Women in Leadership: A Complicated Census

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Answering our simple question of how many women partners are serving in top leadership roles was far from easy. The broad spectrum of management and governance structures among The Am Law 100 makes side-by-side comparisons challenging. To narrow our scope, we asked firms to list only female leaders serving as managing partners or firm chairs, as members of the firm’s primary governance and compensation committees, as practice group leaders, and as office leaders.

We allowed firms to include up to two governance committees if they were of roughly equal power and importance, but for consistency, we listed the smallest committee first. We counted only partners, excluding nonlawyer CFOs or COOs, but we reported the gender split for each committee separately—if the same partner served on a governance and compensation committee, that individual was included in both committees’ counts.

We gave firms latitude in defining practice leaders, allowing firms to include department, practice, or even subpractice leaders. Since it was not uncommon to have two partners coleading a practice or office (or one person overseeing multiple practices or offices), we calculated proportions based on total head count. (To view the survey results in list form, click here.) — Amy Kolz

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