They thought I was an assistant. Women in law still struggle with prejudice

What is the representation of women in law firms?

Having a child might slow down a woman’s career in Slovakia.Having a child might slow down a woman’s career in Slovakia. (Source: TASR)

Motherhood comes with the risk that the attorney will not have sufficient time to build her own clientele, or will lose the clientele she had built before going on maternity leave. Successful attorneys recommend that women maintain contact with law firms during maternity leave and that male lawyers go on parental leave to discover how a few months out of the office affects their expertise.

There are over 42 percent of women, including attorneys, working for the largest law firms in Slovakia. There are significant differences between individual firms, and it is not the case that only large transnational law firms automatically have a gender-balanced team.

This stems from data the 43 largest law firms in Slovakia provided to the Sme daily and The Slovak Spectator.

It is not clear if the representation of women among Slovak attorneys is on the rise or decline because there is no systematic tracking of data. The data that appears from time to time comes from different sources, may not be consistent, and is thus hard to compare.

The Better Attorneys Initiative (Iniciatíva za Lepšiu Advokáciu) published data in 2016, showing that women in the 50 largest law firms in Slovakia comprised 45 percent of their employees, but only about 10 percent in partner positions.
The 2020 data from the Lexis Nexis analytical company suggests that among law firms in the US, the representation of women attorneys is about 40 percent, while only about 25 percent hold the position of partners.

For the first time in the five years, they have been compiling rankings of the largest law firms, Sme and The Slovak Spectator also asked law firms about the representation of women among their staff. We will monitor and publish this data in the future.

“Equal opportunities is an important issue and data is essential to lead an honest debate about it, to show over time what is the trend in the representation of women among attorneys, what the causes may be,” said Ján Pallo, publisher of The Slovak Spectator. “They can also help lawyers in their considerations on whether they want to apply for a job in a more female, more male, or a gender-balanced team.”


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