Women have made up over 40 percent of law school students for decades, and now they represent more than half, according to the American Bar Association.
But while the proportion of women in nonpartner roles is beginning to near the 50-50 hurdle, the upper echelons are far more divided.
Only one in five equity partners at the over 300 law firms surveyed by Law360 identified as female — a number that has hardly budged over the past four annual surveys.
“We’re seeing significant attrition of women from the profession as a whole and at points where they might reach a leadership position,” said Marci Eisenstein, managing partner of Schiff Hardin LLP.
For a variety of reasons, the equity partnership is still the most elusive tier for female lawyers. Issues such as implicit bias and stigma around parenting can get women stuck at the nonequity rung, or cause them to leave private practice altogether for in-house or government roles.
But until the equity partnership changes, private practice as a whole will not be able to shed its status as a largely male-centric industry.
Among attorneys overall, men are twice as likely to be equity partners. Women who do make partner are more likely to have nonequity status than their male counterparts, according to the Glass Ceiling Report.
But the picture isn’t the same across the board.
At the firms on this list, women make up over one in four equity partners and over 40 percent of the entire lawyer workforce — compared with just over 35 percent of attorneys across all firms surveyed.
Some firms — such as Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP and Adelson Testan Brundo Novell & Jimenez PC — have more than doubled the industry average in terms of female representation at the equity partner level.
Here are this year’s Ceiling Smashers.
--Additional reporting by Natalie Rodriguez. Editing by Jocelyn Allison, Jeremy Barker and Aaron Pelc.
Methodology: Law360 surveyed more than 300 U.S. firms, or vereins with a U.S. component, about their overall and female headcount numbers as of Dec. 31, 2017. Only U.S.-based attorneys were included in the survey, and firms must have at least 20 U.S.-based attorneys to participate. Firms are ranked based on their percentage of U.S. equity partners that identify as female. Firms that declined to disclose their equity partnership gender data were not eligible for the ranking.
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