Women Take the Lead as Majority of Associates at U.S. Law Firms, Breaking 30-Year Record

Denver, CO – In a groundbreaking development, women have now become the majority of associates at law firms in the United States for the first time in over 30 years. This milestone was revealed in the annual report published by the National Association-Law Placement (NALP), which analyzed data from the 2023 NALP’s Directory of Legal Employers.

According to the report, 50.3 percent of all U.S. law firm associates in 2023 were women. This represents a significant shift in the legal profession and marks a momentous achievement for gender diversity in the industry.

The report also highlighted the progress made by women in achieving partnership positions. The percentage of women holding partnership positions increased to 27.76%, an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the previous year. This is the largest year-to-year increase in female partner representation that NALP has recorded so far.

Despite these gains, the report indicated that the percentage of female associates still remains nearly double that of partners. This signals the ongoing challenge of achieving gender parity in the highest levels of leadership within law firms.

In addition to gender diversity, the report also examined racial and ethnic diversity within law firm associates. The percentage of associates of color increased to 30.15% in 2023, representing a 1.8 percentage point increase from the previous year. Notably, both Black and Latina women accounted for at least 1% of all partners for the first time. However, women of color still make up less than 5% of all partners.

It is worth noting that despite the positive trend in racial diversity among associates, the percentage of associates of color experienced a slight dip for the first time since 2017, according to NALP data.

These findings shed light on the progress that has been made in promoting diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. However, they also serve as a reminder that there is still work to be done to ensure equal representation and opportunities for all individuals in law firms across the country.

In conclusion, women now constitute the majority of associates at law firms for the first time in over three decades, according to the latest report by the National Association-Law Placement. This significant development highlights the strides made in achieving gender diversity within the legal profession but also underscores the need for continued efforts to promote inclusivity at all levels of leadership.