Forty-four law firms have been awarded the Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, a significant jump from the 31 that earned the distinction by this time last year.
WILEF grants Gold Standard status to major firms that meet objective criteria concerning the number of women among equity partners, in firm leadership positions, and in the ranks of their most highly compensated partners.
“WILEF honors law firms whose advancement of women stands out,” said Elizabeth “Betiayn” Tursi, WILEF’s Global Chair.
Tursi is particularly pleased that the results so far this year are ahead of last year. “It demonstrates that women are an integral part of success in today’s challenging environment, which these firms recognize,” she stated.
“In order to maintain their status as leaders in this area, firms must continue making progress,” explained Libby McGarry, Chair of WILEF’s Certification Committee. “That is why the criteria for certification have become more stringent over the years.” WILEF also introduced diversity of women partners as a factor this year.
Certification is awarded to firms that meet at least four of the following seven criteria:
- 20 percent of U.S. equity partners or, alternatively, one-third of attorneys who became U.S. equity partners within the previous 12 months, are women
- 15 percent of the heads of the firm and its U.S. branch office heads combined are women
- 20 percent of the members of the firm’s primary governance committee are women
- 20 percent of the members of the committee that determines equity partner compensation are women
- 25 percent of U.S. practice group leaders/department heads are women
- 15 percent of the top half of U.S. equity partners in terms of compensation are women
- 7 percent of U.S. women equity partners are women of color and/or 3.5 percent of them are LGBT
The following firms qualified for 2017 Certification by meeting four or more of the criteria:
- Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
- Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
- Ballard Spahr
- Bryan Cave
- Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
- Davis Polk & Wardwell
- Davis Wright Tremaine
- Dentons US
- DLA Piper US
- Eversheds Sutherland US
- Faegre Baker Daniels
- Frost Brown Todd
- Haynes and Boone
- Hogan Lovells
- Holland & Hart
- Holland & Knight
- Jackson Lewis
- Jenner & Block
- K&L Gates
- Kutak Rock
- Latham & Watkins
- Littler Mendelson
- Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
- McCarter & English
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
- Morrison & Foerster
- O’Melveny & Myers
- Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
- Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
- Quarles & Brady
- Reed Smith
- Shearman & Sterling
- Shook, Hardy & Bacon
- Sidley Austin
- Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
- Stinson Leonard Street
- Stoel Rives
- Thompson Coburn
- Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
Seven of these firms met all seven certification criteria: Davis Wright & Tremaine; Hogan Lovells; Littler Mendelson; Reed Smith; Shearman & Sterling; Shook, Hardy & Bacon; and Stinson Leonard Street.
Fourteen of the firms have been awarded Gold Standard Certification every year since WILEF began the award in 2011: Ballard Spahr; Davis Wright & Tremaine; Holland & Hart; Holland & Knight; Littler Mendelson; McCarter & English; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Morrison & Foerster; Quarles & Brady; Reed Smith; Shook, Hardy & Bacon; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Stinson Leonard Street; and Stoel Rives.
Among the certified firms:
- 56 percent met the criterion of 20 percent women among U.S. equity partners
- the average percentage of women U.S. equity partners was 21 percent
- women constituted, on average, 27 percent of the members of the firms’ governance committees, 29 percent of their compensation committees, 21 percent of their firm and U.S. branch office heads, and 26 percent of their practice group leaders/department heads
- 34 percent of firms met the criterion of 15 percent women in the top half of equity partners, in terms of compensation
- the average percentage of women within the top half of U.S. equity partners in terms of compensation was 17 percent
With respect to the criterion for diversity among U.S. women equity partners, added in 2017, 80 percent of certified firms met or exceeded the 7 percent threshold for women of color, 41 percent met or exceeded the 3.5 percent threshold for LGBT women, and 32 percent met or exceeded both thresholds. The average percentage of women equity partners of color and LGBT women equity partners was 12 percent and 3-1/4 percent, respectively.
Firms with 300 or more lawyers in the U.S. may submit applications for 2017 Gold Standard Certification until December 12. Application forms may be obtained from Tursi.
All certified firms will be named on the WILEF website and will receive a 2017 Gold Standard Certification seal for use in their communication material.