Susan Smith Blakely

Dismal News For Women Lawyers in the NAWL Annual Report

The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) issued its first annual report in 2006 and has been updating it on an annual basis since.  Now, ten years later, the results are that no appreciable progress has been made for women lawyers in law firm settings.

According to the report, women lawyers still comprise less than 18 percent of equity partners, only 2 percent higher than in 2006.

Here is a summary from the report.

Women equity partners at law firms are not much better off than they were in 2006, according to the latest study by the National Association of Women Lawyers® (NAWL). The survey found that law firms have made no appreciable progress in the rate at which they are promoting women to equity partner, and male equity partners continue to be compensated at much higher levels than female equity partners.

In 2006, NAWL issued the NAWL Challenge: increase the number of women equity partners, women chief legal officers, and women tenured law professors to at least 30% by 2015, and it conducted its benchmark survey on this subject. Each year, the survey enables productive discussion by reporting objective statistics regarding the advancement of women lawyers into the highest levels of private practice. For the past 10 years, it has tracked the professional progress of women in the nation's 200 largest law firms by providing a comparative view of the careers and compensation of men and women lawyers at all levels of private practice, as well as by analyzing data about the factors that influence career progression.

"NAWL issued the Challenge to ignite the conversation about the under-representation of women in the legal profession," said NAWL President Marsha L. Anastasia. "We are committed to highlighting these issues and bringing the legal profession together to work on them and share best practices. After all, studies show that having a woman's point of view drives better business results."

To read the Executive Summary and the full report, please visit

So, it should be clear that it is time for change, and, in fact, that change is far overdue.  You can contribute to positive change by forwarding the messages of Best Friends at the Bar, purchasing the BFAB books, and encouraging your law firms and law organizations to support BFAB through speaking engagements, counseling and other programs.

Together, we can make a difference.  Let's get started!


Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Her new book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, will focus on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and will be released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.


Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division.  She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" for her work on behalf of women in the law.
Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit 

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