International firm Taylor Wessing has become the latest major law firm to set a target figure for women in the partnership.
Last week it announced a programme of initiatives to help it reach a minimum of 25% female representation by 2018. These include a ‘reverse mentoring’ programme and ‘unconscious bias’ training. Earlier this year international firm Herbert Smith Freehills announced a similar target, as a step towards attaining a 30% female partnership by 2019.
Some 13 magic circle and City firms, including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, have also joined the 30% Club, set up in 2010 with the goal of attaining 30% women on the boards of FTSE-100 companies by the end of 2015. The group met last week to share best practice in areas such as sponsorship, work allocation and agile working.
These areas were identified following a 2012 study showing that men were 10 times more likely than women to rise to partner level.
Meanwhile, the Association of Women Solicitors London voted unanimously to widen its membership to include women studying on the graduate diploma in law (GDL), or legal practice course, and any woman seeking a training contract to become a solicitor.
It also introduced an associate membership which includes paralegals, legal executives, lawyers qualified in other jurisdictions, barristers, and students on the Bar Professional Training Course or on the GDL intending to become barristers.
The association’s London chair Margaret Hatwood (pictured), partner at London firm Anthony Gold, said: ‘[I work in family law], which has a good, strong tradition of female lawyers. But there are areas where women are not well represented, such as commercial law. Anything that can be done to [help] career progression will be superb.’
She welcomed the setting of partnership targets, as efforts can otherwise ‘be very vague and unfocused’.