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Published March 28, 2024  |  By Caitlin Frenzer and Sarah Hertz Maisel

March is a month of important dates and holidays that recognize women. Not only is March Women’s History Month, but March also includes Equal Pay Day on March 6, and International Women’s Day on March 8. These dates can serve as a reminder to members of the legal community of the progress made for gender equity in the legal profession and the work still left to be done.   

Recent statistics concerning women entering the legal field and private practice indicate positive trends toward gender equity. Currently, women make up the majority of law students in the United States. As of 2022, 55% of law students were women.[1] As of 2020, women made up approximately 47% of law firm associates.[2] Updated data released in 2024 by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) shows that in 2023, 50.3% of associates in the United States were women.[3] This means women are currently going to law school and entering private practice at statistically higher rates than before, and at very similar rates as their male counterparts.   

However, as of 2022, men still made up the majority of licensed attorneys in the legal field, according to the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey.[4] Additionally, the statistics regarding male and female attorney demographics start to diverge after the associate level within private practice. As of 2020, women comprised only 32% of non-equity partners and 22% of equity partners at law firms.[5] In terms of law firm leadership roles, women made up 12% of managing partners, 28% of governance committee members, and 27% of practice group leaders.[6] For women of color, the numbers are worse. According to the 2022 NALP Report on Diversity, only 16.51% of associates are women of color and 4.39% of partners are women of color.[7] 

These statistics should lead those managing and hiring at law firms, including women in the legal field, to ask an important question: Even though women are now entering private practice at a similar rate as men, why are they leaving at higher rates?   

Leopard Solutions published a report in 2022 that examined survey results of women who exited the top 200 firms.[8] The results revealed that 91% of women surveyed were dissatisfied with their jobs.[9] The women surveyed indicated that their primary concerns were work-life balance (85%) and a lack of flexibility (82%), which impacted their decisions to leave their law firms.[10] Child-rearing ranked low among the factors influencing these women’s decisions to leave their law firms, coming in at only 24%.[11] Compensation is also an area of concern that impacts the retention of female attorneys. Women associates and non-equity partners are paid 95% of what their male counterparts are paid, and women equity partners are paid 78% of what male equity partners are paid.[12]  

In 2019, the ABA published an article entitled “Walking Out the Door” that sought to identify the reasons why women are leaving law and what can be done to encourage them to stay.[13] The article reviewed what policies law firms have implemented to provide women opportunities for advancement, and it recommended other strategies for enhancing the work experience to retain experienced women lawyers. Some steps that law firms can take to help keep women and promote gender inclusivity are:   

  • Ensure that firm policies provide equitable advancement opportunities regardless of gender. 

  • Implement strong mentorship programs between senior and junior staff to help support all attorneys. 

  • Amplify women’s voices within the workplace. 

  • Provide workplace training on sexual harassment and implicit bias. 

  • Approve a zero-tolerance policy for gender discrimination. 

  • Hire more women lateral attorneys. 

  • Allow for work flexibility or semi-remote options to relieve the additional pressure of family obligations typically faced by women more than their male colleagues. 

Tressler LLP takes these important steps and has many unique programs that support its women attorneys and staff. Tressler has an all-female Administrative Leadership Team, and women attorneys serve as Chair or Co-Chair of the majority of Tressler’s practice groups. The firm also has a robust mentorship program that encourages growth for associate attorneys. Tressler provides paid parental leave and support structures for attorneys returning to work after expanding their families, including a transition liaison for individual coaching. The firm also offers part-time options for parents so they can continue to progress in their careers while having more time with their families. Tressler’s active Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee hosts a monthly social meeting for its women attorneys to connect and encourage each other. Tressler consistently reviews its policies to ensure that they are equitable and promote the success of all its members.  

Due to these efforts, Tressler is proud to have 54 female attorneys and 43 male attorneys, representing the minority of mid-size law firms with a majority female attorney workforce in the United States. 

While women have made great strides towards equality in the legal profession, there is still work left to be done to keep women in private practice and in leadership positions within law firms. It is up to all attorneys, regardless of gender, to keep pushing forward towards a more equitable future. 

About the Authors

Caitlin Frenzer
Frenzer,-Caitlyn---not-compressed (2)

Caitlin Frenzer is as an associate in Tressler's Government Practice Group. She focuses her practice on providing general counsel services to local governmental bodies. Caitlin represents clients on a variety of matters including zoning, contracts, employment, economic development, intergovernmental agreements, compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and Illinois Open Meetings Act, drafting legislation and policy.

Sarah Hertz Maisel

Sarah Hertz Maisel is a partner in Tressler's Insurance Practice Group and focuses her practice on a wide range of insurance coverage analyses and litigation.  She represents insurance companies in complex coverage litigation pending throughout the country in both state and federal courts.  These actions involve various coverage lines, including commercial general liability, professional liability, management liability, excess exposures and extracontractual liability.  She also has significant experience in defending underlying claims including handling matters through mediation, arbitration and trial.


[1] ABA Profile of the Legal Profession 2023 (

[2] Id. 


[4]ABA 2022 National Lawyer Population Survey (

[5]  National Association of Women Lawyers Annual Survey Reports (

[6] Id.


[8] Leopard Solutions, Women Leaving the Law (2022)(

[9] Id. 

[10] Id. 

[11] Id. 

[12] ABA Profile of the Legal Profession 2023 (

[13] Walking Out the Door, 2019 (

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