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UKboasts highest proportion of female partners in Europe but still just 16%

UKboasts highest proportion of female partners in Europe – but still just 16%


16% of partners in Magic Circle law firms in the UK are female, the highest proportion in Europe

Two thirds of female lawyers state their gender is a barrier to their success

Flexible working practices for partners and quotas may be required to redress gender imbalance at the top level

The UK and Holland have the highest proportion of Magic Circle partners in Europe – but still only 16%.

Research by international legal recruiter Laurence Simons, which analysed the gender of partners in all the Magic Circle law firms across Europe shows just under one in six is female in the UK. Holland tied for first place. Spain had the lowest proportion of female partners, with just 6.3%, while 9.6% of partners in Germany are women and 13% in France.

Lucinda Moule, managing director of Laurence Simons said: “Given that women make up less than one sixth of Magic Circle partners in the UK, it might come as some surprise that this is the joint-highest proportion in Europe. It’s certainly good news that the UK is leading the way in ensuring gender diversity at the highest level, but ultimately these results demonstrate the desperate need for top-tier firms to make better provision for the promotion of women. The fact that European nations are so far behind emerging economies such as China – where 28% of partners are women despite the population comprising 119 men for every 100 women – demonstrates antiquated promotion practices are entrenched in the developed economies of Europe.

“Back in 2010, Allen & Overy looked to improve the supply of women to top positions by taking the welcome step of offering their partners the chance to work part-time and to take extended leave during school holidays without financial penalty. These measures are certainly what’s required to improve the current situation, but unfortunately they have not borne fruit in the last two years.

“One part of the problem is that providing the option to spend more time out of the office doesn’t necessarily change promotion practices or expectations of partners. If there are still so few women at the top, it could be that quotas are the answer. Failure to actively address the massive gender imbalance among partners would see the legal industry continue to waste a huge amount of female talent”.


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