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US law firms have more ethnically-diverse UK partnerships than British firms

But London firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin outranks all challengers for top overall diversity spot 

31 October 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

International law firms have higher levels of ethnic than gender diversity in their UK partnerships, but top-100 UK firms have better female representation.

That's according to research by the Black Solicitors Network for its 2014 Diversity League Table, based on responses from 41 law firms in the UK. Among these, 14 are international, 22 are top-100 UK firms and six are top-10 City firms.

The government's minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan, said transparency "goes a long way to solving the problem of diversity".

Matthew Arnold & Baldwin retains its overall top spot for diversity, as does O'Melveny & Myers in second place. Weightmans enters the top 10 in third place this year.

Hogan Lovells and Linklaters retain their joint first position in the policy and practice table.

Baker & McKenzie falls back from joint first to sharing third place with ten other firms. Last year's other top-position firm for policy and practice, K&L Gates, did not provide data this year.

Withers ranks first for its number of female partners, with women making up approximately 45 per cent of its London partnership and half of its global office managers.

The private client firm is followed by Slater & Gordon (UK) and Winckworth Sherwood in the gender diversity rankings.

Among all of the respondents, an average 27 per cent of partners are women, compared to the national average of 17.6 per cent.

The research found that firms founded in North America rank higher than their British counterparts for ethnic minority diversity in UK partnerships.

O'Melveny & Myers tops the table of firms with the most ethnic minority partners, followed by Fasken Martineau and Cleary Gottlieb.

The findings suggest that the American 'melting pot' approach to cultural diversity may work better for law firm partnerships than the British 'salad bowl' method.

Cleary Gottlieb ranks highest for its representation of lesbian, gay and bisexual lawyers, followed closely by Latham & Watkins and then Withers.

Firms with the highest number of disabled lawyers are Paul Hastings, O'Melveny & Myers and Withers.

The 2014 Diversity League Table is sponsored by the Law Society of England & Wales and supported by the Bar Council, the Legal Services Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Judicial Appointments Commission.






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