Raising the Bar: Best Law Firms for Women 2015

As women steadily advance in industries that are traditionally male dominated, the field of law has maintained a small series of rather tenuous advances. In response to these changes, Flex-Time Lawyers and Working Mother compiled a list of the Best Law Firms for Women 2015.

The criteria for this list included firms that have family friendly policies and programs in place to aid business and career development, and initiatives to help advance more women into leadership positions. One of the goals of this survey is to provide other law firms with solid data and benchmarking tools that they can use to develop policies that will improve the status of female attorneys within their organization. Data used in this report came from firms with 50 or more lawyers in the U.S.

Currently, women only make up about 17 percent (the national average) of equity partners in law firms in the United States. The firms on the list have women making up 20 percent or more of their equity partners in 2015.

These firms also have made other significant strides in gender equality –

  • 16 percent of the best law firms have three or more women who are among their top ten rainmakers, a 5 percent increase from last year.
  • Of these firms, 27 percent of equity partner promotion committee seats are held by women. This is the highest number of female representation since 2010.
  • Percentage of equity partner promotions for women increased 33% (up 4% from 2014) at single-tier partnership firms.

These firms are raising the bar when it comes to employee retention and to advancing women to equity partnership. They are setting an industry standard by displaying forward thinking methods and best practices that support not only working mothers, but working parents.

Law firms as a whole generally focus either on retaining women or on promoting them to leadership positions or equity partners. The firms on the Best Law Firms list take a two prong approach. By employing female friendly retention methods including reduced hour policies and flexible schedules as well as initiatives to propel women into seats of power, they level the playing field. When both retention and promotion are valued, everyone wins.

Each of the best law firms for women has policies in place that allow reduced hours. Nearly all (96 percent) allow those attorneys who have reduced hours to qualify for promotion to equity partnership. While this did not occur in any of the firms on the list during 2015, there were lawyers who were working reduced hour schedules that were promoted to non-equity partner. They averaged one per firm.

The recognition of women in the legal field as viable equity partners and quality employees worth retaining is slowly growing. As more law firms strengthen their policies regarding women, the benefits will be realized across the board.

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