Law360 Sunday released a study showing only a moderate increase in the number of female lawyers working in US law firms, despite the efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. Currently, only 38.9 percent of law firm attorneys are women, and only 27 percent of female attorneys are partners. According to Law360, these figures are “nearly identical results to last year’s report.”
The report also indicated that certain practice areas remain male-dominated. For example, only 12 percent of the attorneys who litigated before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board were women. Additionally, female criminal and appellate lawyers were underrepresented. However, one positive shift was that women now make up 49 percent of associates. Nevertheless, the percentage of women in higher-ranked positions remains the same.
The report’s authors believe that firms need to focus more on retention to raise rates of women in top positions, adding “if talented women are not given equal opportunities to grow and develop their skills, and are not compensated at comparable rates to men, they will look for other roles and other opportunities. When women face barriers to advancement, and don’t see a path forward, they won’t stay.”
Some firms have provided family-oriented benefits, introduced credits for mentorship and promoted an inclusive workplace. Other firms have tried to support a better work-life balance by allowing more remote work and by setting up satellite offices. Despite these efforts, gender parity remains elusive.