Feminism, Gender, Partner Issues, Women's Issues, You Go Girl

Female Partners Are on the Rise

Last fall, we gave props to Sullivan & Cromwell for making a high number of women partners — four out of five, or 80 percent. If you consider only U.S.-based partners, S&C had a new partner class that was 100 percent female. (Tax partner Eric Wang is based in London.)

As it turns out, Sullivan & Cromwell wasn’t alone in having a majority-female partner class for 2010. From the Project for Attorney Retention (PDF):

The economy may be looking up, at least for the women lawyers in the 2010 new partner classes. According to a survey released today by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR), law firms made significant advances in retaining and promoting their women lawyers: 23 firms made new partner classes that were 50% or more female, and 34% of the new partners are female, compared to 28% of the new partners in 2009.

Not all of the news was good, however: 14 firms had all-male classes.

Let’s name names, shall we?

Of the 100+ surveyed law firms, these firms had 2010 partnership classes that were at least 50 percent female, according to PAR:

Sullivan and Cromwell (100% female); Munger Tolles (100%); Weil, Gotshal (100%); Mayer Brown (75%); Seyfarth Shaw (75%); Bingham McCutcheon (71%); Proskauer Rose (67%); WilmerHale (63%); Beveridge & Diamond (60%); Winston & Strawn (60%); Jackson Lewis (56%); Latham & Watkins (55%); Greenberg Traurig (54%); Akin Gump (50%); DLA Piper (50%); Duane Morris (50%); Epstein Becker & Green (50%); Fenwick & West (50%); King & Spalding (50%); Parker Poe (50%); Shook Hardy (50%); Sidley Austin (50%); and Zuckerman Spaeder (50%).

And here is PAR’s list of shame:

None of the following firms made a female partner this year (note: all made at least two U.S. partners): Boies Schiller; Cleary Gottlieb; Crowell & Moring; Kilpatrick Stockton; Lowenstein Sandler; Luce Forward; Milbank; Pepper Hamilton; Quinn Emanuel; Shearman & Sterling; Squire Sanders; Steptoe & Johnson; Wachtell; and Wiley Rein.

There are some caveats. “The increase in the number of women promoted to partner is heartening,” said Cynthia Thomas Calvert, PAR’s Director of Research. “But two factors indicate that celebration would be premature: first, the overall number of women partners in law firms remains low, at approximately 19%, and second, this survey made no distinction between equity and nonequity partnership, and other studies have shown that an even lower percentage of equity partners are female.”

(For more on that issue — i.e., whether obscuring the equity / nonequity divide allows firms to claim that they are doing a better job than they actually are of promoting women and minorities — see here.)

How is your firm doing in promoting women to partner? Check out PAR’s detailed chart (click here, then scroll down).

Women Lawyers Advance in New Partner Classes [Project for Attorney Retention]

Earlier: New Partner Watch: Girl Power at Sullivan & Cromwell
NALP Won’t Distinguish Between Equity and Non-Equity Partners: Women, Minorities, and Lovers of Truth Get Angry
Can Remote Access Help Firms Make Female Partners?

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