08:20, November 01 357 0 abajournal.com

2017-11-01 08:20:07
Survey chronicles female lawyers’ exodus from equity partnership, belief they can’t have it all

Law firms are taking steps to improve gender equality, but it’s not translating to a better gender balance past the associate level, according to a new study.

The gender gap at high levels is much wider in law firms than in other industries, according to the study by McKinsey & Co. and Thomson Reuters. The study drew on survey responses by more than 2,500 lawyers and information from 23 of the nation’s top law firms, according to a press release.

Female lawyers are 29 percent less likely to be promoted to the first partnership level than men, and only 19 percent of equity partners are women, according to the “Women in Law Firms” study, available here. Female lawyers are 43 percent more likely to leave equity partnership than men, according to the one-year data sample.

Almost half of female lawyers say prioritizing work-life balance is one of the greatest challenges to their professional success. Only 44 percent of female lawyers think they can have a successful career and a full personal life, compared with 60 percent of men.

The study also found:

• Women of color account for 16 percent of entry-level lawyers but experience the steepest decline in representation at higher levels. They account for 3 percent of equity partners and 4 percent of managing partners.

• Only 36 percent of women think gender diversity is a priority for their firm, compared with 62 percent of men.

• All the law firms in the study reported that they provided the ability to work part-time or on a reduced schedule. But 75 percent of female lawyers and 74 percent of male lawyers think participating in a part-time program will negatively affect their careers.