More and More Women are Becoming BigLaw Equity Partners

By Andrew Lu on August 24, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

More woman partners are being promoted to equity partners at the Big Law firms, says a 2011 study.

This result is a bit surprising as there have been conflicting data that fewer women are entering Big Law practice and the ones who enter firms tend to leave as they advance in seniority, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Overall, the data is still bleak for woman. Women make up only 15% of equity partners nationwide, about the same number as in 2006. However, at the biggest law firms, women now make up as much as 20% of the equity partners.

At any law firm, the name of the game is to become an equity partner. Being a partner is nice and you make a lot of money. But the truly big money comes when you become equity.

An equity partner is different than a non-equity partner because they are no longer salaried. Instead, an equity partner shares in the firm's profits and has the potential to earn an enormous bounty. If you are a non-equity partner, you just a make a fixed salary like everyone else with a potential for a bonus.

Females have traditionally had a hard time breaking into the coveted equity partner ranks because of sexist attitudes. In addition, the work/life balance to reach that point can be murderous regardless of whether you are male or female.

Besides equity partners, the study also revealed that there has been a slight rise in female partners of all types (equity and non-equity) at the top firms to 19%. Interestingly, women at firms with a single-track for partnership were more likely to become partners than women at firms where there is a dual track for equity and non-equity partners.

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