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We Can Do Better With Diversity, BigLaw Says

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

One problem with being a leader is that people expect more out of you.

Just ask the guys at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. They have 12 new partners, and 11 of them are men.

In a law firm announcement, a photo shows the group of men and the one woman. Others are asking: "Where did you put the rest of the women?"

We Can "Do Better"

Traditionally, the big law firm has rated among the top 25 most diverse in the country. American Lawyer has ranked Paul Weiss near the top for 15 years in a row.

But after a public outcry about the new partner profile, Paul Weiss said the firm can "do better." Chairman Brad Karp said the gender imbalance "resulted from an idiosyncratic demographic pool and which I can assure you will not be repeated."

Michelle Fang, chief legal officer at car-sharing company Turo, is one outspoken critic. Other law firm announcements "probably look pretty similar," she said, adding that corporate counsel should reward law firms the champion diversity.

"White males don't have a monopoly on talent," she said in the ABA Journal.

Balancing Out

It has been difficult -- especially for large, older firms -- to balance out partnerships. But as senior partners retire and law firms evolve, some big firms are finding a way.

Cravath Swaine & Moore, for example, announced an all-women partnership class for 2018. It is not the first time; the firm promoted three women and no men to partners in 2016.

Faiza Saeed, the first female to lead the firm, said the new partners are "highly skilled and talented lawyers." They are active in the firm's diversity efforts, she said, and have been involved in student recruitment and associate mentorship.

Twenty-three percent of the partners at Cravath are women. Two thirds of the firm's last three partnership classes have been female.

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