Economic incentives are needed to challenge the gender gap in law

Aviva Will, Co-COO, Burford Capital

 IWD 2021

The business of law has been frustratingly slow to close its gender gap, most evident in the fact that women make up less than 20% of equity partners at top law firms in the US and the UK.

At Burford Capital - the world’s largest legal finance provider - we provide an economic incentive to help close the gender gap in law through The Equity Project, which launched with a $50 million pool of capital earmarked to finance commercial litigation and arbitration matters led by women.

In the law firm context, bringing in new business is imperative for long-term success, career advancement and higher levels of remuneration, and The Equity Project provides women the ability to offer client-friendly terms and risk-sharing - which can be a competitive advantage in new business that helps them build their books of business.

In May 2020, Burford commissioned the 2020 Equity Project study - a report based on interviews with 77 general counsel and senior in-house lawyers - to better understand how companies can use their 'power of the purse' to incentivize change at the law firms they hire. Among the findings: 60% of general counsel say gender diversity influences their law firm hiring decisions.

To truly move the needle on gender parity, businesses must #ChoosetoChallenge the status quo. Law firm clients exercise their influence to encourage law firms to promote more women into leadership roles. And law firms and companies alike can leverage economic incentives like The Equity Project to quicken the pace of change.



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