50 Best Law Firms for Women

Working Mother, August/September 2009 | Go to article overview

50 Best Law Firms for Women


These are turbulent times for law firms. The economy is still reeling, several prestigious firms have collapsed, and layoffs have been rampant. No doubt about it, this sector is feeling the recession. But for working-mom lawyers, who've long sought more flexibility, this may be just the moment they've been waiting for. Our 50 Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms for Women are leading the charge for change, using the power of flex both to cut costs and retain lawyers. Already, our winning firms have more lawyers working reduced hours (8 percent versus 5 percent nationwide) and also employ more female equity partners, who share in their firm's profits (20 percent versus 16 percent nationwide)-and that's just for starters. We salute these firms for recognizing that making the legal profession work for women is good business for everyone.

Alston & Bird

Female equity partners 15% Female nonequity partners 16% Lawyers working reduced hours 4%

WHAT WE LOVE This nine-office firm with headquarters in Atlanta makes new moms feel welcome by easing their transition back to work with automatic phase-back. Private lactation rooms are available at alt of its locations, and its New Mother Welcome Back program pairs attorneys returning from maternity leave with colleagues who have young children for informal mentoring. Last year, the firm held a quarterly series of New Parent Lunches where employees could swap advice and gather tips from noted speakers. (One featured a nutrition expert who spoke about the importance of eating healthy during pregnancy and addressed common children's nutritional issues.) Flex schedules are gaining in popularity: Over the past two years, the number of associates working a reduced schedule has grown to 23 from one, and lawyers who work reduced hours are eligible for equity partnership.

Andrews Kurth

Female equity partners 16%

Lawyers working reduced hours 9%

WHAT WE LOVE Women here have a strong voice when it comes to hiring practices, compensation and promotions. Nearly half of the lawyers hired at this Houston-based firm last year were women, and a femaie lawyer chairs the compensation committee. Plus, five of the 19 attorneys who sit on the committee that decides partnership promotions are women. The firm is a founding member of the Project for Attorney Retention, which works to reduce attrition among lawyers by promoting work/life balance and the advancement of women, Mentoring circles for women are available, as are several career development programs for female lawyers. Last year, the Women's Initiative Team hosted a three-day executive women's retreat for attorneys and clients Featuring seminars and networking opportunities.

Arent Fox

Female equity partners 17%

Female nonequity partners 42%

Lawyers working reduced hours 6%

WHAT WE LOVE This firm takes a progressive approach when it comes to work schedules. All lawyers have the option to work a reduced schedule that's a maximum of 80% of the firm's standard required billabie hours. Last year, 15 associates chose that schedulers did two counsel and two nonequity partners. The firm, based in Washington, DC, monitors lawyers working reduced hours so they don't sup through the cracks, trains them in how to effectively manage their time so they don't exceed their target hours and offers a support network. Reduced-hours lawyers are eligible for nonequity and equity partnership. Last year, four women sat on the firm's ig-person committee that decides on promotions for equity partner.

Bass, Berry & Sims

Female equity partners 17%

Female nonequity partners 67%

Lawyers working reduced hours 6%

WHAT WE LOVE The partnership track isn't for everyone. That's why this NashviNe-based firm allows its staff attorneys to work a 40hour week and places them on an as-needed basis in the main practice areas. While they're not eligible for partner, these lawyers still receive many of the same benefits as their full-time counterparts, including paid maternity leave, reimbursement for continuing education courses and annual performance reviews. …

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