Accessibility Links

Diversity still in question at the magic circle

Posted by: Laurence Simons 21/05/13

One disadvantage the legal magic circle has compared to the magic circle actually composed of sorcerers, wizards and enchantresses is that the latter - thanks to its notorious codes of omerta - is not subject to the same kind of diversity scrutiny as the former.

Unfortunately, this is just how it is, and the quintet of UK-based firms have once again had their commitment to improving diversity challenged after new figures suggested only 13 women were appointed partner worldwide over the last 12 months.

Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance promoted four women between them from a total of 39, with three from Freshfields and five from Linklaters, reports Legal Weekly.

Gay Collins, a spokeswoman for the 30% Club, which brings together leaders of firms to promote diversity, suggested that major barriers to improving female representation include cultural practices and established procedures that keep women away from the top tier of the legal world.

"This issue is vital for law firms - think of how much better they would be if they didn't lose talent they've invested in for the last ten years," he added.

The fundamental aim of his organisation is to ensure that 30 per cent of top staff at law firms are women by 2020 - if this target is to be hit, six in every ten new partners will need to be female over the next seven years.

Perhaps the legal profession needs to seek some help from the other magic circle if it is to fulfil its diversity aims, unless a major change in culture is to occur and more flexible working measures brought to bear on the sector.