Women are slowly – but hopefully surely – climbing to the top of major law firms.
The debate over women leadership and partnership numbers in law firms has long been debated and argued, but two recent announcements give cause for hope for women lawyers. Jami Wintz McKeon (pictured) has become the first female chair of Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Theresa Pritchard has risen to the top position at Bryan Cave. Both women are litigators, but their rise still has others concerned about the relative paucity of women in leadership positions at law firms.
In the US, as in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere, women are largely underrepresented in the top echelons of law, accounting in the US for one-third of all lawyers but making up under 20 per cent of equity partners in the biggest 200 law firms according to the National Association of Women Lawyers.
The women who sit atop large law firms are very small, having thinned in recent years with the retirement of some female chiefs. According to the NAWL eight per cent of law firms have women managing partners in 2008, but half that percentage in 2012.