Cultural revolution – China's emerging ranks of female partners on making it to the top
"Be a rainmaker or don't make partner," says Cheryl Luan, partner in Guantao Law Firm's Beijing office. In 1979, there were less than 200 licensed lawyers in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and by 2010 China had 206,000 lawyers nationwide. Of those, it is roughly estimated that 22% or 45,000 plus are female. It wasn't until the early '90s that the legal market really started to blossom. Those who have made it to partnership over the last 20 to 30 years are China's first generation of lawyers. They "only have peers, not predecessors", says Shao-Ying Mautner, managing director at GC.GC. And they are not just rainmakers; they are "ground breaking". While it is not possible to ascertain the percentage of female partners in the PRC, there is consensus that although there are equal or even more numbers of women entering the profession, for now their representation at partnership level is significantly lower to men and comparable to the trends found in other countries. At the same time the success and talents of prominent female lawyers in the China region is drawing attention.
As China’s first generation of female lawyers are making partner, Alice Gartland speaks to the rainmakers about what marks them out compared to their US and UK counterparts
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