” (as quoted in Law360).

See the full article and rankings on Law360.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

Law360 released its sixth annual Glass Ceiling Report, which surveyed 300 law firms on gender diversity and ranked firms based on the percentage of female equity partners in the United States. According to the report, women make up 36% of all attorneys and 25% of equity partners in law firms across the country. Firms with the highest levels of female equity partners tend to focus on building a clear pipeline to equity partnership for women and offer benefits like work schedule flexibility, mentorship programs and greater leadership opportunities in order to retain top-performing attorneys.

Among the 300 law firms surveyed, small firms (20-149 attorneys) had the highest percentage of female equity partners, including Sideman & Bancroft (63.6%), Culhane Meadows (60.0%), Brundo Testan (60.0%), Wilson Turner (55.6%) and Walsworth (50.0%).

For medium to large sized firms (150-599 attorneys), the top five best firms for female partners were Fragomen Del Rey (47.1%), Nossaman (42.9%), Hanson Bridgett (38.2%), Shipman & Goodwin (32.2%) and Best Best & Krieger (32.1%).

In the biggest category of ‘Big Law’ firms (600+ attorneys), Littler Mendelson tops the list of the biggest firms with the most female representation this year, with 29.6% female equity partners. Additional firms with the highest percentage of female equity partners include Jackson Lewis (28.3%), Faegre Baker Daniels (24.3%), Akerman (22.9%), and Ogletree Deakins (21.7%).

See highlights from the full article and rankings on Law360.

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The American Lawyer reports that according to recent data released by Vault and MCCA, minorities and female lawyers are making gains in overall representation at the nation’s largest firms. According to the Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey, female attorneys represented more than 46 percent of law firm associates and 23 percent of all partners, and for the first time in the 14 years of data collection, the percentage of women equity partners exceeded 20 percent.

Law firms also brought in more female partners as laterals than they have in the past: 28 percent of lateral partners hired in 2017 were women, compared to 24 percent in 2016. And even though women are better represented in the non-equity ranks, many of the new female partners are equity partners. Women represented 29 percent of all new equity partners in 2017, a figure higher than any previous year. The rising number of female partners can be attributed to increases in both lateral hiring and promotions, the report revealed.

Minority representation is growing at all levels, from associates to partners to those in positions of leadership, the survey notes. Since 2007, representation of minority lawyers among law firm partners has grown three percentage points, from 6 percent to 9 percent. Attorneys of color now represent 25 percent of associates and 13 percent of counsel. More than 9 percent of attorneys who serve on management or executive committees are minorities. These figures are all higher than those reported in previous years. Nevertheless, lawyers of color are still much less likely to be partners than white lawyers: 46 percent of white attorneys are partners, compared to 24 percent of minority attorneys, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

Additionally, the report found that law firms are recruiting more lawyers and law students of color, and women make up the majority of these new hires. Among new attorneys hired in 2017, 26 percent were people of color. Approximately 32 percent of the 2017 summer class were minorities, which is a percentage point higher than the year before and six points higher than 2007. Women also hold more leadership positions than they have in the past, serving in increasing numbers on law firm executive committees, as heads of office and practice leaders, the report notes. Almost 24 percent of management committee members are female, as are 24 percent of attorneys leading practice departments and 21 percent of U.S. office heads, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer reports that recent data released by ALM Intelligence shows female attorneys have ascended into Big Law’s partnership ranks at a faster pace than ever before in the wake of the #MeToo movement. According to the analysis, the pace of promotions for female lawyers since the #MeToo movement began has soared from 125 per month to 265 a month —or more than double the rate from the previous period.

Mary Leslie Smith, who became managing partner of Foley & Lardner’s Miami office earlier this year, notes that the movement has raised awareness. “What the Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo movement has done is raise awareness,” Smith said. “Firms began to look internally and ask, ‘Are we doing right by our women?’”

In addition, the article reports on several high-profile elevations of women in Big Law including Donna Wilson, named to become CEO and managing partner of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in July 2019; Julie Jones, who will become the first female chair of Ropes & Gray at the end of 2019; and Patricia Brown Holmes, who became managing partner of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila in April.

Debra Baker, a lawyer and managing director at GrowthPlay, concludes that “the most significant force now encouraging firms to promote women is an increased demand by clients for diversity. Clients are looking for diverse lawyers, not just to appear politically correct, but because they want advisers that know something about their businesses, will share fresh perspectives and work collaboratively, added Baker, noting that women often do better on those fronts since they “tend to score higher on social sensitivity.”

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

Law360 released its fourth annual Glass Ceiling Report, which surveyed 300 law firms on gender diversity and ranked firms based on the percentage of female equity partners in the United States.

According to the report, women make up just 34% of all attorneys and 23% of partners in law firms across the country. Law360’s editor in chief, Anne Urda, notes, “Intentions among law firms are good, and some slight progress has been made, but overall the numbers indicate that law firms need to do much more to close the gap among male and female associates and partners.”

Firms with the highest levels of female equity partners tend to focus on building a clear pipeline to equity partnership for women and offering benefits like work schedule flexibility, mentorship programs and greater leadership opportunities in order to retain top-performing attorneys.

Among the 300 law firms surveyed, small firms (20-149 attorneys) had the highest percentage of female equity partners, including Adelson Testan (60%), Walsworth (57.1%), Stokes Lawrence (43.5%), Berry Appleman (42.9%) and Verrill Dana (41.5%).

For medium to large sized firms (150-599 attorneys), the top five best firms for female partners were Fragomen (40.7%), Miller Nash (37.7%), Hanson Bridgett (37.1%), FordHarrison (33.3%) and Chapman & Cutler (31.2%).

In the biggest category of ‘Big Law’ firms (600+ attorneys), firms with the highest percentage of female equity partners were Littler (28.5%), Faegre Baker (27.2%), Jackson Lewis (26.1%), WilmerHale (25.1%), and Ropes & Gray (25%).

See the full article and rankings on Law360.

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Law.com reported that only 34% of lawyers in large firms today are women. That statistic has faced less than a 1% increase over the last five years, according to ALM’s Female Scorecard. Senior ALM Analyst, Nicholas Bruch, reported that only 18% of equity partners and a shocking 8% of lawyers making over half-a-million dollars are women. In a goal to meet gender parity, large firms are making slow progress–but not all hope is lost.

Despite the slow moving figures, there is supporting data implying that Big Law will reach the goal of gender parity, eventually. According to Law.com, ALM reported recent figures that women account for 47% of law school graduates. This figure is generally in line with the climbing 45% of entry-level associates at large firms that are women. The increasing numbers prove that Big Law’s strategies to hire more women are effective at this phase. Attacking the issue at entry-level is key for large firms to fix the problem from occurring further down the road.

ALM conducted a Women in Leadership Survey which revealed that one in four members on key governing committees are women. This indicates that firm leaders are making a noticeable effort to place female partners in top leadership roles. The 18% of females in equity roles to choose from seems to be what is slowing down efforts.

Firms are making significant efforts to hire females at the entry-level and at the most senior level, but the focus should be to retain women in Big Law and transition female associates into partners. Firms should target two critical pieces: supporting female career progression and developing a plan to gather data on why females are leaving the firm or the industry. According to ALM Intelligence, women don’t necessarily leave the legal industry at a specific milestone in their lives or careers. So, the assumption that women are leaving the law after having a child or during key partner promotion years is largely false. Data reveals that women are leaving the law at a slow and consistent rate–an indicator that law firms must creatively solve the issue of female retention.

Law.com suggests that a single, clear and obvious solution is not likely to be found. Leaders in large firms should take a broader approach and focus on developing an assortment of strategies to retain and promote female lawyers. Some firms have started implementing mentorship and coaching programs to target women in crucial transition years. Even though the results of such programs have yet to surface, the efforts to retain females in Big Law are undeniably progressing.

For more information, contact Bill Sugarman.