44-year-old woman, with high technical training who has excelled in her area of expertise and with a career spanning several years at the firm. This is the typical profile of female directors of law firms of national origin with a turnover of more than 20 million euros. They are still few in a position traditionally held by men. Only 20% of the partners of the large law firms (as reported by Cinco Días), and who, therefore, can choose to assume their command, are women. However, this trend is gradually changing, since 15 years ago this percentage barely reached 11%. And it is that, as Juan San Andrés, a coach and consultant specialized in the sector, points out, the situation in large firms is turning around. “Between 66% and 70% of the lawyers who join them each year are women,” he says.
An example of this rare bird is María González Gordon, new co-managing partner as of July 1 of CMS Albiñana & Suárez de Lezo; Rosa Vidal, managing partner of Broseta Abogados since 2016; Cristina Camarero, her counterpart at Ontier Spain since February of this year, and Mabel Klimt, who has directed Elzaburu since 2021.
All of them agree that being a woman has not influenced their careers for better or worse. Merit is the measuring stick. They also point out that to carry out this position the support and trust of the entire team is essential; especially the partners. Mabel Klimt adds family support to this formula for success. “My parents raised me from the perspective that there were no limits to the challenges I wanted to face and my husband is my great advisor,” she says. The lawyer believes that things are changing, but she acknowledges that on several occasions she has been asked for “confirmation of the position that she held in the firm, as if she were waiting for a boss above her.”
Keys to success
Persistence, discipline, perseverance, a dose of self-demand and strict organization and planning are the keys for Rosa Vidal to enter the select club of managing partners of large law firms. In her case, she confesses that her career in the State Attorney’s Office has marked her career, providing her with in-depth knowledge of the public sector and the ability to lead teams, organize and plan work. Her arrival at management began “as a challenge linked to the change in the business management model,” explains the lawyer. A new way of doing things that has catapulted Broseta to ninth place in billing among the country’s large law firms.
For her part, María González highlights the importance of the opportunity to be in the right firm. In this sense, the co-directing partner of CMS Albiñana & Suárez de Lezo points out her joining this firm as the most relevant milestone for her career, where she had to overcome the vertigo of creating a new practice in the firm (intellectual property and digital business). building a team from scratch.
For Cristina Camarero, her appointment as partner in charge of Ontier’s litigation and arbitration area was a before and after. Camarero admits that she felt vertigo when the partners of the firm in which she has grown as a lawyer for 20 years opted for her to take charge of the business and the daily management of the firm. But in the end, she says, she was able to overcome “the illusion and the desire to take on this new challenge.”
Sometimes the support of those closest to you is decisive. The relief process in Elzaburu was not to use. The death of the previous CEO opened a period of reflection that Mabel Klimt was a spectator of until her husband encouraged him to take a step forward: “One day he asked me why I did not present a proposal. I was shocked for two minutes and then I saw it clearly, ”she says.
It does not jump without a net. The mesh for María González has been “to have the support and confidence of all my partners”. For her, “the support, experience and good advice of both César Albiñana and Rafael Suárez de Lezo”, managing partner and managing partner of the firm, respectively, have been especially relevant.
Managing a partnership is not an easy thing. As Juan San Andrés points out, a track record of success, business vision and leadership capable of mobilizing without causing ruptures are needed. It may seem like a cliché, but intuition and empathy are common territory of the female command and listening is one of its star ingredients.
The personal stamp does the rest. Waiter confesses “pragmatic, transparent and sometimes too direct. I think I’m very executive and I like to think efficient”. For González, “the key is naturalness.” The lawyer puts “the focus on energy, demand, empathy and people.” The tenacity that the opposition gave him is Vidal’s trump card, and Klimt’s, the creativity that advising on audiovisual and entertainment projects brings him. In a world of men, the future of female leadership in business law is facing an ambitious challenge. According to San Andrés, the higher dropout rate and the traditional component are delaying the breaking of the famous glass ceiling. But it will come. The managing partners interviewed are convinced that it is a matter of time. It is necessary, concludes Klimt, to continue taking measures for a real conciliation and for women to believe it: “Impostor syndrome outside”.
Managing partners in large law firms are paid based on the number of points or shares they have when they are appointed, explains consultant Juan San Andrés. The leaders maintain their participation —their points— even if they stop bringing clients and usually get a bonus for their management work, says the expert. The figures in large law firms, he points out, “will rarely be below 500,000 euros and the ceiling can reach seven figures.” In smaller firms, with four or five partners, he adds, a remuneration of 250,000 euros is not exceptional. The managing partner of Broseta, Rosa Vidal, assures that “gender is not a factor that makes a difference”.
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