More Women Partners at Pa. Firms, but Overall Ranks Stagnant

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Even as the percentage of women partners has increased over the last decade, female lawyers continue to make up less than one-third of the attorney population at Pennsylvania's 100 largest law firms, according to data tracked by Legal sibling publication PaLaw magazine.

The stagnant overall numbers and modest gains in partner ranks serve to show more work needs to be done, one bar association leader said.

The number of women attorneys showed almost no movement in either direction between 2012 and 2013, according to the figures reported by the magazine. In 2012, women accounted for 28.5 percent of the attorneys working in the Pennsylvania offices of the state's 95 largest law firms for which data was available. In looking at the 92 firms for which data was available in 2013, that figure was 28.3 percent. The numbers do not include attorneys working in out-of-state offices of those firms. The percentages are still higher than in 2011, when 27.8 percent of Pennsylvania lawyers were women.

While law firms have focused for years now on increasing the number and tenure of women in their firms, the figures tracked by PaLaw show not much has changed in the last decade. In 2003, women accounted for 29 percent of the lawyers practicing in the Pennsylvania offices of the state's largest law firms. There has been improvement, however, when it comes to partnership ranks.

In looking at the percentage of lawyers in Pennsylvania offices who are female partners, the figure comes out to 10 percent for 2013. PaLaw does not differentiate between equity and nonequity partners for purposes of the percentage-of-women breakdown, so the number of female equity partners as a percentage of the overall lawyer headcount is almost certainly less than 10 percent. In 2012, 9.9 percent of the lawyers practicing in the Pennsylvania offices of the state's largest firms were women partners.

Pennsylvania firms have increased their female partner ranks over the last decade. In 2003, 7.7 percent of the lawyers in the Pennsylvania offices of the largest firms in the state were women partners.

There are six firms at which women partners accounted for more than 20 percent of the firm's Pennsylvania lawyers.

Women partners equal 28.5 percent of Rubin, Fortunato & Harbison's Pennsylvania attorney ranks, they equal 25 percent of McQuaide Blasko's attorneys in the state, 22.2 percent of Willig, Williams & Davidson's attorney ranks, 21.4 percent at Eastburn and Gray, 21.3 percent at Littler Mendelson in Pennsylvania and 20.5 percent at Dilworth Paxson.

Similarly, there are six firms that reported no female partners, including the third ranked firm on PaLaw's list according to the overall percentage of women attorneys, Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer.

Almost 52 percent of Kane Pugh's 29 lawyers in Pennsylvania are women. All of those women—15—are associates. Burleson LLP, with 33 lawyers in the state, has no female partners but six female associates and four female of counsel. Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, RatnerPrestia, Powell Trachtman Logan Carrle & Lombardo and Volpe and Koenig are the other firms with no female partners in the state.

In 2003, nine of the 89 firms for which data was available reported having no female partners in Pennsylvania.

As was the case last year, labor and employment boutiques topped the list of Pennsylvania firms with the highest percentage of women attorneys. Littler Mendelson has 47 lawyers in Pennsylvania, including 10 female partners, 15 female associates and one female of counsel, meaning women comprise 55.3 percent of the firm's attorney ranks.

Rubin Fortunato came in next with women making up 52.4 percent of its Pennsylvania attorney ranks. The firm has 12 female partners, eight female associates and two female of counsel in the state.

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott partner Roberta Jacobs-Meadway, one of the co-chairs of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Women in the Profession Committee, said that when she graduated law school in 1975, half of her classmates were women. The same held true for the two classes before her.

"One would expect, simply from the numbers, that at this point, when my classmates and the classes directly ahead of us are in our sixties, that we would be seeing a significantly higher percentage of women partners than 9.9 or 10 percent," Jacobs-Meadway said.

She said women are reaching a certain point and dropping out of the larger law firms and either going in-house, to academia or to government positions or are leaving the law altogether. It's an easier proposition these days, given technology, for attorneys to start their own firms, Jacobs-Meadway said, and many women are doing just that. So while the overall numbers are stagnant, those women who do stay, she said, appear to be making partner at a slightly increased rate. Though Jacobs-Meadway was far from satisfied with the partner numbers.

"Obviously all of the larger firms need to do a better job in terms of diversity up and down the line because while the statistics for women generally are not where they ought to be, the statistics for women of color are even worse," she said. "There are historical reasons for it, but there are no good reasons anymore for this."

Jacobs-Meadway said the profession hasn't made nearly as much progress as she would have expected when she first moved into the junior partnership ranks. She said, however, that the jump from 7.7 percent to 10 percent could be worse.

"And frankly, considering the current state of the legal market, it could have been a whole lot worse," Jacobs-Meadway said, referring to the effect of layoffs on women attorneys during the recession.

In looking at the PaLaw numbers from 2007, before many Pennsylvania firms began making attorney cuts, women have actually grown their partnership ranks over the course of the recession. Women attorneys made up 29 percent of all lawyers practicing in the Pennsylvania offices of the 100 largest law firms in 2007 and equaled 8.7 percent of the partnership ranks.

Am Law 200 Rankings

The country's largest law firms are often more structured when it comes to creating women's initiatives and hiring committees within their firms. The largest firms are well spread out through PaLaw's latest rankings.

When it comes to the Am Law 200 firms with offices in Pennsylvania, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker is first on the list with 40 percent, or 10, of its 25 Pennsylvania lawyers who are women.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is the first such firm based in the state to be found on PaLaw's ranking, coming in at 14th place. Of the firm's 275 attorneys in Pennsylvania, about 36.4 percent are women. The firm has 22 female partners in Pennsylvania, 74 female associates and four female of counsel.

Drinker Biddle & Reath ranks 20th with nearly 35.1 percent of its 191 Pennsylvania lawyers who are women. More than 34 percent of Greenberg Traurig's 35 Pennsylvania lawyers are women, earning it the 21st spot on PaLaw's ranking. Dechert ranks 29th with 32.1 percent of its 159 attorneys in the state who are women. Ballard Spahr came in one spot behind with 32 percent of its lawyers who are women. Of Reed Smith's 316 lawyers in the state, 31 percent are women. Just under 30 percent of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's attorneys are women.

Nearly 30 percent of DLA Piper's 41 Pennsylvania attorneys are women. Almost 29 percent of Duane Morris' Pennsylvania attorney population is female. Of Pepper Hamilton's 312 Pennsylvania lawyers, almost 27 percent are women. Cozen O'Connor reports 23.5 percent of its lawyers in the state are women, Stevens & Lee reports 22.1 percent who are women and Fox Rothschild says 22 percent of its attorneys in the state are women.

At Blank Rome, 21.4 percent of its 196 Pennsylvania lawyers are women. Saul Ewing reports nearly 20.4 percent of its attorneys are women while Archer & Greiner said 19.2 percent of its Pennsylvania lawyers are women. At McGuireWoods' Pennsylvania location, 16.7 percent of the 30 lawyers are women.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI.

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