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For years, firms have been inching toward more gender-balanced partnerships, with women now at about 15 percent nationally. But several firms have announced promotions that promise to give the statistic a push. San Francisco’s Pillsbury Madison & Sutro L.L.P. and Washington, D.C.’s Howrey & Simon each have named seven new partners; at both firms, four of them are women. Pillsbury’s promotions come as no surprise. Chairwoman Mary Cranston notes that the managing partner and compensation committee chair are women, and more than half of the firm’s offices are headed by women. She says Pillsbury’s history of support has made it easier to boost women’s ranks, now at 18 percent. “Women don’t need special help if they have access,” Cranston says. At Howrey, which also boasts that 18 percent of its partners are women, Marguerite Willis, who co-chairs the women partners marketing initiative, says efforts to increase support for women have paid off. Also helping to even the scales is San Francisco’s Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, which recently announced the promotion of 10 lawyers to partner — half of them women.

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