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%).