Mergers and acquisitions and private equity have traditionally been among the most lucrative areas for lawyers to practice. Just ask the men who have long dominated both.
But while they remain outnumbered, some women dealmakers in Pennsylvania have climbed into leadership roles at their firm's transactional practices. They told The Legal that their success is proof of progress in the industry, even if gender equity is still far off.
A 2016 survey of more than 16,500 lawyers, led by the American Bar Association's Women in M&A Task Force, found that only 16 percent of senior M&A partners were women. Overall, women made up 36 percent of lawyers surveyed, but only 30 percent of M&A lawyers surveyed. That's a slight uptick since 2014, when the task force conducted a similar survey and found that 35 percent of lawyers—and 27 percent of M&A lawyers—were women.
Deal work is big in Pennsylvania. Among all areas of business law, Philadelphia companies are most often billed for M&A work, according to a recent report by Wolters Kluwer's ELM Solutions and CEB. Among Pittsburgh companies, the same survey found, M&A is the second most-billed practice area. The average rates for those practice areas were among the highest in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the report said, surpassed only by other corporate work.
And higher rates often mean higher salaries. According to Major, Lindsey & Africa and ALM Intelligence's 2016 Partner Compensation Survey, corporate partners, which include venture capital, finance and M&A lawyers, had the highest average compensation, at $1.055 million. The same survey found that male partners make 44 percent more than women partners, on average.