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The Editor of Legal Week wrote a blog highlighting the age old issue of women remaining in the law – or not as the case may be! Alex Novarese, Legal Week’s editor highlights that ‘By most estimates, more than half of the lawyers entering the profession are women, but a commercial law firm that manages to have a 20% female partnership is reckoned to be doing pretty well – over 40% and your managing partner becomes an automatic pundit on female empowerment.’
So are females chances better served working in-house?
The evidence certainly seems to confirm that they are. A quick analyses of the mix between the sexes at the Head of Legal level in organisations across the regions that BCL Legal serve, (North East, Yorkshire, North West and the Midlands) confirms that the female/ male split is very close to the 50:50 mark.
So this poses the following questions about why the split is more equal in-house?
1. Are female lawyers more attracted to the role of an in-house lawyer compared to a comparable private practice role?
2. Are organisations more open to true flexible working patterns and therefore attract more females?
3. Do females make ‘better’ in-house lawyers and therefore more make it to the top?
4. Why are there more males at partner level in private practice? Are law firms an unattractive work place for a large number of females?
One aspect that we at BCL Legal have observed is that in general more females than males make the decision to move in-house at an earlier stage in their career.
Due to the higher number of females entering the in-house world there are more teams made up purely of females. In some cases this can lead to ‘positive discrimination’ when further recruitment is anticipated – where male lawyers are ‘preferred’. In the last two scenarios where this was the case one client added a further female lawyer to the team and one recruited a male – as in both cases the best person for the particular role was recruited!