WIPR Influential Women in IP 2019
www.worldipreview.com Women in the boardroom
Again, when it comes to lawyers, there’s been a
gradual increase overall in the proportion of women
lawyers over the past decade, rising from 35% in
2004 to 43% in 2015. But the number of women
progressing to partnership is still very small.
“There still seems to be largely insufficient
commitment to diversity at all level in firms. Only
very few law firms address the issue as one concerning
women and men and therefore see the need to address
the general attitude of all members of the firm and
their culture,” warns the report.
More bad news
In the UK, companies with more than 250 employees
were required to publish figures on their gender
pay gap by April 2018. While many had suspected a
disparity, it was perhaps not to the extent that was
The top 25 UK law firms reported an average 20%
pay gap between men and women in 2017, but the
firms faced criticism for not including partners in
these numbers (all pay gap statistics are reported on
a mean basis).
In June 2018, the parliamentary committee
investigating the effectiveness of the reporting
requirements compelled the five ‘magic circle’ firms
to publicly reveal the full details of their gender pay
Clifford Chance had already broken ranks and
included partners in its reporting in March. The pay
gap soared with the inclusion of partners into the
numbers—Clifford Chance reported that men at the
firm are paid on average 66% more than women.
While Linklaters had previously submitted its
gender pay report without partners (and reported
a 23% pay gap), it soon revised figures. With the
inclusion of the upper echelons, the statistics reported
that men were paid 60% more than the average female
Following the parliamentary committee’s order,
the three other firms disclosed their pay gaps.
Including partners, the pay gap stood at nearly 62%
for Slaughter and May and 60% for Freshfields for
their whole staff.
Allen & Overy, which was accused of dragging
its feet over the partner pay figures by the chair of a
parliamentary select committee, published updated
statistics in September 2018, reporting a 65% pay gap
At the time of writing, the 2018 reports continue
to trickle in, with a looming deadline of April 4.
This year, Clifford Chance reported a pay gap of
nearly 69%, up on its 2017 figure of 66%. According
to the firm, there were two main reasons for this: the
proportion of women in the UK partnership make up
21% of the total, and the high proportion of women
in administrative roles who make up a large part of its
lower quartile population.
To further promote transparency, the law firm
disclosed its ethnicity, sexuality and disability pay
gaps of 52%, nearly 36% and nearly 62% respectively,
adding that these gaps are “impacted by the relatively
small populations in each of these categories which
can have a disproportionate and significant impact
on our pay gap figures”.
“The data we have reported is another indication
that our partners do not reflect the diversity we aim to
achieve. Diversity in ethnicity, sexuality and disability
will remain a key area,” said the report.
Our headline sponsor, Kirkland & Ellis, recently
reported that its employee-only (which excludes
partners) hourly pay gap was 26% in 2018, a fall
from the 33% in 2017. Female share partners at the
firm earn more than a third less (36.5%) than male
partners, while the pay gap between non-share
partners is 2.7%.
Kirkland & Ellis puts forward a similar reasoning
to Clifford Chance: “The reporting of gender gap
percentages on a blended basis is impacted significantly
by the positions filled primarily by one gender.
“For example, in the London office, all our
secretaries are women—as such, the median pay and
bonus gap percentages result from comparing the
pay and bonus of a secretary to that of a lawyer.”
While there could be many reasons behind the
disparity, one reason certainly plays a leading role—
the simple fact that there are fewer female partners
than male ones across the industry as a whole.
What are law firms doing to bridge this gap and
A range of initiatives have been undertaken by
law firms, including diversity and inclusion policies,
How long have you been at your
More than five years Between 1 and 5 years
Less than a year
of IP attorneys in the US
are men, according to
barrier in my
is male senior
managers and a
lack of diversity