03 May 2022

UK partner promotions gender diversity tracker

How leading firms are measuring up against their goals to promote more women to their senior ranks

Social justice together as a crowd of diverse people with a law symbol representing community legislation and equal rights or legal lawyer icon with 3D illustration elements.

Lightspring; Shutterstock

Leading UK law firms have been scrambling to improve their diversity records through the publication of targets, the launch of new initiatives and also by appointing more women to top positions.

The growing influence of the ESG movement and particularly its impact on clients – who are increasingly demanding more progress from their advisers – and recruitment seems to have jolted the profession out of its complacency. The fact that UK law firms are required by law to publish gender pay gap data has also been a major catalyst. 

Given that making partner is a key staging post in the development of a lawyer's career, marking their arrival into its senior ranks, the annual promotion round is an important measure of how law firms are performing. That's why many – although by no means all – law firms are now setting targets for promotions. 

Here we track how selected, major UK firms are performing against their stated gender diversity goals. 

Partner Promotions Selected UK Law Firms

DateFirmTotal Partners (2021)Female % (2021)Target 
3 MayClifford Chance37 (29)41 (38)At least 40% female partnership by 2030
27 AprilHerbert Smith Freehills34 (26)41 (30)A 35% female partnership by 2023
26 AprilAllen & Overy39 (29)36 (30)By 2021 at least 30% of partner promotions each year are women
22 AprilAshurst25 (14)28 (78)At least 40% female partnership by 2026
11 AprilCMS60 (52)43 (37)No ‘strict targets’ but firm ‘aspires for significant and continuous improvement in all areas of diversity’ 
7 AprilFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer27 (22)41 (50)From 2021-26 at least 40% new partners are women
6 AprilEversheds Sutherland International31 (22)65 (41)Refreshing targets (narrowly missed target to achieve a 30% female partnership by 2021)
5 AprilLinklaters41 (35)41 (40)At least 40% of new partners are women
5 AprilMacfarlanes8 (5)25 (60)To achieve a 30% female partnership by 2026; 35% by 2030 
30 MarchPinsent Masons23 (19)48 (26)Refreshing targets (narrowly missed target to achieve a 30% female partnership by 2020)
23 MarchSlaughter and May8 (5)12.5 (40)At least 40% of promotions to be women in the ten years to 2027

 

 

 

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