Year in and year out, we watch law firm after law firm pay lip service to their commitment to diversity in the legal profession, with promises to put women attorneys on equal footing with their male counterparts, whether it be through hiring and retaining more women attorneys, promoting more women attorneys to equity partnership ranks, providing more leadership positions to women attorneys, or adopting more family-friendly policies to ensure that women attorneys are able to excel at their jobs while maintaining a stable work/life balance. Despite these continued assurances, and despite the fact that a number of firms have made great efforts to improve women’s stature in the law, there is still more to be done.
Today, Working Mother released its annual list of the 60 Best Law Firms for Women (that’s 10 more law firms than last year’s list). These law firms are considered pioneers in the field when it comes to attracting, retaining, and promoting women lawyers. These law firms not only stand out as being family-friendly workplaces, but they also ensure that women shine in their equity partnership ranks.
With on-campus interview season coming up soon, these law firms are places you might want to work. Which firms made the cut for this year’s ranking?
To earn themselves a spot on the Working Mother Best Law Firms list, self-selected applicant firms with 50 or more lawyers must complete an extensive application (more than 300 questions long) with topics ranging from attorney representation, schedule flexibility, paid time off and parental leaves, and development and retention of women. Working Mother then selected the 60 best firms based on data provided by those firms from the year 2017. According to Meredith Bodgas, editor-in-chief of Working Mother, “The law firms that make Working Mother’s list are remarkable for their long-term commitment to retaining and promoting women lawyers. One hundred percent of these firms provide flexible work arrangements and 57 percent of them offer sponsorship programs for high-potential women lawyers. That’s resulted in a jump in the number of women equity partners to 21 percent.”
Here are some of the interesting results gleaned from Working Mother’s study:
• Several firms offer generous parental leave policies. One firm, for example, offers a gender-neutral parental-leave policy, giving all lawyers and professionals 26 weeks off with up to 18 weeks at full pay.
• Another firm created a formal sponsorship program that identifies junior women and ethnically diverse attorneys and pairs them with senior firm members; that same firm began offering to ship home breast milk for attorneys who travel for work.
• Backup care and in-home care for family members of all ages, from infant through elderly, is offered by a firm, where up to 80 hours may be used at an affordable rate.
• At one of the firms, a Balanced Hours employee-resource group provides guidance on mentoring and development of attorneys with reduced hours
Women have made great progress at Biglaw firms in recent years, but which firms have been most receptive to their advancement? On average, almost half of associates and more than a third of partners at thee firms are women, while one-fifth of equity partners are women. Here’s the list of the 60 Best Law Firms for Women in 2018:
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
Baker & Hostetler
Barnes & Thornburg
Chapman and Cutler
Crowell & Moring
Davis Wright Tremaine
Debevoise & Plimpton
Dorsey & Whitney
Drinker Biddle & Reath
Faegre Baker Daniels
Fenwick & West
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
Fish & Richardson
Foley & Lardner
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Fredrikson & Byron
Gray Plant Mooty
Holland & Hart
Hunton Andrews Kurth
Katten Muchin Rosenman
King & Spalding
Kirkland & Ellis
Latham & Watkins
Marshall, Gerstein & Borun
McDermott Will & Emery
Morrison & Foerster
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
O’Melveny & Myers
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Quarles & Brady
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
Shook, Hardy & Bacon
Steptoe & Johnson
Vinson & Elkins
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis
For analysis of issues pertaining to women in the Biglaw workforce by the numbers — like percentage of equity partners who are women, percentage of new hires who are women, and whether firms offer formal sponsorship for high-potential women lawyers — click here to see the study’s aggregate data summary.
Congratulations are in order for all of the firms returning to the list this year, as well as the firms that are new to the 2018 list. Way to represent your women attorneys!
For what it’s worth, some firms that placed on the Yale Law Women’s list of the Top 10 Most Family-Friendly Firms were nowhere to be found on this year’s list. Similarly, 21 firms that received Gold Standard certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, an achievement measuring benchmarks in women’s power, pay, and prestige, were left off of this year’s list entirely. Last, but certainly not least, a handful of firms from Law360’s Glass Ceiling Report — the firms with the with the highest ratio of female equity partners to male equity partners in the United States — were excluded from this year’s list. This is problematic for several reasons.
As hard as it is to find a Biglaw firm that will promote a respectful number of women to partnership, pay them handsomely, and offer family-friendly benefits — all at the same time — it’s apparently even harder to find a list that will measure all of those important characteristics at once. Women are presented with financial rankings, family-friendly rankings, and one ranking that purports to cover both of those areas but fails to capture all of the data available.
We’ve made this suggestion a few times in the past, but it bears repeating: Please, please get together to compare notes with all of the women in law affinity groups that publish law firm rankings. Young women still in law school are using these lists for guidance when starting their Biglaw careers, and it can get very confusing. Please consider this before you roll out next year’s lists — because if you don’t come up with an optimal ranking system, someone else will.
Now we’ll turn this discussion over to our readers. If your firm didn’t make the cut, do you think it should have? If your firm did make the cut, was it deserved? What can be done to improve work/life balance for women and working mothers? If you’d like to let us know what you think, you can email us, text us at (646) 820-8477, or tweet us @atlblog. Congratulations to all of the law firms that made this important ranking!
The 2018 Working Mother 60 Best Law Firms for Women [Working Mother]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Published at Tue, 31 Jul 2018 15:49:31 +0000