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A merit-based promotion system can increase gender diversity in law firms

By Martin Arnold, Managing Partner, Wedlake Bell

29 October 2014

Recruiting and retaining the best talent in law firms is one of the most challenging management conundrums for the managing partner and the wider management team. Last year, women accounted for only 17.6 per cent of partners in the UK legal profession (up just 1.6 per cent from 2006) and only 13 per cent of equity partners in the top 20 firms (with some of these firms at less than 10 per cent). Regardless of gender, the wealth of talent within law firms should be encouraged and developed. How this is best achieved is the subject of intense discussion.

In 1987, we appointed our first female partner; Figure 1 shows the progress we have made since then. In terms of remuneration there is, admittedly, a small gender pay gap – in favour of the female partners. We are one of many firms making progress in gender equality, but more needs to be done across the profession.

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