While the number of women in law schools now roughly equals the number of men, the same, unfortunately, does not hold true when it comes to women partners in law firms. The National Association for Law Placement reports that about 17 percent of partners at major law firms are women, up from 13 percent 10 years ago. While that’s progress, the numbers are not increasing as quickly as most of us would like.

Most law firms these days recognize the importance of recruiting and retaining top talent — regardless of gender — particularly in an increasingly competitive job market. Thus, the problem isn’t that law firms aren’t willing or eager to make their women lawyers partners — it’s that so many of the women leave before such promotions can even take place. Studies show that the number of first-year associates at major law firms is generally split evenly between women and men. But beginning in the fourth or fifth year, women depart law firms in greater numbers than men, leaving fewer of them in the partnership pool.

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