I must be delirious. This isn't normal for me. But for the third time this week, I have good news about the state of women in the profession. (For the other two pieces of positive news, click here and here.)
This time, the cheer comes from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which just announced 11 new partners, including five women. According to the firm, this is an all-time record for new female partners, pushing women's equity stake to 20 percent! (The five, pictured above, from left to right: Emily Lam, Karen Hoffman Lent, Penny Madden, Tatiana Monastyrskaya, and Erica Schohn.)
I'm not sure how Skadden hit this high note—and I'm not sure it knows either. (I've asked for the firm to comment, but so far, it has not been able to come up with a commentator.) So I'll just offer my own theories.
First, Skadden has always been known to be pretty progessive about women. Even back in 1993, when few firms had female equity partners in the double-digit percentage range, Skadden already had 15 percent. Skadden is also just one of three highly profitable Am Law 100 firms that reached Women in Law Empowerment Forum's "gold standard" for promoting women (the other two are Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett). More recently, it brought in Chicago lawyer Sheli Rosenberg, who's a powerhouse legal figure, to play den mother to the young female lawyers at the firm. That combination of history and ongoing vigiliance about promoting women could not have hurt.
Here's the complete list of new partners at Skadden:
Robert Fumerton - litigation, New York
Alejandro Gonzalez Lazzeri - corporate, New York
Scott Hopkins - corporate, London
Emily Lam - tax, Washington, DC
Karen Hoffman Lent - antitrust, New York
Penny Madden - international arbitration, London
Steven Messina - banking, New York
Tatiana Monastyrskaya - energy and infrastructure projects, New York
Erica Schohn - executive compensation and benefits, New York
Peter Serating - mergers and acquisitions, New York
Dwight Yoo - corporate finance, New York
Look, I think it's wonderful that Skadden has this bumper crop of women in its new partner class this year, but let's not get carried away. This might just be a fluke year (you might recall that Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr made eight female partners out of 11 in 2010 but only two women out of 11 this year). Also, let's not forget that it's been a long haul for Skadden to finally reach that 20 percent female partner mark.
Still, let's celebrate while we can.
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