US legal publication starts benchmarking female partner promotions

The AM Law Daily has taken a look at the number of women promoted to partner in leading US firms over the past four years, in order to set a benchmark against which they might track progress in gender equality. Looking at the promotions since January 2008 from 179 leading firms in the US, the publication noted that of the early 5,000 names, 1,500 were women, or 30 per cent. This figure is taken as a benchmark in an interactive graphic plotting firm-by-firm promotions called Women Partner Watch. The first wave of promotions to be plotted on the chart are the 96 firms that announced promotions effective from January 1, 2012. Of all 973 lawyers recently promoted, 323 were women, or roughly 33 percent. Over the last four years, the firms that met or exceeded the 30 percent standard varied in size, shape, and location. They included: Debevoise & Plimpton; Kutak Rock; Munger, Tolles & Olson; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Sullivan & Cromwell; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. As the AM Law Daily points out, a flextime work schedule that doesn't punish those who take advantage of it seems to be one key to having women around long enough to get promoted. For example, at Debevoise, Kutak, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale all have a history of promoting women while they were working part-time schedules, and several of them continued those arrangements after they became partners. "We wanted to create flexible tracks for lawyers without stigmatizing them," says Carol Clayton, Wilmer’s assistant managing partner. "We wanted to make it normal to see variation in the paths that lead to promotion. To do that, we had to get away from the pushed-off-the-cliff syndrome, the up-or-out system. We're saying to lawyers facing difficult choices that we want you to stay. And we mean it."

US legal publication starts benchmarking female partner promotions Sun, Jan 15, 2012