Hey, Ladies! Four Of Five New Sullivan & Cromwell Partners Are Women

Sullivan & Cromwell named its new partners on Wednesday and four of the five are women.

This news made The New York Law Journal, the WSJ Law Blog and Above The Law.

No one is saying this is changing the world (it is not the final smashing of the glass ceiling, said the Law Blog), but it’s making the rounds of the law world, so it has, at the very least, raised some eyebrows.

Whether it really means something or is it just another weird blip in what has been a really weird year for law firms remains to be seen — obviously as more partners are announced at the various firms, we’ll see if this is the year of the woman partner.

But one thing about the announcement piqued our interest.  According to the NYLJ, Rodge Cohen (pictured), firm chairman of S&C, attributed the increase in female partners to policies such as flex-time and longer maternity leaves, programs designed to help retain women attorneys.

So, we wonder, how many of the new female partners are or have been on a flex-time schedule?  And how many current female partners are or have been on a flex-time schedule?  We’ve left messages for S&C’s representative via email and multiple phone calls, and we’ll update you as soon as we have the information.

Currently, 30 out S&C’s 172 partners are women. 

It’s notoriously difficult to actually make partner at law firms – years of dedication and tireless hours are required, and historically women have fallen out of the partner race, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, once they have children.  Offering flexible work schedules is one way firms have tried to alleviate this problem, and women’s groups who evaluate such things often use flex-time availability as a measurement for a firm’s efforts to retain women.

The American Lawyer recently conducted a survey and found that women make up approximately 18% of the partners at the top 200-ranked AmLaw firms.  So if nothing else, 80% of this year’s S&C class being women is definitely well higher than 18%. We’ll have to wait and see where things go from here.

Congrats to the new partners:  Whitney Chatterjee, Marion Leydier (both corporate, New York), Zena Yoslov (Wills & Estates, New York), Sarah Payne (corporate, Palo Alto) and S. Eric Wang (tax, London). Litigators are no doubt noting their lack of representation in this group.  

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