BigLaw's 21 Best Firms for Promoting Women in 2016

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on January 17, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For the first time ever, there are more women in law school than men, and women continue to make up an increasing percentage of the lawyers. But when it comes to making partner at many BigLaw firms, well, it's still very much a boys' club.

But some firms bucked that trend in 2016. According to an analysis by Bloomberg Big Law Business, 21 BigLaw firms had 2016 partnership classes that were 50 percent female or higher. Indeed, three firms promoted only women to partnership in 2016.

The 21 Firms Where Women Rose the Most in 2016

To analyze how women had performed in the past year's partnership class, Bloomberg Big Law Business looked at partner promotions for 2016 in the 100 largest law firms. Of those, 21 percent hit gender parity or above. At the very top were Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Schulte Roth; and Pepper Hamilton -- three outliers with all-female partnership classes. Here are the top 21:

  1. Cravath, 100 percent women
  2. Pepper Hamilton, 100 percent
  3. Schulte Roth, 100 percent
  4. Paul Hastings, 80 percent
  5. Ogletree Deakins, 75 percent
  6. Pillsbury, 75 percent
  7. Williams & Connolly, 75 percent
  8. Blank Rome, 71.4 percent
  9. Watchell, 66.7 percent
  10. Faegre Baker, 63.6 percent
  11. Lewis Brisbois, 63.6 percent
  12. Nixon Peabody, 63.6 percent
  13. K&L Gates, 54 percent
  14. Haynes and Boon, 53.85 percent
  15. Orrick, 52.6 percent
  16. Dorsey, 50 percent
  17. Locke Lord, 50 percent
  18. Mintz Levin, 50 percent
  19. O'Melveney, 50 percent
  20. Perkins Coie, 50 percent
  21. Steptoe, 50 percent

Not Everyone's a Winner

These top firms, however, aren't the norm. (You can see a full list of the firm data here.) For the 21 firms that promoted 50 percent women or higher, 79 did not. Indeed, on average, the 2016 partner classes in AmLaw 100 firms were 36.7 percent women, according to Bloomberg, below the average of 37.1 percent.

Five firms promoted no women to partner at all last year. Those firms were Sullivan & Cromwell, Paul Weiss, Shearman & Sterling, Cahill, and Hughes Hubbard.

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