Women Making Partner in Today's Law Firms? Maybe.

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Guest Post by Jones Whyte Law Though it still shocks some, the gender gap in the workplace continues to give rise to problems, even where you might least expect it.

For instance, one might suppose that in the legal realm, where many go to fight for equality, diversity and fair opportunities for all, that the gap would be less pronounced or even non-existent. However, that would be an incorrect assumption, as women have historically made up less than 50% of solicitors in firms and an even less percentage of actual partners.

But despite the slow uphill climb, diversity in law firms seems to be improving, and women especially seem to be catching up, especially in the past three or four years.

The Newest Data

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) recently completed their annual survey just this past August of 2017. Some of the numbers were indeed encouraging, especially when comparing them to the survey data collected just three years prior in 2014.

Percentage of Female Lawyers Overall

This is perhaps the most encouraging stat of all with 48% of all solicitors being women. This at least indicates that true gender equality in the profession is being achieved. However, this statistic has held steady since 2014.

But where we have seen an increase is as s we look to the future lawyer force. Currently, it looks like women will surpass men as lawyers in the near future, as 60% of all trainee-level solicitors are women. It seems that younger generations of women are favouring lawyering over men.

Percentage of Women Solicitors in Mid-Size Firms

While in general, women make up 48% of all lawyers, when you group firms by their size, the representation of women changes. Mid-sized firms (those with six to nine partners) are by far where the strongest representation of female solicitors is found. Women represent 66% (two thirds) of solicitors in mid-sized firms.

Percentage of Women as Partners in Firms

Where the results are a little more disheartening, however, are when you look at how many women are actually gaining seniority and making partners in firms.

Only 33% of partners are women, across the UK. This is barely a third of all partners. And in large firms, those with 50 or more partners, women make up even less of the partners, representing only 29%.

However, while the discrepancy here is significant, when you see how much this is an improvement from just a few years ago, it is still encouraging. Just in 2014, women only made up 31% of all partners, and 25% of partners in large firms. For there to be a two and four percent increase in a matter of three years seems to indicate a shift.

Furthermore, in mid-sized firms, females make up a larger proportion of partners, as much as 37% of the partners are women.

Future Prospects  

So, what does the SRA’s report ultimately mean for women currently practicing law and young women contemplating the field?

While movement up till now has been slow, it seems like momentum is building. The past three years have shown promising progress, and with as many as 60% of all trainee-level solicitors being women, it seems doubtful that firms will be able to block women from firms, deliberately or otherwise, for much longer.

So ladies, take heart. If your eyes are set on becoming a solicitor, odds are that the door to a partnership will be much more open to you than to those who came even 10 years before you.

 Jones Whyte Law, Solicitors

Jones Whyte Law, Solicitors

Written by Jones Whyte Law