In light of Ms. X’s epic departure memo highlighting the chaos involved in juggling parenting and Biglaw hours, many women in similar situations have been questioning their own work/life balance. Can women still have it all? And if they can’t, can they at least have a little bit of it? Is that really so much to ask for?
Luckily, and just in the nick of time, Working Mother magazine partnered with Flex-Time Lawyers to release its annual list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. When compiling this list, both organizations strive to include firms that make the legal profession more “family friendly” by offering both flexible hours and reduced schedules, while at the same time ensuring that a respectable percentage of women attain equity partnership.
So which firms made the cut? Interestingly, only two firms from Vault’s top ten list of the most prestigious firms in the country made this year’s list. Let’s find out which ones….
Before we get to the list, let’s take a look at the methodology behind it. From Working Mother:
The 2012 Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers 50 Best Law Firms for Women application includes more than 300 questions about workforce representation; time off and leaves; child care; flexibility; leadership, compensation and advancement of women; and development and retention of women. It surveys female presence, roles, policies, programs and usage rates.
The Working Mother Research Institute creates a scoring algorithm based on the previous year’s benchmark results, which then determines the winners. All applicants receive feedback showing how they compare to other applicants; however, the names of applicants that do not make the list are kept confidential. Firm profiles are culled from the survey applications and reflect 2011 data.
For interesting analysis of issues pertaining to women in the Biglaw workforce — like female promotion rates, female usage rates for flex-time hours, and law firm child care offerings — click here to see the study’s executive summary. For ratings on all of the individual firms on the list, click here.
And without further ado, here’s the list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. As you’ll see, the only V10 firms ranked as most female-friendly this year were Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins:
Baker & McKenzie
Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
Chapman and Cutler
Covington & Burling
Crowell & Moring
Debevoise & Plimpton
Dorsey & Whitney
Epstein Becker & Green
Faegre Baker Daniels
Farella Braun + Martel
Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner
Fredrikson & Byron
Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson
Fulbright & Jaworski
Holland & Knight
Honigman Miller Schwarts and Cohn
Hunton & Williams
Jenner & Block
Katten Muchin Rosenman
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton
Kirkland & Ellis
Latham & Watkins
Leonard Street and Deinard
Manatt Phelps & Phillips
McDermott Will & Emery
Neal Gerber & Eisenberg
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Steptoe & Johnson
Vinson & Elkins
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
And while Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers prefer to keep the names of applicants that don’t make the list confidential, we’ve looked to last year’s list to see which firms got the boot (assuming, of course, that they all applied again for recognition on this important list). Which firms didn’t make this year’s cut?
Drinker Biddle & Reath
Godfrey & Kahn
Gray Plant Mooty
Holland & Hart
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
Lindquist & Vennum
Morrison & Foerster
Nilan Johnson Lewis
Quarles & Brady
Shook Hardy & Bacon
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom
Similarly, the only firms that didn’t make it onto the 2012 list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women, but did made it onto Yale Law Women’s list of the Top Ten Family-Friendly Firms, were Arnold & Porter and Mintz Levin. Perhaps these ladies ought to get together to compare notes, because for people attempting to use these lists for guidance as to where to start their Biglaw careers, it can get a bit confusing. (Absent from the Working Mother/Flex-Time Lawyers list over the course of two years, as well as the Yale Law Women’s list over the same time period, is Clifford Chance, the firm where Ms. X used to work.)
Now we’ll turn this discussion over to our readers. If your firm didn’t make the cut, do you think it should have? More importantly, if your firm did make the cut, was it deserved? What can be done to improve work/life balance for women and working mothers? Let us know what you think, in the comments to this post, or via email.