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Few large law firm leaders are women

06 December 2018 - By Geoff Adlam

Women make up less than 30% of the leaders of New Zealand's largest law firms.

Of the 20 law firms with the most partners, 5 have a women CEO or managing partners, 13 have a male CEO or managing partner, and it is unclear who the leader is for the other two.

This follows news that of the 33 public service department chief executive roles, 17 are now held by women, including acting roles – representing 52% of the total.

The number of women who are partners in the 20 largest firms is growing, but is still just 28.2% of total partners. However, 53.8% of the total practising certificates in the firms are held by women.

The following two tables compare the same 20 firms over the last 14 months. The total number of partners in the firms has grown by 4%, but the number of women partners has grown 16.8%. Similarly, while there has been a 4.5% increase in all lawyers working in the 20 firms, there has been an increase of 9.7% in all women working in them.

Twenty largest law firms by number of partners, 6 December 2018
MeasureNumber% Total
Total partners593 
Women partners16728.2%
Total practising certificates2182 
Women practising certificates117553.8%
The same 20 firms, 9 October 2017
MeasureNumber% Total
Total partners570 
Women partners14325.1%
Total practising certificates2088 
Women practising certificates107151.3%
Women outnumber men in legal profession

At 6 December 2018 there were 13,466 lawyers practising in New Zealand. Of this number, 6,888 (51.1%) were women and 6,578 (48.9%) were men.

The proportion of women in the legal profession continues to increase, with women outnumbering men for the first time in January 2018. Since 1 February 2018, the number of New Zealand-based women lawyers has grown by 5.2%. The number of New Zealand-based male lawyers has increased by 0.5% in that time.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019