Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Promotion of Women Lawyers Stalls

33% of New U.S. Partners are Female, Compared to 34% in 2010

There is not a lot to celebrate when it comes to the gender composition of the new partner classes. According to an updated survey of the new partner class of 2011 released by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) on June 14, 2011, law firms slid one percentage point in promotions of women attorneys in U.S. offices since last year, nearly 33% compared to 34% in 2010.

There were some bright spots. Of the 123 firms surveyed in 2011, 22 had new partner classes that were composed of at least 50% women.

Kudos to the firms with the greatest proportion of women in their new partner class of 2011:
• Zuckerman Spaeder promoted only one attorney, a female (1 promotion; 100% female)
• Beveridge & Diamond (6 promotions; 83% female)
• WilmerHale (10 promotions; 80% female)
• Thompson Hine (7 promotions; 71% female)
• Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (13 promotions; 69% female)
• Baker & Daniels (6 promotions; 67% female)
• Arnold & Porter (3 promotions; 67% female)
• Munger, Tolles & Olson (3 promotions; 67% female)
• Steptoe & Johnson (3 promotions; 67% female)
• Foley Hoag (5 promotions; 60% female)
• Husch Blackwell (5 promotions; 60% female)
• Seyfarth Shaw (14 promotions; 57% female)
• Littler Mendelson (14 promotions; 57% female)

Raised eyebrows to the firms that elected more than one attorney to the partnership, but included no women in their new partner class of 2011:
• Hunton & Williams (6 promotions; 0 female)
• Proskauer Rose (6 promotions; 0 female)
• Sheppard Mullin (6 promotions; 0 female)
• Boies, Schiller & Flexner (3 promotions; 0 female)
• Cadwalader (3 promotions; 0 female)
• Lowenstein Sandler (3 promotions; 0 female)
• Dickstein Shapiro (2 promotions; 0 female)
• Kaye Scholer (2 promotions; 0 female)
• Milbank (2 promotions; 0 female)

The complete list of firms surveyed and the numbers of men and women in their 2011 new partner class is available on PAR's web site.

Firms were chosen for this study based on inclusion in prior years’ surveys, firm size, and availability of information. As in prior years, information is included only for the firms’ U.S. offices.

“While the decrease in the percentage of women promoted to partner in 2011 is small, it has to be viewed in context,” said PAR Executive Director Manar Morales. “There are few female partners to begin with, and even fewer female equity partners. This dip should cause concern because it further delays the day when women lawyers will achieve parity in the profession.”

In 2010, NAWL reported that while women comprise about 60% of staff attorneys, only 15% of equity partners are women. This is not good news for firms. As a recent MCCA study found, law firms with proportionate representation of women from staff attorneys through equity partner levels outperformed disproportionate firms by $20 million.

Several of the firms that had new partner classes that were greater than 50% female are members of the Project for Attorney Retention: Arnold & Porter (promoted 2 women of 3 new partners), Beveridge & Diamond (5/6), Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (9/13), Munger, Tolles & Olson (2/3), and Seyfarth Shaw (8/14). Furthermore, although PAR did not systematically collect data on the numbers of part-time attorneys promoted to partner, PAR acknowledges and commends PAR Members Andrews Kurth, Beveridge & Diamond, and Fulbright & Jaworski for promoting part-time attorneys into their new partner class of 2011. Their PAR membership and numbers of women promoted in their new partner classes reflect these firms’ strong commitment to diversity and the advancement of women lawyers. Special congratulations are extended to other firms whose 2011 new partner cohort also include part-time partners.

A look back at 2010:

It should be noted that among those firms who promoted not a single woman to partner, some have been notably more successful in advancing women attorneys in the past. Last year, Proskauer Rose had a new partner class that included 67% women and PAR Member Dickstein Shapiro’s 2010 class had 40% women.

For many of the firms with new partner classes that included greater proportions of women, the numbers reflect a continued pattern of consistently high numbers of promotions of women attorneys, as shown in the table below.

Congratulations to all the new partners of 2011.

PAR wishes to thank Allison Tait for invaluable research assistance with this survey.

See the chart here.


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