As 2009 draws to a close, I’ve noticed a proliferation of annual surveys. Two, in particular – one by The National Law Journal (NLJ) and the other by Law360 – captured my attention because they’re focused on the number of women partners at law firms. The survey results were a mixed bag. While the number of women partners rose slightly in 2009, only 18.47 percent of all partners are women, according to the NLJ. In the article “Women Still Number Too Few in Partner Ranks,” Law360 expressed concern that while women make up approximately half of law school graduating classes, many women are “leaking out” of the pipeline, whether due to family reasons or unfair stereotypes. However, Law360 also pointed out that some corporate clients are applying pressure on law firms to become more diverse, which will benefit women attorneys.
I am proud to be a member (partner) of a law firm that has a long history of hiring, retaining and promoting to firm governance talented women attorneys, when other firms might have turned them away primarily because of their gender. I am not at all surprised that my firm, EpsteinBeckerGreen, ranked among the Top 20 law firms for the high representation of women among its partners in the NLJ and Law360 surveys or that, earlier this year, The American Lawyer conducted its first “Women in Law Firms” study and ranked my firm 8th in the nation among all of the 200 largest firms for its percentage of women attorneys and among the top 10 firms with the highest percentage of women partners.
While I am pleased and honored with these rankings, I am confident that my firm will continue to attract and promote qualified women. This difficult economic environment provides opportunities, as well as challenges. There are qualified women attorneys with varied experience and skill sets that have been outsized from firms and/or corporate legal positions and this is a great time to identify great talent!!
How does your firm rank in the NLJ and Law360 surveys? Is your firm taking any special steps to beef up its number of women partners and include them in decision-making roles within firm governance?