It’s a golden time to be a female lawyer

The predominance of women within the senior ranks of Australia’s law firms shouldn’t be lost anyone considering a career in this profession. According to the July edition of the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Law Partnership Survey, women represent around two-thirds of the senior associates, and 70 percent of in-house counsel workforce.

Equally encouraging for those (regardless of gender) considering a career in this profession, are favourable business conditions, that have allowed law firms to grow their senior associate numbers over the past 12 months. Given that they are typically on-track to become partners, female senior associates can take comfort that the years spent doing some of firm’s more mundane work, will eventually return spades.

While eight of Seyfarth Shaw’s total ten senior associates are women, it’s by no means the smaller firms that are exclusively top-heavy with women in their senior ranks. For example, almost 66 percent of Herbert Smith-Freehills’ 250 senior associates are women.

Within the next four largest firms, King & Wood Mallesons (228), Clayton Utz (221), and Allens (182) the representation of women at senior associate level are 53.5, 57.5 and 61.5 percent respectively.

While it has not consciously set out to achieve a pre-determined gender mix within its professional staff, 70.5 percent of HWL Ebsworth Lawyers’ 122 senior associates are women. The gender mix isn’t yet where he wants it to be, but HWL Ebsworth Lawyers managing partner, Juan Martinez told the AFR that the “situation is steady improving, with a much higher representation of females within its lateral recruitment activities and internal promotions”.

The unprecedented rise in the appointment of women to senior associate level should help close the glaring gender gap at the top of the law firm food-chain, with women still representing only 27 percent of partners across the AFR Law Partnership survey.

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