There is a small, but significant set of research on the challenges and trends of women in professions. We are working to achieve gender parity in private practice firms at a time when in house teams are expanding with their compelling work-life balance offer; the need to build a practice before partner promotion rather than inheritance or potential has expanded and senior partners (usually male) are staying in the workforce longer. We find ourselves with an important, yet wicked problem.
partnerships are different
Lateral hiring and retention of female partners is a unique challenge. Firms can take steps to integrate and retain their lateral hire partners. These same steps make a difference to retaining your existing female partners, special counsel and senior associates. Let’s make it harder for the in-house teams to make a compelling offer - can’t poach the female leaders from the same firms they are seeking equal representation from in their next panel review.
building a practice
Building a practice has both common and unique challenges for women. In the years leading up to a business case to make Partner or Principal, many women work part - time or take maternity leave. Others work a full -time pattern and find themselves struggling to access the activities needed to build a practice. After many years of coaching women faced with this challenge, there are some unique hurdles and strategies that do make a difference.
right to return to same job after parental leave is different
Client facing professional roles have different pressures and patterns as fee earners return from parental leave. The implications of these patterns can last several years and can contribute to gender pay gaps at Senior Associate level and flow on to building a promotion case for partnership.
Partner promotion trends for women are different
After carefully observing female promotion to partner patterns for many years, there are some unique challenges that all new partners experience. They can be exaggerated or have different consequences for women. Career paths have changed as law firms started to adopt commercial business models and this has impacted the careers of senior female fee earners. After making partner there are also interesting patterns. Women are not taking on practice or office leadership roles in the same number as their male counterparts. We all know the sway that a practice group leader or groups of senior leaders that are part of Laura Empson’s leadership constellation. Hear her describe it in her own words in the clip to the left or read her book Leading Professionals.