Why Are Women Not Leading in Law Firms?

Why Are Women Not Leading in Law Firms?

Like many publications involved in the legal media, the Lawyer in the UK has been asking why so few women make to senior roles?  Specifically, The Lawyer asked, why do they not make senior management roles, noting that only eight women hold senior roles in the UK’s top 50 law firms.

The whole gender issue is hot in the UK, US and elsewhere as firms increasingly focus on diversity targets and – as the Lawyer points out – scramble to hit the magic 30 percent female partner ratio.

Despite a growing number of firms pledging to improve their gender diversity credentials, the most recent data from The Lawyer’s UK 200 shows that just 19 per cent of the total partnership roles in the top 20 firms are held by women.

This stands in stark contrast to the fact that for the past 20 years the majority (60 per cent) of new entrants into the UK legal profession were women.

Only two female partners are currently in senior leadership roles in the UK top 20 firms: Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) CEO Sonya Leydecker and CMS Cameron McKenna senior partner Penelope Warne.

Women in management

A third, Berwin Leighton Paisner managing partner elect Lisa Mayhew, was elected earlier this year but is yet to start her term.

The balance is barely any better in the UK’s top 50 firms. There, eight women hold management roles.

Along with the above trio, Addleshaw Goddard senior partner Monica Burch, Stephenson Harwood CEO Sharon White, Withers managing director Margaret Robertson, Trowers & Hamlins senior partner Jennie Gubbins and Shoosmiths’ CEO Claire Rowe complete the line-up.

Whether it was being in the right place at the right time or through sheer willpower, these women have successfully risen through the ranks to the very top.

How did they do it? And what insights can they offer to anyone also considering a leadership role?

This feature offers a snapshot of the UK market direct from the remarkably few current female law firm leaders.

Source: The Lawyer

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