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August 13, 2015 Practice Points

More Female Attorneys Score Top Rainmaker Spots

By Angela A. Turiano

As reported by Law360, the latest Best Law Firms for Women survey (Survey) released by Working Mother Media and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC revealed that there is an increase in female rainmakers in the BigLaw arena.

Specifically, the Survey found that 16 percent of 50 recognized firms reported three women among their top 10 rainmakers, a notable increase from the 11 percent of firms reporting the same ratio in the previous year. (That being said, the Survey found an additional 25 percent of these firms reported two women in that group, a decrease from 29 percent in the previous year).

Experts suggest that public recognition of female lawyers as top revenue generators could have a positive ripple effect on the careers of other female lawyers. Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder of the OnRamp “returnship” fellowship program for female lawyers, opines that because female rainmakers have greater overall authority and influence on firm practices, including partner promotions and bonuses, as well as the ability to assign work to chosen mentees, having more of them will result in increased clout for women in BigLaw generally. Further, according to Flex-Time Lawyers President Deborah Epstein Henry, industry data suggests that firms with higher concentrations of female lawyers as top revenue generators tend to have smaller gaps between compensation for male and female partners and better pay equity at the firm overall.

These “ripple effects” are especially noteworthy, experts say, “in a profession struggling with stubborn gender divides in compensation and talent loss.”

However, the Survey also revealed that female attorneys did not make comparable strides in other arenas of BigLaw. For example, the percentage of female equity partners represented in the annual survey has been essentially flat since 2008.

Moreover, there are experts who warn against over-emphasizing the rainmaker label. Roberta Liebenberg of Fine Kaplan and Black RPC and the co-author of a recent report on thelack of gender diversity among lead trial counsel states that, as a woman, being a top revenue generator does not necessarily translate into a bigger paycheck as it often does for many men. 

Liebenberg went on to say that you have to look beyond the tag of rainmaker and determine what is really going on at the firm with regard to compensation gaps among women and their male colleagues, as well as billing rates, political clout and overall leadership opportunities for women as compared to men.

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, rainmaker, BigLaw, survey, Working Mother Media, Flex-Time Lawyers LLC

Angela A. Turiano works at Bressler, Amery & Ross, LLC in New York, New York

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