September 2, 2010 6:00 AM
Looking Into the Equity Box: Women and Partnership Status
Posted by Vivia Chen
In the September issue of The American Lawyer, we consider a topic of great importance to women lawyers but one that law firms aren't talking about--the numbers of female partners at Am Law 200 firms who have equity.
The data compiled for this first systematic look at the issue is presented below. When we reviewed it, two numbers immediately jumped out. First, women make up only 17 percent of partners at the firms we surveyed, even though they have represented about 51 percent of law school graduates in the last 20 years. Second, of the women partners who work at multitier firms, 45 percent have equity status. In comparison, 62 percent of the male partners at these firms have equity.
This first chart presents information on firms with a single tier of partnership. We separated this group out from the multitier firms because, at one-tier firms, only one number is relevant--the number of women partners, period. Although it is presumably easier to make partner at multitier firms, the percentage of women equity partners is highest at the nation's most elite firms--those with single-tier, lockstep partnerships. At six of the one-tier firms included on the first chart below, the rate was 20 percent or more. This is a striking contrast to the data compiled from multitier firms, where only two firms (Littler Mendelson and Shook Hardy) broke 20 percent. (Note: Click on the charts to zoom in.)
The rate of female equity partners at the multitier firms was all over the lot--ranging from a high of 25 percent to a low of 8 percent. At most of these firms, the rate of women equity partners was in the teens (two firms had either 20 percent or more women with equity; seven firms had ten percent or less). At virtually every two-tier firm, the "percentage of male partners who have equity" was higher than the "percentage of female partners who have equity." There a number of reasons for this, some of which are explored in the story from the current issue. But as long as it remains so, this issue will be at the top of womens' (and our) minds.
Source: The data used in the story and the attached charts come from questions asked as part of our 2010 Diversity Scorecard Survey (which was based on data collected as of September 30, 2009). We tried to compile numbers for the complete Am Law 100, but some firms provided incomplete
information, or information that was not consistent with our reporting.
CLICK HERE to read the story in the current issue of The American Lawyer.