Why don't more women make it to equity partner status in BigLaw?

The legal trade publication I work for, Law360, is in the midst of a series about women in law based on some data we gathered over the last few months. The data, as you might expect, is not super encouraging if you are hoping for gender parity in one of the nation's most lucrative and powerful industries.

I can't give too much away here (that's what people buy subscriptions for!) but I wanted to quickly make note of something I discovered about the uphill battle to achieving equity partnership at a BigLaw firm while reporting my contribution to the series.

The biggest takeaway for me was this: while there is certainly the sense that women have a disproportionate burden to make the choice between family and a successful career — and in BigLaw as in other high-intensity careers that is indeed a choice many women feel they have to make — and this is likely a major reason that only a small percentage of equity partners are women, it's only part of the story.

The bigger issue may be that women are blocked early in their careers from some of the vital client-making opportunities that their male counterparts have access to, often simply because some men still don't feel comfortable mentoring, working with or giving credit to female attorneys.

To see what female equity partners and experts believe is behind the persistence of these ideas, check out the story — and others in the series by my colleagues, complete with our numbers on women in BigLaw at the 400 largest U.S. firms — here.