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Women--Still a Blip on the New Partner Radar

Vivia Chen

November 29, 2011

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Correction: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has four women out of 11 new partners. The original version mentioned one woman out of six. We regret the error.

1. Last week, we were euphoric about the new partner classes because three firms (including Wachtell Lipton!) elected more women than men. Well, it's back to reality this week. So let's just get it over with: Women are back in the minority--or nonexistent--among the latest crop of new partners at several major firms:

Cravath Swaine & Moore: No women out of four new partners.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher: Four women out of 11.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: Two women out of 12.

Sullivan & Cromwell: One out of five.

Weil Gotshal & Manges: Two out of 11.

2. Nice folks don't win. Maybe more women ought to read this latest study about power by faculty members at Kellogg School of Management, Stanford University, and Carnegie Mellon University. The upshot is that being nice and generous won't get you crowned as queen bee. You might earn some respect but that won't translate into power. It's essentially a variation of that old Machiavellian shtick about how it's better to be feared than loved. (See Kellogg Insight for details.)

3. This won't happen in a law firm. According to The Wall Street Journal, Corporate America has become smitten with reverse mentoring, where a senior exec is teamed up with a 20-something employee to gain insight on the younger generation--not to mention getting help on checking emails.

Apparently, this form of mentoring was started by--who else?--General Electric Co.'s CEO Jack Welch, the father of all corporate fabulousness. WSJ says that Welch "ordered 500 top-level executives to reach out to people below them to learn how to use the Internet," and that Welch himself learned to surf the Web from an employee in her 20s.

These days, the youngsters are teaching their elders about Facebook and Twitter, says WSJ: "At Ogilvy & Mather, world-wide managing director Spencer Osborn, 42 years old, says his younger mentors have taught him how to jazz up his Twitter posts, which had a reputation for being 'very boring,' and tell him what's hip on playlists these days."

 So are you ready to "mentor" that grouchy senior partner at your firm? Scary thought.


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The reason why there aren't more women partners is because women aren't stupid enough to work themselves into an early grave for it. It's the same reason women aren't in most crappy jobs that lack work-life balance and result in fat, over-stressed jackasses.

There are certainly enough competent women, and certainly enough women who aren't "nice", in fact I'd say the majority of women are quite a bit better at being snarky and manipulative than most men can be.

But yes keep writing these articles thinking you can sucker women into jumping into the rat race. Younger women have the game figured out already and are tuning you people out.

“This year we are pleased to note that almost half of our new partners are women, reflecting our deep commitment to creating a diverse network of leaders across this Firm,” added Jeffrey E. Stone, co-chair of McDermott Will & Emery, based in Chicago

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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