‘Diversity’ in US law firms is a sham, according to report on female equity partners

September 7, 2010 A new report takes a detailed look at female equity partners in major law firms, using survey data to build a statistical picture of professional prospects for women in the industry.

Some key statistics from The American Lawyer report include the fact that women make up only 17 per cent of partners at the surveyed firms, even though they represent around 51 per cent of law school graduates in the last 20 years.

Forty-five per cent of women partners working at multi-tier firms have equity status, compared with 62 per cent of male partners at these firms. Some commentators take these figures to be an indictment of the multi-tier partnership structure. The structure allows firms to create two classes of partners – often split along gender lines – while maintaining the appearance of diversity in the ‘partner’ ranks.

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