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The glass ceiling at Bay Area law offices has lifted a bit over the past few years, according to a Bar Association of San Francisco survey released Tuesday. Almost two-thirds of the firms responding to the survey reported that at least 25 percent of all partners were female. And an even higher percentage of firms reported that at least 25 percent of firm managers were women. Both numbers are up substantially from a similar survey conducted as part of BASF’s “No Glass Ceiling” initiative two years ago, when only 22 percent of respondents reported that at least a quarter of partners were women. But the surveys are hard to compare because they were done differently and didn’t include the same firms. Since the initiative was announced three years ago, about 80 local law firms, legal departments and public law offices have pledged to boost the number of female partners and managers. But Tuesday’s results only reflect data from the 51 offices that responded. “Results show huge strides, but one does want to know why there was not a 100 percent response rate,” said task force co-chair Angela Bradstreet, managing partner at Carroll, Burdick & McDonough. Future actions for the task force include following up with firms that did not respond to the survey and that haven’t met their commitments, she added. While signatories are not named in the survey data, BASF said it was honoring a handful of firms and offices for their high percentages of female partners and managers. Among the firms with the most lawyers in San Francisco, BASF singled out Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Heller Ehrman. In the mid-sized category, it recognized Folger Levin & Kahn, Foley & Lardner, and Shook, Hardy & Bacon. The S.F. City Attorney’s Office, the S.F. Public Defender’s Office and The Gap Inc.’s legal department were also honored. The pledge “certainly had an impact,” said S.F. City Attorney Dennis Herrera Tuesday. “It was a motivating factor for me from a managerial perspective, allowing us to benchmark the commitment we were making and quantify it.” BASF “focused and crystallized the issue,” said Jessica Pers, a partner at Heller Ehrman and a member of the task force. “That perhaps has had some impact, but it is more a function of providing women opportunities to do interesting legal work.” Many of the honored offices agree that while the initiative has brought the issue to the fore, it has not changed policies, largely, they said, because these firms were already hiring, promoting and retaining more women. “A lot of clients want diverse attorneys representing them,” said Tammy Webb, administrative partner at Shook, Hardy. “Women in this office are seen as the go-to people for our clients.” The key to retention is providing women lawyers with opportunities, and having reduced work schedule and family leave policies that don’t carry negative consequences, explained Folger Levin partner Margaret Murray. Bradstreet said San Francisco was leading the way for the rest of the country, adding that she’s taken calls from bar associations in other cities interested in starting similar efforts. Two years ago, a national survey found that 16 percent of law firm partners were women. “Diversity makes for a great workplace for everybody; it is embedded in how we think and how we work here,” said Lauri Shanahan, The Gap’s general counsel. “Every single person in this department owns diversity.”

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