Magic circle law firm Allen & Overy (A&O) has promoted just two women in its 2018 partnership promotions round, underlining the persistent problem of gender imbalance in the legal sector.
The firm promoted 20 lawyers to its partnership in total, meaning that its 2018 promotions round is 90 per cent male.
Last year the firm’s partnership round was 92 per cent male, with just two women promoted.
The legal sector continues to struggle with gender equality with the partner ranks at elite law firms still heavily male-dominated.
Dana Denis-Smith the founder of First 100 Years, a project marking the history of women in the legal profession, described A&O’s promotion numbers this year as “particularly bad”.
“It is a self-perpetuating problem, men like to cultivate younger men because they identify with them," she said.
Eighteen per cent of A&O’s partnership are women, while at magic circle rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer just 14 per cent of partners are women.
Recent gender pay gap reporting underlined the gender imbalance in the sector with magic circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters announcing that they had mean hourly pay gaps of 66.3 per cent and 60.3 per cent respectively when partner pay was included in the statistics.
Freshfields, A&O and Slaughter and May all refused to include partners in their gender pay gap reporting, despite a growing clamour for increased transparency in the sector.
Competition to reach the partnership ranks at the top firms is fierce, with rich rewards at stake.
Profit per equity partner (PEP) at A&O is £1.51m, rising to £1.54m at Freshfields, £1.56m at Linklaters and an eye-watering £2.35m at Slaughter and May.
A&O has said that 30 per of its partner candidates must be female by 2021 and is working towards a longer-term goal of a 30 per cent female partnership.
Four of the lawyers it promoted this year are based in the City: banking lawyer Hannah Valintine, capital markets lawyer John Kicken, litigation lawyer James Freeman and corporate lawyer Andrew Cork.