Sunday, October 29, 2006


Where Are Women in Law Firms?

A new report from NAWL provides a good snapshot of where women are now in the legal profession. The report is available here, and the press relase here.

NAWL sent a survey to the 200 largest law firms in the U.S., and 103 responded. Based on those survey responses, NAWL reports that about half of associates are women, and women make up 28% of "of counsel," 26% of non-equity partners, 16% of equity partners, and 5% of managing partners.

To my knowledge, NAWL is the first group to study the number of women at the "of counsel" and non-equity partner levels. I find both of these numbers to be depressingly low (which isn't to say that I don't find the numbers of female equity partners and managing partners depressing, only that I expected the numbers to be considerably higher).

NAWL intends to update its data annually, which will allow us to see if the large firms are making any real progress in the areas of retaining and recruiting women. Given the astonishingly high attrition rate among associates today (78% by the end of their 5th year, according to NALP), I don't expect to see huge gains unless firms become more insightful and more proactive about keeping and advancing women.

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