New York Times Deal Book: ‘A Bleak Picture’ for Women Trying to Rise at Law Firms, by Elizabeth Olson:
Even as more women add a law degree to their résumés, carving out a successful career at a law firm remains an uphill endeavor.
While initiatives and conferences to expand the number of women who are equity partners at law firms are something of a cottage industry, progress for women is, at best, static, according to the “2017 Law360 Glass Ceiling Report,” released on Monday by the legal publication Law 360.
Women are 50.3 percent of current law school graduates, yet they still make up just under 35 percent of lawyers at law firms, the report found. Most important, their share of equity partnerships — where the highest compensation and leadership positions are lodged — remains at 20 percent and has not changed in recent years, the report found.
“It’s a bleak picture, with a few bright spots,” said Anne Urda, the Law360 editor in chief, who helped oversee the report. The overall number of female lawyers at firms was up about 1 percentage point over last year, but only nine of the 300 firms surveyed had a lawyer work force that was 50 percent or more female.
As female lawyers largely remain boxed into the lower-ranking and lesser-paying jobs, the report noted a rise in gender bias lawsuits against law firms, which “likely will push law firms to reflect on their efforts to move the needle on gender parity.”