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Women lawyer count still low, state survey reveals

By James Barnes

17 December 2012 at 12:30 BST

Only slightly more than a quarter of lawyers at firms in the US's sixth largest jurisdiction are women, a recent survey shows, rekindling concern that gender diversity is still not taking hold in the country's legal profession.

Pittsburgh: women's initiatives faltering?

The survey of the largest 100 law firms in Pennsylvania showed that while the number of women practising had crept up from last year, it is still much lower than many expected and hoped, especially against the backdrop of women accounting for roughly half of those qualifying into the profession.

Partnership woes

Research from The Legal Intelligencer – reported by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette – found that 28.5 per cent of the lawyers at the law firms targeted are women, compared to 27.8 per cent in 2011. However, at partner level, the figure drops to just 9.9 per cent.
The report points out that the figures are especially disappointing when compared to statistics showing that women have been graduating from law school in similar numbers to men.

Doors closed

Lisa Benzie, co-chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession, welcomed the increase in female lawyers and praised law firms for implementing women’s initiatives. But she also questioned whether the doors were closed to women who wanted to reach high-level positions.
The two firms that came top of the research were employment law boutiques Rubin Fortunato & Harbison and Littler Mendelson, where women lawyers make up 52 per cent of the headcount.


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