'We still have a way to go': Macfarlanes unveils male-dominated partner round; underlines diversity goals

Top London firm says it is 'doing better' against new targets than 'snapshot suggests' as it makes up two women in eight-strong round


Macfarlanes has promoted two women in an eight-strong partnership round as it concedes it has a ‘way to go’ in its drive to improve its diversity as measured against a new set of targets.

In the firm's largest set of promotions since nine lawyers were made up in 2019, the gender balance of 25% women is down on last year when three out of five promoted partners were women.

The promotions come after the firm joined many of its UK rivals in unveiling a new set of diversity targets, which include the aim to achieve a 35% female and at least a 10% ethnic minority partnership by 2030, with an interim target of at least 30% female partners and 7% ethnic minority partners by 2026. 

A spokesperson for the firm said the promotions “need to be seen to be part of a longer journey we are on and in that context we are doing better than a one-year snapshot might imply”.

Some 37% of the firm’s partner promotions in the last three years have been women, while 6% have been from an ethnic minority background, the spokesperson said, adding that the firm was aware it still had "a way to go”. 

“Being transparent about our challenges, actions and progress is an important part of fostering a diverse workplace,” the spokesperson said. 

This year’s successful women candidates were Charlie Maydon Grace and Harriet Miller, who were promoted within the firm’s private client and investment management groups. Grace trained and qualified with Macfarlanes between 2011 and 2013 and was later promoted to senior counsel in 2021 while Miller joined the firm in 2010, according to their respective Linkedin profiles. 

Grace specialises in advising international families, trustees and family offices on tax, trust law, HMRC enquiries and estate planning issues. Her arrival to the market-leading private client group comes as former department head, the highly regarded Jonathan Conder, prepares to move across to Stephenson Harwood. 

Miller, meanwhile, focuses her practice on all aspects of private funds work, with a particular focus on fundraising matters in which she has represented both fund managers and investors. During her time at Macfarlanes, she has been seconded to investment firms as legal counsel including Skandia Investment Group and Old Mutual Global Investors and spent seven months as a UK secondee at Nixon Peabody in New York, according to her Linkedin profile.  

This year’s round saw three promotions in Macfarlane’s flagship M&A practice, which went to Thomas French, Nicholas Page and Tim Redman. Andrew Hughes and Rasmus Berglund also received the nod in the firm’s real estate and tax practices respectively. 

Senior partner Sebastian Prichard Jones commented: “We are delighted to announce the promotion of eight new partners. They represent fantastic additions to a broad range of our practice areas and we look forward to them continuing to drive the growth of the firm in the coming years.”

Macfarlanes, which has two offices located in London and Brussels, notched one of the highest jumps in profit per equity partner (PEP) in 2021 when it reported a 9.2% PEP increase to £2m against a 10% spike in revenue to hit £260m for the financial year. 

Earlier this month, Slaughter and May unveiled its own male-dominated partnership round, with just one woman making the cut in an eight-strong cohort a year after the Magic Circle firm published new diversity targets for at least 40% of equity partner promotions globally to be women in the ten years to 2027. 

In November, both Slaughters and Macfarlanes became founding members of Legal CORE – an initiative to tackle the underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK legal profession – alongside Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills and Norton Rose Fulbright. 

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