IWD 2020: Celebrating Women in Law

#EachforEqual #IWD20 #GenerationEquality

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EachforEqual, highlighting that “an equal world is an enabled word”. We take this opportunity to reflect on how far the legal industry has come to provide fair opportunities for women to progress in their careers. It’s encouraging to see many law firms focusing on questions of equality and equal treatment in the workplace, and we look forward to seeing further advancements.

We are proud to celebrate the achievements of female lawyers who have been elected into positions of leadership. As Teresa Cheng pointed out in her 2019 article[1]about gender bias and the legal profession, there are 11,000 solicitors in Hong Kong, about 60% trainees are women, but only 28% end up in senior leadership positions or as the head of a law firm. It is truly inspiring for young ambitious female lawyers who are working towards management positions to see that our industry is making progress to provide such opportunities, and we applaud these amazing women for paving the way.

We also applaud the firms for their efforts in promoting Diversity and Gender Equality:-

  • Allen & Overy has been announced as one of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women for its consistent commitment to creating inclusive workplace cultures and progressing women in the workplace across the entire organization. (2019)
  • Ashurst has been awarded the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation for the 18th consecutive year. (2019)
  • Baker McKenzie rolled out agile working across its global network. (2016)
  • Charltons, a leading Hong Kong boutique firm, was recognized at the Euromoney Legal Media Group’s Asia Women in Business Law Awards for its commitment to retaining female talent in the legal profession, and their commitment. (2012 & 2013)
  • DLA Piper‘s Employment & Pensions group launched a survey of the gender pay gap in different UK sectors, to mark the implementation of the new Gender Pay Gap Regulations.
  • Hogan Lovells won the “Best Gender Diversity Initiative by an International Law Firm” , at the Euromoney Women in Business Awards 2018 in Hong Kong. (2018)
  • K&L Gates has promoted 20 of its lawyers in Australia to senior positions, with 3 of its 4 new partners being women who work part-time[2]. (2020)
  • Latham & Watkins was named a “2017 Best Law Firm for Women” by Working Mother Magazine. (2017)
  • Linklaters launched HeForShe initiative in which male leaders and partners joined the UN’s movement and made bold commitments to achieve gender equality in the firm’s global network.  (2018)
  • Morgan Lewis allow its UK and US lawyers to work from home for up to two days a week[3]. (2017)
  • Reed Smith won the Commendation for Diversity award at the LawCareers.Net (LCN) Training & Recruitment Awards for its Women’s Initiative Network that helps its members navigate career transitions and challenges, such as work-life balance and partner promotions. (2018)

We are glad to see many firms have started making efforts to improve diversity at a senior and global level. Diversity plays an essential role in bolstering individual talents against bias, leading economies and communities to thrive.


[1] Alvin Lum, “Gender bias a problem in Hong Kong’s legal profession, justice minister Teresa Cheng says on International Women’s Day,” Hong Kong, SCMP, 8 March 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/2189275/gender-bias-problem-hong-kongs-legal-profession-justice (accessed on 26 February, 2020)

[2] Sol Dolor, “New partners are among 20 senior promotions announced by the firm in Australia”, Australia, AustralAsian Lawyer, 26 Feb 2020, https://www.thelawyermag.com/au/news (accessed on 3 Mar 2020)

[3] Bethany Wren, “A picture of (in)equality: what does the legal profession look like for women in 2019?”, LawCareers.Net, 6 Aug 2019, https://www.lawcareers.net/Explore/Features/12032019-A-picture-of-inequality-what-does-the-legal-profession-look-like-for-w (accessed on 3 Mar 2020)


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