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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee.

Are Indian law firms gender diverse? We took a look at the top 50 law firms as per RSG rankings of 2019. 

We went to their websites, and took a look at how many men v. women are partners in those law firms. Of course, the websites do to identify partners by their gender, but we took the liberty to assume what gender they are from based on traditional markers such as name and pictures. We have assumed they are either men or women, and we have no data available, based on enquiries (we spoke to lawyers at some of these firms), that there are partners of third gender or any partner who identify themselves as belonging to any other gender. 

In several cases, the websites did not list the partners at all. In that case, we tried to look into other resources such as brochures and firm profiles circulated during office retreats, but we decided to finally not include such data as we were not sure regarding currentness and accuracy of such information.

We also wanted to gather data of how many candidates of different genders are hired at the ground level – fresher recruitment. However, gathering that data proved much harder.

It is not impossible that some of the data may be outdated as partners leave and join law firms all the time and websites may not be updated.

If there are any inaccuracies with respect to details we collected about your firm, please feel free to reach out and let us know. We would immediately correct the report.

We were able to gather some interesting data

Based on our findings, we have classified the firms into different groups. Some of the firms had a majority of women partners. Others had a fair share of women partners, while some of the largest law firms had very few women partners, and most of the partners were men. 

This report is not intended to pass any judgment on any of the firms. We are simply drawing obvious inferences based on the data these law firms have put out in the public domain. 

We hope this report would help the law firm leaderships to reflect on where they stand in the matter of gender diversity and how they could move forward. We hope that it may also help gender justice researchers looking at the legal profession. 

The matter of diversity should not be restricted to gender diversity, and could possibly be expanded to other parameters such as disability, caste, economically backward sections, state of origin, religion, age etc. 

Diversity is not meant to help people from weaker sections alone, but it makes any organisation stronger and smarter. We can definitely expect an organisation with a high level of diversity to be smarter and draw upon varied wisdom and cultural knowledge.

Also, an organization with diverse leadership is more likely to attract talented young lawyers from a wider talent pool.

Firms that enable diversity and encourage career growth of lawyers placed in difficult situations must be recognised and encouraged. We hope an organisation with requisite expertise will start an award program to encourage law firm diversity. 

LawSikho will be happy to support any such initiative in any way we can.

We intend to do similar research about Indian judiciary, looking at the number of judges from different genders as per available data. We are exploring if we could do similar research on other areas of legal profession such as public prosecutor appointments, government law officers as well as appointment of law officers by PSUs. It is relatively easier to get data of this kind from government departments, thanks to RTI!

Please do share more ideas for surveys and research of this kind with us, and we will be very happy to carry them out wherever feasible. 

Let’s jump into the information we found and couldn’t find.

Firms for which data could not be availed

  1. Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas
  2. L & L Partners
  3. Nishith Desai Associates
  4. DSK Legal
  5. Platinum Partners
  6. Desai & Diwanji
  7. Fox Mandal
  8. Majumdar & Partners
  9. Juris Corp
  10. Tatva Legal
  11. Spice Route Legal
  12. Lawyers at Work Law
  13. Krishnamurthy & Co

The names on their current partners are not available on their respective websites or any other authoritative sources.

We will request these firms to share their data with us and we will update our list once we get those details. 

Law firms with less than 5 partners

This is a special category, as it is not fair to compare a law firm with 2-4 partners with larger firms. In a very small sample size, data can be misleading. However, for the purpose of transparency, we are putting out this data as well.   

S.No.

Law Firm

Total partners

Male

Female

Female percentage

1

Advaita Legal

2

2

0

0

2

ZBA

2

1

1

50

3

Vertices Partner

4

3

1

25

4

Pioneer Legal

4

3

1

25

5

Singularity

1

1

0

0

7

Novo Juris Legal

1

0

1

100

Rest of the firms (with 5 or more partners)

Average percentage share of women in partnership roles in 31 top Indian law firms (with 5 or more partners) that we could find data for, stands near 28%. 

The average of 28% of women partners in law firms in India shows an upward shift, when compared to the average number of women leaders in India generally. It would appear that Indian law firms are more gender diverse than the rest of the industry that these firms serve.

According to Grant Thorton’s Women in Business: Beyond Policy to Progress report, the number of women in leadership positions in India stood at 17 per cent in 2017 and witnessed a steady growth to 20 per cent in 2018. 

Moreover, the proportion of female partners in the top 10 UK law firms is 18% according to a 2017 survey by professional services firm PwC, and only 19% in the next 15 firms. 

Based on the national average of around 20% and a similar figure in the share of women partners in UK law firms, it is safe to assume that Indian law firms whose women partnership share is below 20% lag behind in diversity when compared to the market average. 

Compared to this, the 31 firms included in our data from the RSG top 50 firms show superior diversity as far as share of women partners is concerned. The highest percentage of women partners was around 80%, in three firms in this list, while there are less than 10% women partners in only three firms. 

11 law firms lag behind the market average with the share of women partners below 20%.

Categorisation of law firms based on the share of women partners and directors

The total number of partners in these 31 firms is 935 while the total women partners amongst them are 259. Law firms like Dhaval Vussonji & Associates, Ahlawat & Associates and Samvad Partners are examples of women leadership with their share of women partners nearing 80%. Amongst the larger firms, S&R’s share of women partners nears 50%, AZB 33.6%, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas 29.5%, JSA 26%, Trilegal 18.9% and Khaitan & Co. 14.2%.

Exemplars (More than 55% women partners)

S.No.

Law Firm

Total partners

Male

Female

Female percentage

1

Dhaval Vussonji & Associates

5

1

4

80

2

Ahlawat & Associates

5

1

4

80

3

Samvad Partners

14

3

11

78.6

Tier 1 (45 to 55 % women partners)

S.No.

Law Firm

Total partners

Male

Female

Female percentage

4

S & R Associates

16

8

8

50

5

Rajani Associates

10

5

5

50

6

Trust Legal

6

3

3

50

7

Anand & Anand

29

15

14

48.2

8

ALMT Legal

20

11

9

45

Tier 2 (35 to 45 % women partners)

S.No.

Law Firm

Total partners

Male

Female

Female percentage

9

Kochhar & Co

50

31

19

38

10

Singhania and Partners

16

10

6

37.5

11

Argus Partners

17

11

6

35.3

Tier 3 (25 to 35 % women partners)

S.No.

Law Firm

Total partners

Male

Female

Female percentage

12

AZB & Partners

113

75

38

33.6

13

Bharucha & Partners

12

8

4

33.3

14

IndusLaw

46

31

15

32.6

15

CAM

95

67

28

29.5

16

TT & A

7

5

2

28.6

17

J. Sagar Associates

104

77

27

26

18

HSA

27

20

7

26

Tier 4 (0 to 25 % women partners)

S.No.

Law Firm

Total partners

Male

Female

Female percentage

19

JM + P

5

4

1

20

20

ARA Law

5

4

1

20

21

Trilegal

53

43

10

18.9

22

LKS

45

38

7

15.6

23

Phoenix Legal

13

11

2

15.4

24

Vaish Associates Advocate

13

11

2

15.4

25

Link Legal

14

12

2

14.3

26

Veritas Legal

7

6

1

14.3

27

Khurana & Khurana

7

6

1

14.3

28

Khaitan & Co

141

121

20

14.2

29

Khaitan & Khaitan

9

8

1

11.1

30

ELP

25

24

1

4

31

Clasis Law

6

6

0

0

*These statistics have been drawn by surveying the websites of these law firms on 10th June, 2020.** 

Limitations of this exercise

Unfortunately, very little data is made available by law firms on diversity issues. We are trying to engage with these law firms one at a time and trying to get more information on various diversity related aspects. The response so far has not been very encouraging but with more time we hope to make some headway.

Law firms also have some challenges in sharing diversity data. For instance, will the employees be open to sharing their religion, caste or sexual orientation, mental disability related data with their employers? Should law firms ask for such data from their lawyers in the first place?

These are some of the more difficult questions.

But there are other more easily available and public data that could be accessed – related to disability, gender and age.

If anyone is willing to help us with any available data, please reach out to us through our website LawSikho.com or please find me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I am not putting out any personal email id in order to avoid being flooded with junk mail.

How gender diverse is LawSikho

When I showed the draft of this article to some of my friends, they asked me this question. Fair enough.

In LawSikho, we have 4 co-founders, 11 departmental heads and 88 full-time employees. 

Out of 4 co-founders, one of us is a woman and the rest are men.

Out of 11 department heads, 6 are men and 5 are women. 

I must acknowledge…

I have received immense help from Monisha Purwar, a final year law student at RMLNLU who not only compiled the data but is to be credited for almost all of the analysis. I also thank Manish Kumar, my colleague at LawSikho for his outreach with several law firms and my friends at various law firms who helped me to get some insight into the diversity issues of the firms where they work.

We hope to expand on this work and do a more comprehensive job soon.

Check out our courses at LawSikho in which we are accepting enrollment:

Diploma

Diploma in English Communication for Lawyers – oratory, writing, listening and accuracy 

Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE and VC transactions)

Executive Certificate Courses

Certificate Course in Real Estate Laws

Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation & Trial Advocacy

Certificate Course in Media and Entertainment Law: Contracts, Licensing and Regulations

Certificate Course in Introduction to Legal Drafting: Contracts, Petitions, Opinions & Articles


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