New Zealand Law Society - Few large law firm leaders are women

Few large law firm leaders are women

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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

Measure Number % Total
Total partners 593  
Women partners 167 28.2%
Total practising certificates 2182  
Women practising certificates 1175 53.8%

The same 20 firms, 9 October 2017

Measure Number % Total
Total partners 570  
Women partners 143 25.1%
Total practising certificates 2088  
Women practising certificates 1071 51.3%

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.

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