Bird & Bird to pilot female lawyer training programme

UK firm Bird & Bird is set to pilot a training programme aimed at boosting the number of women in its partnership.

As part of the programme, female associates and counsel will get extra support as they go through the same selection process as their male counterparts.

The firm will offer coaching based on feedback from female partners and lawyers on the main factors affecting female career progression, though the details of exactly what this will entail are yet to be finalised.

The pilot is due to begin this autumn and run for 12 months.

So far, eight lawyers have expressed an interest in participating across the UK, Europe and Asia, while others are being approached.

Bird & Bird HR director Jonathan Nichols said: “We have got a higher proportion of women at associate and counsel level. We are focusing on helping them get into partnership.

“We’re making sure they’ve got the right mentors and exploring the skillsets that can really help in their career development.”

The move comes after the firm only made up one female partner in a nine-strong global promotions round in May this year. In 2015, it promoted three lawyers, including one woman.

This year, there has been a dropoff in the number of women promoted to partner at a host of top firms. For example, Allen & Overy promoted six, down from nine; Linklaters promoted five, down from seven; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer promoted five, down from six; and Norton Rose Fulbright promoted 12, down from 19.