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Abstract

This Article seeks to reframe and turn the conversation about gender equity in the legal profession on its head, taking up Hannah Brenner’s recent call to reconceptualize problems and rethink solutions around gender equity in the profession. It does so by moving beyond the frame of the retention of women and exploring selected aspects of the gendered practices of men in relation to this notion of the ideal legal professional in large transnational “city” law firms. The Article traces how particular ideas about men and gender are, on closer examination, implicated in a broader recasting of lawyer professionalism within the increasingly hypercompetitive field of corporate legal practice. The discussion is primarily focused on the United Kingdom and what is more commonly termed “big law” in the United States. It is in this area that initiatives to tackle problems around work-life balance and well-being appear most developed and policies and concerns about gendered workplace cultures and practices have come under most scrutiny. The broader themes addressed, however, have wider resonance for the legal profession.