The Glass Ceiling Has Been Cracked, but . . .

While women in law have seen the ceiling raised, the glass ceiling still exists. According to the American Bar Association, although women make up more than half of all law school graduates since 2000, the number of women in leadership roles in U.S. law firms is less than half. According to the National Association of Women Lawyers, only 21 percent of all equity partners were female in 2020 and only about 31 percent were non-equity partners. These numbers decline significantly for women of color who make up only four percent of non-equity partners and three percent of equity partners.

While many firms have significantly ramped up their DEI efforts to help address the ceiling, there remain significant challenges for women to break through that last hurdle. To progress in most law firms, you must have the ability to generate significant work for yourself and others. Corporate America is still largely white and male, and key referral sources look the same. This often results in many key relationships being controlled by white men.

Although the ceiling has been raised, and perhaps cracked, it still exists. It is critical for women and men to support women in their efforts to grow their network often by being intentional in selecting women professionals so that they all rise together.