More Female Lawyers Opt for In-House Roles in Asia and Middle East

May 27, 201610:20 am724 views

Study conducted in Asia and Middle East finds it is harder for more female lawyers to move into private practice in emerging markets. Women are still second to men across most jurisdictions.

In-House Community released the findings of its latest study, which reveals there are more female in-house lawyers across Asia and the Middle East than men. The results suggest that it is easier for female lawyers to move into an in-house role and attain a senior position, than in private practice.

The data was compiled from interviews conducted in 2015 with over 2,600 In-House Community members in 12 jurisdictions, from the United Arab Emirates to Tokyo. In-House Community is an organisation that helps In-House Counsel and Compliance Professionals meet their ethical, legal and business commitments.

26 May 2016_Male & Female Percentage 2015-2

Kuala Lumpur leads the way with the highest percentage of female lawyers in-house (74%) and in private practice (72.3%). Following closely behind, China has 67.8% of female lawyers working in private practice and in Ho Chi Minh City, 60% of female lawyers work in-house.

In Hong Kong, a higher percentage of female lawyers work in private practice (61.7%) than in-house, compared with other developed Asian countries, such as Singapore and Seoul. Yet, in Hong Kong, there is still a higher percentage of female lawyers working in-house compared to men.

While in-house is certainly an attractive alternative to private practice, women are still second to men across most jurisdictions when it comes to taking the senior in-house role as head of legal, with 41% of female members in top leadership positions in legal, across Asia and the Middle East, compared to 59% of male delegates.

Despite this, the proportion of women in senior in-house roles across Asia and the Middle East is much larger than women who make partner in the traditional career path provided by private practice. According to legal recruiter Taylor Root, 75% of partners in law firms are male.

Yvette Tan, Head of Development at In-House Community said, “The option of a career as an in-house lawyer in Asia and the Middle East is relatively new, with a history of about 20 years or so. For the moment at least, more women hold these in-house roles. At this relatively early stage in the profession in Asia, in-house lawyers can aspire to top positions, hopeful that family responsibilities and gender are unlikely to be a barrier to advancement based on merit.

“However, 30 years ago in the early days of the technology industry, women also comprised a high percentage of the workforce. This has been whittled down to less than 10%, so there is no room for complacency.”

 

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