Law360’s Fourth Glass Ceiling Report Shows Only Marginal Growth Opportunities for Female Attorneys

Survey shows women comprise less than 35% of total attorneys and fewer than 20% of equity partners; only nine firms have more than 50% female attorneys

Press Release ( - NEW YORK - Jul 25, 2017 - Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of the typical U.S. law firm, according to the fourth annual Glass Ceiling Report ( released today by Law360 (, a LexisNexis® company. The report reveals that women comprise just 34.8% of total attorneys in the nation’s leading firms, up slightly from 34% last year, representing growth of less than one percent across all attorney levels since last year.

Until 2016, women had comprised more than 40% of law school students for more than 30 years, with totals nearing 50% for the last two decades. Last year, the number of female law school students surpassed 50% for the first time since 1992[1][2]. Despite this growth, men continue to make up more than 60% of all attorneys and nearly 80% of partners.

Women represent 44.3% of non-partners at the firms surveyed, up slightly from 43.8% in 2016. At the partner level, women account for only 23% of all law firm partners (both equity and non-equity partners), but their representation is much higher — more than 30% — among non-equity partners. The report also found only slight variations in female representation among firms of different sizes.

“In the four years that we’ve been conducting the Glass Ceiling report, women have made only incremental advances in terms of overall opportunities, especially at the partner and equity partner levels – the ultimate glass ceiling for female attorneys,” said Anne Urda, editor in chief of Law360. “Intentions among law firms are good, and some slight progress has been made, but overall the numbers indicate that law firms need to do much more to close the gap among male and female associates and partners.”

Among individual firms, the Glass Ceiling Report shows that only nine firms (2.6% of firms surveyed) report having an attorney workforce that is 50% or more female, while 60 firms (17%) report levels of 40% or higher.

Firms with the highest levels of female equity partners tend to focus on building a clear pipeline to equity partnership for women and offering benefits like schedule flexibility and mentorship in order to retain top-performing attorneys. Small firms (20-149 attorneys) had the highest percentage of female equity partners, including Adelson Testan (60%), Walsworth (57.1%), Stokes Lawrence (43.5%), Berry Appleman (42.9%) and Verrill Dana (41.5%). Among the largest firms (600+ attorneys), the so-called “ceiling smashers” were Littler (28.5%), Faegre Baker (27.2%), Jackson Lewis (26.1%), WilmerHale (25.1%) and Ropes & Gray (25%).

Overall, among the 300 organizations surveyed, the top five firms for women in each size category were:

• Small firms (20-149 attorneys): Outten & Golden; Liebert Cassidy; Berry Appleman (tie); Walsworth (tie); Fross Zelnick
• Medium firms (150-299 attorneys): Constangy Brooks; FordHarrison; Bowman and Brooke; Hanson Bridgett; Shipman & Goodwin
• Large firms (300-599 attorneys): Fragomen, Del Rey; Quarles & Brady; Schiff Hardin; Ice Miller; Crowell & Moring (tie); Fisher & Phillips (tie)
• Mega firms (600+ attorneys): Littler; Jackson Lewis; Baker McKenzie (tie); WilmerHale (tie); Faegre Baker

The full 2017 Glass Ceiling Report is available via subscription to Law360. To subscribe, please visit:

Survey Methodology
Law360 surveyed more than 300 U.S. firms, or vereins with a U.S. component, about their overall and female headcount numbers as of Dec. 31, 2016. Only U.S.-based attorneys were included in the survey, and firms had to have at least 20 U.S.-based attorneys to participate.

For the Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys, firms were first grouped according to size: 20-149 attorneys, 150-299 attorneys, 300-599 attorneys and 600-plus attorneys. Then, firms that fell below the average in any of the following categories were deemed ineligible for the ranking: (1) percentage of female attorneys; (2) percentage of female nonpartners; (3) percentage of female partners, both equity and nonequity, and; (4) percentage of female equity partners. Finally, remaining firms were ranked using a formula that equally weights the percentage of nonpartners and percentage of total partners who are women.

For the Best Law Firms for Female Partners, firms were ranked based on their percentage of U.S. equity partners that identify as women. Firms that declined to disclose their equity partnership gender data were not eligible for the ranking.

[1]  American Bar Association: First Year and Total J.D. Enrollment by Gender 1947 – 2011 (…)

[2] Banks, Lisa. “Where Do Women Go To Law School?” American Bar Association. 3 May 2017.

About Law360
Law360, a LexisNexis company, is a one-stop source for legal news and in-depth analysis, with up-to-the-minute coverage of litigation, regulation and enforcement, legislation, executive orders, administrative hearings, corporate deal-making, and more across dozens of practice areas, industries, and jurisdictions. With a unique blend of cutting-edge technology and journalistic expertise, Law360 delivers the intelligence legal and business professionals need to remain experts and get ahead of the curve. Visit to find out what more than 1 million readers at top law firms, Fortune 1000 companies, and key government agencies already know.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Eric Sokolsky
Plat4orm PR for Law360

Source : Law360

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