Women Compose Less Than One Third of Partners in Major Law Firms

Women continue to be significantly underrepresented as partners in large law firms, composing no more than about 30 percent of partners in any of the big-city law firms, according to a diversity study released Wednesday by Building a Better Legal Profession, a grassroots organization of law students. The goal of the study is to help law school graduates, half of which are women, make an informed choice about the firm they decide to join after graduating.

The researchers examined large law firms with more than 100 attorneys in Manhattan, Washington DC, Chicago, and Northern and Southern California and firms with 50 or more attorneys in Boston. It noted the percentages of partners and associates who are women, as well as people of color.

The percent of women partners at any single firm ranged from a low of 7.1 percent in Manhattan to a high of 30.6 percent in Washington DC. The highest rate logged by any big firm in Manhattan was only 23.3 percent, 29.8 percent in Chicago, 21.7 percent in Northern California, and 27.7 percent in Los Angeles.

Women fared much better in Boston ‘ where the study criteria were relaxed to include smaller firms ‘ and made up between 26.3 and 60 percent of partners. As for women of color, out of all of the markets observed, no single firm had more than five African American, three Hispanic or four Asian American women partners.


Building a Better Legal Profession 10/10/07; National Association of Women Lawyers National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms 10/06

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