2012 WorkingMother and Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms for Women Executive Summary

Application Methodology

  • Each firm completed a detailed application covering the following sections:

Workforce Profile                                      Time Off and Leaves

Child Care                                                   Flexibility

Leadership, Compensation and Advancement of Women

Development and Retention of Women

  • Completed applications were collected online from January 13 to April 14, 2012.
  • All data for the 2012 survey was collected from the full year of 2011. Some comparative data from the 2011 and 2007 surveys is shown and this data was collected for the full year of 2010 and 2006, respectively.
  • Best Law Firms were selected from a pool of self-selected applicant firms with 50 lawyers or more in the United States and only U.S. data was collected.
  • Statistics reported are aggregate based on the data from the 50 Best Law Firms.
  • Answers reported are based on responses provided by applicant firms. Not all firms answered all questions.
  • The capitalized words are defined terms from the survey.

Summary of Findings:

Areas of Achievement

  • Compared with last year’s winners, the 2012 Best Law Firms boast a higher number of women on high-level committees.
  •        Female lawyers now hold 21% of the seats on the executive committee, up from 19% in 2011, and 21% of the seats on the compensation committee, up from 18% in 2011.
  • The percentage of Lawyers using Flex-Time at Best Law Firms continues to increase, with 17% of Lawyers using the flexible work arrangement this year, up from 11% in 2011.
  • Best Law Firms continue to provide generous parental leave to their Lawyers, offering 15 weeks of fully paid leave to mother Lawyers, which is up from 14 weeks last year and from 12 weeks the first year of the initiative (2007).
  •       In addition, Best Law Firms offer 6 weeks of paid leave to father Lawyers, and 11 weeks of paid leave to adoptive parent Lawyers.
  • The Best Law Firms continue improving their leadership training, networking and mentoring opportunities for women lawyers.
  • Passing the CPA exam with a CPA prep course was a huge step in finding a promotion quickly.
  • All winning firms now hold networking events with their female Lawyers and clients, for example, up from 88% in 2007.

Summary of Findings:
Areas for Improvement

  • Focus on increasing the effectiveness of women in business development.
  • Among the Best Law Firms, only 11% had three women among the top 10 rainmakers, while 31% had no women.
  • Although the Best Law Firms have more female Equity Partners (18%) than the national average (15%), they should work to continue increasing female Equity Partner representation to a critical mass level of 30%.
  • Best Law Firms should work to ensure that flexible work options are viewed as acceptable and consider more lawyers who are working alternative schedules as candidates for partnership.
  • On average, currently only 1 Lawyer per firm is being promoted to Equity Partner while working a Reduced-Hour schedule.
  • Lawyers across all levels at the Best Law Firms continue to leave vacation days unused and don’t take the full amount of paid parental leave that firms offer. Best Law Firms should take action to make sure that all attorneys feel comfortable taking paid vacation and leave.

Women’s Representation Declines at Higher Levels

While the representation of women declines at the higher levels, the Best Law Firms employ more female Equity Partners (18%) than the national average (15%).

Partnership Structure’s Impact on Women

Among the Best Law Firms, women Lawyers represent 21% of Equity Partners versus 17% at two-tier firms. The national trend is analogous, where women represented 21% of Equity Partners in one-tier firms and 15% of Equity Partners in two-tier firms.

Female Promotion Rates Remain Stronger at One-Tier Firms

Promotion rates for newly-admitted female Equity Partners are slightly stronger at Firms with one tier, compared with rates at Firms with two tiers. This gap has shrunken recently, to 3 percentage points from 13 percentage points last year.

Representation of Women on Influential Committees

At the Best Law Firms, women hold 21% of Executive, 21% of Compensation, and 22% of Equity Partner Promotion Committee seats.

The representation of women on the Executive and Compensation Committees increased over last year, when women held 19% of Executive and 18% of Compensation Committee seats.

Representation of Women as Firm Leaders: 2007 v. 2012

Ten Best Law Firms (20%) are led by female managing partners, while six (12%) have female chairpersons.

Top Ten Rainmakers

We asked the Best Law Firms how many of their top ten rainmakers are women. At the 36* firms that answered the question, here’s how women are faring in business development. Significantly more Best Law Firms now support women through leadership training, networking and mentoring than did in the first year of our initiative.

Leadership Training, Networking & Mentoring:
2007 and 2012

Significantly more Best Law Firms now support women through leadership training, networking and mentoring than did in the first year of our initiative.

Access to Flexible Work Arrangements Varies

All 2012 Best Law Firms offer Flex-Time and Reduced Hours. The Best Law Firms are less generous in offering Annualized Hours and Job Sharing.

Usage Rates for Flexible Work Arrangements Remain Low

The Best Law Firms have more Lawyers working Reduced Hours (9%) than the national average (6%).

Female Usage Rates for Flex-Time

The breakdown of Associates using Flex-Time splits evenly between men and women. More than 40% of Counsel and Non-Equity Partners who use Flex-Time are women.

Promotion Rates for Reduced Hour Lawyers

All 50 Best Law Firms (100%) offer Reduced Hours. 47 of the 50 Best Law Firms (94%) allow Reduced Hour Lawyers to be eligible for Equity Partnership.

Last year, of the 10 Lawyers, on average, who were promoted to Non-Equity Partner at the Best Law Firms, an average of 1 Lawyer was working a Reduced-Hour schedule at the time of promotion.

Last year, of the 7 Lawyers, on average, who were promoted to Equity Partner at the Best Law Firms, an average of 1 Lawyer was working a Reduced-Hour schedule at the time of promotion.

Child Care Offerings

Subsidized in-home backup child care has grown in popularity: 66% of Best Law Firms offer it in 2012, up from 62% in 2011.

Affinity Group Offerings

More Best Law Firms now offer Affinity Groups specifically for women, multicultural women, multicultural men, LGBT, work life or parenting, and Reduced Hours lawyers.

Congratulations to the 2012 Best Law Firms for Women

Arent Fox LLP
Baker & McKenzie LLP
Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Chapman and Cutler LLP
Cooley LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
Crowell & Moring LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Duane Morris LLP
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.
Faegre Baker Daniels
Farella Braun + Martel LLP
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.
Gibbons P.C.
Goodwin Procter LLP
Hanson Bridgett LLP
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Holland & Knight LLP
Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP
Hunton & Williams LLP


Husch Blackwell LLP
Ice Miller LLP
Jenner & Block LLP
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Leonard, Street and Deinard
Littler Mendelson
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
McGuireWoods LLP
Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Paul Hastings LLP
Perkins Coie LLP
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Reed Smith LLP
Riddell Williams P.S.
Schiff Hardin LLP
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Thompson Hine LLP
Vinson & Elkins LLP
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP


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