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Law360, New York (July 23, 2017, 8:02 PM EDT) -- U.S. law firms have long been overwhelmingly dominated by men, particularly at the partnership level, and Law360’s latest Glass Ceiling Report shows that recent progress has been — at best — only incremental.Law firms continue to make only the smallest steps toward increasing the number of women in their ranks, Law360’s fourth annual headcount survey of more than 300 firms reveals, despite the fact that women have made up over 40 percent of law school students for more than three decades, according to data collected by the American Bar Association.Women make up only 34.8 percent of all attorneys at the law firms surveyed, up from 34 percent the year before. In other words, men continue to make up more than 65 percent of all attorneys at these firms, according to the report.Law firms did report some marginal increases in the percentages of women at both the associate and partner levels, with growth of less than 1 percent over the past year at all levels of a typical law firm. According to Law360’s report, as of Dec. 31, 2016, 44.3 percent of nonpartners at law firms were women, up from 43.8 percent the year before.The amount of women at the top ranks of law firms — those who are equity partners — continues to hover just shy of 20 percent — only slightly higher than the 19.2 percent tally Law360 found the year before.
But those minute improvements from one year to the next — particularly in the percentage of female equity partners — are nothing to celebrate, according to Joan Williams, director of the center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.“It just hasn’t risen substantially in decades,” Williams said. “What we should be looking for is progress, and that’s not what we’re seeing.”
Law360 subscribers can read the full Glass Ceiling Report.