The topic of equal opportunities in general for women continue to make headlines around the world and recently the legal sector has tried to catch up. The most prominent law firms around the world have started to discuss how they can widen access and ensure that women have the same chances as men of reaching the top. The situation in Italy is no different, and in this article our consultant Andrea Brugiotti discusses the current state of female lateral hires across the legal sector.
Back in 2012 the EU began to present legislation that would force businesses to hire more women. It suggested that businesses would be obliged to have a certain number of women in the boardroom and occupying the most prominent roles. Historically, Italy has always been behind the rest of Europe on this point, and in 2012 only 6% of the total number of boardroom positions were held by women. The Italian government therefore instigated a law that would require one third of boardroom positions of Italian listed and state owned companies to be held by women by 2015. This was known as the “pink quotas” law. With this kind of pressure, it begs the question of whether or not law firms are trying to follow suit.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that law firms in Italy are following suit, with only a few having women holding their most senior positions. Exceptions to the general situation include Roberta Crivellaro, who heads the Italian offices of Withers, and Leah Dunlop and Fulvia Astolfi, respectively Italian Managing Partner and Managing Partner of the Rome office at Hogan Lovells.
Many argue that an increase in the number of women at partner level within the legal profession is a direct result of the UK and US law firms building businesses in Italy. In the past, many female Italian lawyers would opt to quietly withdraw from the profession to look after their families. With the opening of Magic Circle and US firms in Italy, who have a different vision of the profession, we have seen things start to change slightly. Those women partners with impending maternity leave began to stay at work right up to when their babies were due and started returning to work much more quickly.
Where exactly are those female partners?
The table below gives a snapshot of the number of female partners within different categories of law firms:
|Italian firms ** (%)||UK firms (%)||US firms (%)|