1. And you thought that 15 percent equity rate for American women lawyers was crummy. The Lawyer reports that efforts to increase female equity partners are essentially failing at the United Kingdom’s largest firms:
Despite apparent management efforts to increase the number of female partners, and the increasingly widespread introduction of flexible or part-time working practices, numbers are failing to grow significantly.
The female equity partnership rates are strikingly low among the big U.K. firms, including most of the Magic Circle:
Allen & Overy - 13 percent
Clifford Chance - 12 percent
DLA Piper - 12 percent
Freshfields - 11 percent
Herbert Smith - 10 percent
Linklaters - 14 percent
The worst place for women is Simmons & Simmons, which has only 6 percent female equity partners. That’s like Am Law 100, circa 1990! Reports The Lawyer: “Simmons also has the poorest record at increasing its proportion of female equity partner numbers over the past five years. Since 2006, the proportion of equity that is female has fallen by 4 percent.”
One Magic Circle firm that has a “good” track record on this front is the super-elite Slaughter and May, which clocked in at 18 percent female equity partners.
2. Ashurst stacks the decks—but please don't call it a quota system. How did Ashurst (16 percent female equity partners) finally get a woman on its management committee? Simple: present an all-female slate.
The Lawyer reports that Ashurst elected Madrid partner Cristina Calvo as its first-ever female board member in an election where all four candidates were women.
Ashurst's senior partner Charlie Geffen told The Lawyer that there were no quotas: “We didn’t say only female partners could stand, but we’ve said we want more women in senior management positions.” He added that it was “obviously good” that partners elected a female board member “of their own accord.”
We can only guess that a little nudging didn't hurt.
3. What British women really want in a law firm: Pampering. RollOnFriday reports that Glamour magazine rated Freshfields as one of the best places for women:
The magazine plugged Freshfields as the firm which is the most female-friendly in an article entitled “Bosses who love women” (presumably in the platonic sense). Apparently this is because the firm has “a gym, doctor, and restaurant.”
The honor is a bit puzzling, notes RollOnFriday, considering that women have a rather sad track record at the firm on the partnership front.
Ah, but as everyone knows, the way to a woman’s heart is not equity partnership, but those little touches—like access to a good salad bar, yoga classes, and a beautifully decorated lactation room.