More law firms hit gender targets as partnership gap narrows


Source: The Australian Financial Review

The latest data from The Australian Financial Review Law Partnership Survey – sponsored by the UNSW Faculty of Law & Justice – shows 49.5 per cent of new partner appointments were women, who now make up 35.2 per cent of the partner cohort at the top 50 firms.

The figures continue a steady increase in the number of women partners – which has risen by 10 percentage points in the past seven years – but contrasts sharply with the gender ratios at graduate and senior associate level, where more than 60 per cent of lawyers are women.

Anna Sutherland, joint managing partner for disputes at Herbert Smith Freehills, said transparent promotion assessments were an important part of ensuring more women were elevated to firms’ upper echelons. “Sometimes you would get a really successful partner with a lot of influence that wants their candidate put forward, while candidates from partners with less influence would struggle to get the spot.”

Danielle Kelly, head of culture and inclusion at Herbert Smith Freehills, said was set to hit full partnership parity by 2030, but the firm remains outside the 40 per cent target set by many firms. Ashurst (44 per cent), Allens (40.3 per cent) and Gilbert + Tobin (40.2 per cent) are the only major firms to have reached that point.

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