Glass ceiling most apparent in magic circle

Topics: City,Equality and diversity

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Magic circle firms are lagging behind for gender diversity at partnership level, according to research from The Chambers Student Guide.

The benchmark for female partners is 23.3% across all firms surveyed, according to the research.


On average 19.1% of magic circle partners are female. Linklaters was the only firm to score above average, with 24% of its partners female, while Allen & Overy scored the lowest (16%). 

Regional firms dominated the top 20 for gender diversity. The only London firms near the top are private client outfits and US firms with small partnerships, said Chambers.

All the magic circle firms score below average for associate gender diversity, averaging 49.1%. The average representation for female associates is 56.5%.

However, the magic circle scored above the 5.6% average for ethnic diversity at partnership level. The firms reported an average representation of 6.52%. Allen & Overy had the highest representation at 9%, while Freshfields had the lowest at 3%.  

Four of the five magic circle firms feature in the top 25 for associate diversity. 

‘This can probably be put down these firm’s consistent hiring of candidates who come from overseas or have an international background,’ said the report.  

Of the 105 firms surveyed, human rights firm Leigh Day scored highest for the number of female partners (65%), and ethnic diversity at partnership level (31%). 

Readers' comments (4)

  • Doubtless there are valid reasons why women are under-represented at partnership level in any firm - regardless of size - as this is not just a statistical issue. However, it is not too many years ago that I was sitting with my usual companions in on the daily commute in the First Class compartment of train when one of our group - a very senior partner at a Magic Circle firm announced; "There will never be any women partners at our firm while I am here." That glass ceiling shattered 2 years later but is an example of an attitude that sadly still prevails with some. The City still has a way to go to become a true meritocracy.

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  • Could it be that some women have children and have less time to dedicate to their careers?

    If so, I agree with the Gazette's suggestion that we must find these women and remove them immediately, so that we may have an equal 50% male/female partner split.

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  • Never been able to afford first class retail travel myself! And there were benefits to not being a partner, especially when the proverbial hit the fan.

    Oh we'll, TGIF!

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  • When I had my small, 'sole practitioner' practice I employed 9 people two of whom were men and seven ladies. I never had any complaints from either group about inequaliy. I never even thought about it and I am quite sure they didn't either. If you look after employees properly they will look after you, after all their jobs depend upon it.....and so does yours.

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