Biglaw, Gender, Rankings, Women's Issues

The 50 Best Law Firms For Women (2013)

We last spoke about the best law firms for women (in terms of power and pay) in June, and back then, we noted that every few months, a new list or ranking system appears. We were right, because about two months have passed, and now there’s another “best of” list for female attorneys to pore over.

Today, Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers released their annual list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. These law firms are considered pioneers in the field when it comes to “attracting, retaining and promoting women lawyers.” These law firms stand out as “family friendly” workplaces, while at the same time ensuring that women shine in their equity partnership ranks.

These law firms are places you might want to work for. Which ones made this year’s cut?

To earn themselves a spot on the Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms list, firms have to apply and answer more than 300 questions about topics ranging from time-off and leave policies to the compensation and advancement of women. The applications are then scored using an algorithm based on the previous year’s results. Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers don’t disclose the names of the applicants that haven’t made the list of honorees — but that doesn’t mean we won’t.

The ABA Journal provides some coverage on the interesting results gleaned from the scoring algorithm:

• Nineteen percent of the equity partners are women, up from 16 percent when the best law firms initiative was launched in 2007.

• Twenty-nine percent of the nonequity partners are women, up from 22 percent in 2007.

• Women hold 22 percent of executive committee seats, 23 percent of compensation committee seats, and 24 percent of equity partner promotion committee seats.

• All 50 firms offer flex-time and reduced hours, though only 15 percent of the lawyers use flex-time and only 9 percent work reduced hours. Forty-eight of the 50 firms allow lawyers working reduced hours to be eligible for equity partnership, though an average of only one lawyer per firm received a promotion while working fewer hours.

Women have made great progress at Biglaw firms in recent years, but which firms have been most receptive? Here’s the list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women in 2013 (in alphabetical order):

Baker & McKenzie
Chapman and Cutler
Cooley
Crowell & Moring
Debevoise & Plimpton
DLA Piper (US)
Dorsey & Whitney
Duane Morris
Faegre Baker Daniels
Farella Braun + Martel
Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner
Foley & Lardner
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Fredrikson & Byron
Fulbright & Jaworski
Gibbons
Godfrey & Kahn
Goodwin Procter
Hanson Bridgett
Haynes and Boone
Hogan Lovells (US)
Holland & Hart
Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn
Hunton & Williams
Ice Miller
Jenner & Block
Katten Muchin Rosenman
Kirkland & Ellis
Latham & Watkins
Leonard Street and Deinard
Lindquist & Vennum
Littler Mendelson
Lowenstein Sandler
Manatt Phelps & Phillips
McGuireWoods
Neal Gerber & Eisenberg
O’Melveny & Myers
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
Paul Hastings
Perkins Coie
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Quarles & Brady
Reed Smith
Schiff Hardin
Seyfarth Shaw
Shook Hardy & Bacon
Sidley Austin
Thompson Hine
Vinson & Elkins
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

For analysis of issues pertaining to women in the Biglaw workforce — like promotion rates, usage rates for flex-time hours, and the number of women represented in a firm’s top ten rainmakers — click here to see the study’s executive summary. For ratings on all of the individual firms on the list, click here.

Congratulations are in order for the 11 firms new or returning to the list this year: DLA Piper (US), Foley & Lardner, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, Godfrey & Kahn, Haynes and Boone, Lindquist & Vennum, Lowenstein Sandler, O’Melveny & Myers, Quarles & Brady, Shook Hardy & Bacon, and Sidley Austin.

Which firms got the boot this year? We looked to last year’s list of honorees to find out (assuming, of course, that these firms applied again for recognition on this important list). Here they are:

Arent Fox
Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
Covington & Burling
Epstein Becker & Green
Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson
Husch Blackwell
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton
McDermott Will & Emery
Riddell Williams
Steptoe & Johnson

Once again, some firms that placed on the Yale Law Women’s list of the Top Ten Family-Friendly Firms (Arnold & Porter, Shearman & Sterling, and Squire Sanders) were nowhere to be found on this year’s list. Similarly, 20 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 with the highest percentage of women on their management committees (Arnold & Porter, Cozen O’Connor, Schulte Roth & Zabel, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, and Covington & Burling) were excluded from this year’s list.

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 ultimately fails to capture all of the data available.

We made a suggestion last year when we covered the Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers 50 Best Law Firms for Women, 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 you. 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? Let us know what you think, in the comments to this post, or via email.

2013 Best Law Firms for Women [Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers]
Executive Summary: 2013 Best Law Firms for Women [Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers]
50 best law firms for women named; more have women in top rainmaker ranks [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers Announce the 50 Best Law Firms for Women (2012)
Which Firms Offer Women the Most Power and Highest Pay?
Leading Lady Lawyers: Ranking the Am Law 100 By Women in Leadership Roles
The Top Ten Family-Friendly Law Firms (2013)

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