Survey shows marginal improvement for female lawyers

February 26, 2014 The National Association of Women Lawyers has released its eighth annual survey of the largest 200 US firms, finding that women account for 64 per cent of staff attorneys, and just 17 per cent of equity partner roles are held by women. The results represent an improvement on last year’s figures, when the survey reported that 70 percent staff attorneys were women while 15 percent equity partners were women.

But the slight change is no reason to celebrate: “This year’s results reinforce that women in private practice continue to face barriers to reaching the highest positions in their firms – as equity partners and members of governance committees,” said Stephanie Scharf, report author, Past President of The NAWL Foundation, and Partner at Scharf Banks Marmor

“It is troubling that women make up the large majority of staff attorneys – those lawyers in the lowest echelon of law firms – at the same time they make up a static minority (on average 17%) of equity partners in BigLaw.”

NAWL Foundation Board member and report co-author Roberta Liebenberg, Partner at Fine, Kaplan and Black and Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Women, described the survey’s results as: “basically showing very little progress, after years of very little progress. Unfortunately, the current statistics are not significantly different from what they were when the first NAWL Survey was released in 2006.”

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