The Firms Where You Are Most Likely to Make Partner

Working Mother Magazine didn't rank firms by how many of their partners are female, but I'll do it (using their data)! Of the fifty firms named "best for women" by WMM and Flex-Time Lawyers, which firms have the highest proportions of equity (profit-sharing) and nonequity partners?

The standouts are Folger Levin & Kahn (San Francisco), Ice Miller (Indianapolis), Armstrong Teasdale (St. Louis), and Katten Muchin Rosenman (Chicago).

[More after the jump]

It seems noteworthy that none of these firms is headquartered on the East Coast, even though most of the firms in the WMM list are. The firm that leaps out of the stats is Folger Levin & Kahn, where 46% of equity partners are female. That dwarfs all competition. Ice Miller has the second-highest proportion of female equity partners, at 28%. No other firm does better than having about 1 out of 5 of its profit-sharing parters be female. The average--and again, this is among the 50 best firms for women--is about 15% female equity partners.

Across the board, higher proportions of women are nonequity partners than equity partners. At Armstrong Teasdale, 41% of nonequity partners are women. Katten Muchin Rosenman follows close behind with 35% female nonequity partners. There are half a dozen firms on the list where at least 3 out of 10 nonequity partners are female.

While keeping in mind that all fifty of these firms are reportedly doing pretty well for women, it is curious that even in this "top" 50, one firm--Miller & Chevalier Chartered--actually has a nonequity partnership track but not a single female nonequity partner. That seems a little odd, especially since Miller & C. ranks near the top in its proportion of female equity partners. Maybe Miller & C. feeds all of its top women to the equity track, or has an extremely small number of nonequity partners? (Because 0 out of 5 is not as bad as 0 out of 100, I would think--that would be more of a one-off anomaly than a systemic problem.) If anybody knows, posting info in a comment would be great.

Here is the full spreadsheet [Microsoft Excel format] ranking the top 50 firms featured in WMM by where you are most likely to make equity partner and where you are most likely to make nonequity partner.

Anna Lorien Nelson is a student at Yale Law and Vice President of Ms. JD. You can read more of her blog posts or email her anytime.



Some of the firms mentioned here may be great places for women, but not all of them likely are.  Do not assume that just because a firm has lots of women (or women partners) that it is a great place for women to work.  Ask these questions:  what portion of the firm's revenues are distributed to women?  who decides what areas of practice to pursue?  who runs the cases?  who makes compensation decisions?  are any of the women actually advocates for women?  who is carrying whose briefcase?  are the women partners mostly "service" partners?  It's not enough just to make partner.  

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