BYU Law Review


For the past several decades, women have made up roughly half of law school classes and the ranks of entering law firm associates. Attrition between entry to law firms and partnership results in women comprising 20% to 25% of partners. But is there yet more attrition to the top of the partnership pyramid? Analyzing the past decade of data on publicly filed M&A deals and detailed biographical information of M&A lawyers, we find that women make up fewer than 10% of deal leaders. When we look at the factors that determine who becomes a deal leader, we find that credentials—both educational and professional—matter. But they matter more for women. And one credential—attending a top law school—seems to matter a lot. Using conversations with senior lawyers, we try to get answers for why.


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