Strategist - The FindLaw Law Firm Business Blog

Good News, Bad News for Women Lawyers in 2017

The good news is that more women are becoming law partners.

The bad news is, that represents only about 25 percent at the leading firms. And somewhere in between the good news and the bad news is a question:

With more women going to law school than ever, where are they going after that?

Small Law Partner Numbers

According to reports, women make up less than 35 percent of the women surveyed at American law firms. The "Glass Ceiling Report" by Law360 is based on a survey of 300 law firms with at least 20 attorneys.

The survey says the percentage of female partners "continues to hover just shy of 20 percent," while the Am Law 200 ranked the most progressive firms with about 25 percent women partners. The top firm, Fragomen Del Rey, reported 41 percent.

The studies suggest that BigLaw is leading the way, but the overall picture is not so encouraging. Joan Williams, director of the Center for Worklife at the University of California at Hastings, said the numbers for women in the law are small.

"It just hasn't risen substantially in decades," she said. "What we should be looking for is progress, and that's not what we're seeing."

Big Law School Numbers

Women are cracking the glass ceiling, but they are breaking down the doors at law schools. Last year, they outnumbered men in law school admissions and closed in on an equal number of graduates.

For years, women have occupied about 40 percent of the law school seats. But even with almost 50 percent of last year's graduating class, they have a way to go in the profession.

According to the ABA, women represent about 27 percent of the state and federal judiciary. They comprise about 25 percent of general counsel at Fortune 500 companies.

Related Resources: