Only 29 per cent of partner roles in law firms are held by women

balancing act, law

Only 29 per cent of partner roles in large law firms are held by women, despite women making up 47 per cent of the UK workforce.

The new research from specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp, found that while there are more women working in law firms than men, there is a concerning gender gap at partner level. Only 37 per cent of partner roles in law firms were held by women in 2019. Unfortunately, this is reflective of the general workforce, with women only making up 38 per cent of managerial roles in the UK in 2019.  

However, this gender gap becomes even worse when you look at firms that have 50 or more partners. These larger firms only see 29 per cent of women being made partners, suggesting that it’s more difficult for women to climb the corporate ladder. 

The research also found that ethnic minorities are underrepresented in larger firms. Only 19 per cnet of lawyers in 2019 were from ethnic minority backgrounds and this paltry figure represents an increase over the past six years. Drilling down into specific roles, in 2014, ten per cent of solicitors were Asian or Asian British, and just two per cent of solicitors were Black or Black British. Six years later, these numbers had risen to 14 per cent and three per cent respectively.

The research also found only three per cent of people in law firms identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. In comparison, approximately seven per cent of the UK are estimated to be LGB by Stonewall and the Office of National Statistics (ONS). On a brighter note, while only two per cent of lawyers consider themselves to be transgender, this is one percentage point above the UK average, where one per cent are likely to be transgender. 

Speaking about the report, diversity and inclusion expert Chikere Igbokwe said, “the lack of diversity in senior judiciary is worrying.”

“A group of upper middle-class white men can’t reflect the views and values of a diverse community, and their biases can influence judgements.” 


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Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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