Female partner promotions across the U.K. top 10 have increased by more than a third this year, as the country's largest firms push forward with efforts to boost gender diversity in their senior ranks.
The total number of women made up at the 10 largest legal practices by revenue rose 36 percent to 72 this year, up from last year's figure of 53, with the increase comparing favorably to an overall rise in partner promotions across the group of 13 percent.
The Magic Circle saw a 50 percent jump in the number of women added to their partnerships this year, with 24 made up across the five law firms against 16 in 2010-11.
Across the top 50 as a whole, the number of women made up rose 9 percent to 145 this year, representing 28 percent of this year's global partner promotions. In London, 51 women were made up, equating to 31 percent of all City promotions.
Allen & Overy and Norton Rose were among this year's standout performers for female promotions, with the Magic Circle outfit adding nine women to its partnership in a 21-strong promotions round, up from two last year.
Norton Rose this year made up 16 women, compared with seven in 2010-11. Management committee member and litigation head Deirdre Walker said: "The key is to ensure we are bringing the right people through to partnership and that we have a diverse group of leaders in the firm. We still have some way to go, but we are making progress."
Outside the U.K. top 10, the number of female promotions saw a drop-off from 2011, with the number of women making partner at firms in the 11-50 bracket falling by 9 percent against 2011 to 73 out of a total of 255 promotions. Overall, total partner promotions across the top 50 dipped by 1 percent.
Association of Women Solicitors chair Joy Van Cooten said: "We are pleased that the number of female partners is increasing but there is still a long way to go. Sixty percent of new entrants into the profession are women and this is not reflected in the partner numbers."
"Things are moving in the right direction, but what really needs to happen is a change in law firm culture. The young generation of male and female lawyers do not want to work 24/7."
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