Under Tougher Standards, 31 Firms Receive WILEF’s Gold Standard Certification

Jun 23, 2016, By Andrew Longstreth

The bar was raised, and 31 firms cleared it.

WILEF’s Gold Standard Certification, a program now in its sixth year, became harder to obtain following the decision to tighten some of the criteria that firms must meet to demonstrate their commitment to promoting and fairly compensating women. Under the new criteria, 31 firms received certification, 13 fewer than last year.

But Elizabeth “Betiayn” Tursi, WILEF’s Global Chair, said she was “thrilled” with the number of firms who were certified and explained that the changes were needed. (For more on the changes, read our Q&A with Tursi here.)

“We need to keep raising the bar in order to encourage firms to continue making progress,” Tursi said. “The Gold Standard acknowledges leaders of the profession.”

Libby McGarry, Chair of WILEF’s Certification Committee, explained that, “in order to be certified, law firms must meet objective criteria demonstrating success.”

The firms who received certification are:

  • Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
  • Ballard Spahr
  • Bryan Cave
  • Cooley
  • Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Dentons US
  • Faegre Baker Daniels
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Holland & Hart
  • Holland & Knight
  • Jackson Lewis
  • Jenner & Block
  • Littler
  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
  • McCarter & English
  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  • Polsinelli
  • Quarles & Brady
  • Reed Smith
  • Shook, Hardy & Bacon
  • Sidley Austin
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Stoel Rives
  • Sutherland Asbill & Brennan
  • Thompson Coburn
  • Thompson Hine
  • WilmerHale

Certification is awarded to firms that meet four or more of six criteria. Those criteria are that women constitute a minimum of:

  • 20 percent of U.S. equity partners or, alternatively, one-third of non-lateral attorneys that became U.S. equity partners within the previous 12 months
  • 15 percent of firm and U.S. branch office heads combined
  • 20 percent of the primary governance committee
  • 20 percent of the compensation committee or its equivalent
  • 25 percent of U.S. practice group leaders/department heads
  • 15 percent of the top half of U.S. equity partners in terms of compensation

This year, the threshold for satisfying the second and sixth criteria – women firm and U.S. branch heads and women within the top half of partners in terms of compensation – was raised from 10 percent to 15 percent. The definition of an equity partner was also changed to conform to The American Lawyer’s definition—that a lawyer must receive no more than half of his or her income on a fixed basis.

Six firms met all six certification criteria: Davis Wright; Hogan Lovells; Holland & Hart; Quarles & Brady; Reed Smith; and Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

For more information on the Gold Standard Certification, visit WILEF.com