Gender equality is given a lot of lip service in the legal profession, and yet women continue to face many disparities when they sign on for work each and every day. From pay to partnership promotions to the composition of leadership committees to family policies, there are many areas where law firms must change to keep up with the times — especially during the pandemic era. Thankfully, some law firms are becoming more progressive, but which firms are doing the best they can for women in all areas?
For the third year in a row, the Yale Law Women have released a ranking of the Top Firms for Gender Equity, coupled with its annual list of the Top Family-Friendly Firms. We’ve written about the latter ranking every year (see our coverage from 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008), and covered YLW’s important new dual ranking in 2019 and 2020.
Which firms made the cut in 2021? Let’s take a look at the latest rankings.
This year’s rankings were based off 10 distinct categories, with honors given reflecting top firms’ strengths. These are the firms being honored:
- Hiring Practices: Morgan Lewis
- Honorable Mentions: Ballard Spahr; Reed Smith; WilmerHale
- Diverse Leadership: Morrison & Foerster
- Honorable Mentions: Littler; Paul Weiss; WilmerHale
- Training & Mentorship: Jenner & Block
- Honorable Mentions: Cahill Gordon; Paul Weiss; Wachtell
- Part-Time Options: Jenner & Block
- Honorable Mentions: Blank Rome; Foley Hoag; Littler
- LGBTQ+ Representation: Latham & Watkins
- Honorable Mentions: Akin Gump; Reed Smith
- Promotion Practices: WilmerHale
- Honorable Mentions: Simpson Thacher; Wilson Sonsini; Winston & Strawn
- Support for New Parents: Orrick
- Honorable Mentions: Proskauer; Winston & Strawn
- Health & Wellness: Cleary Gottlieb
- Honorable Mentions: Akin Gump; Orrick
- Racial Justice Contributions: Pillsbury
- Honorable Mentions: Morgan Lewis; Reed Smith; Simpson Thacher
- COVID-19 Response: Wachtell Lipson Rosen & Katz
- Honorable Mentions: Morgan Lewis; Simpson Thacher; Winston & Strawn
Here’s a round-up of useful information about some of the YLW study’s findings:
- 63.4% of firms track gender demographics of associates each partner works with
- 7.9% of women promoted to equity partner had worked part-time in the last year
- 9.4% of junior associates identified as LGBTQ+, while 3.7% of equity partners did the same
- 37.8% of attorneys promoted to equity partners in 2020 were women
- 9% of attorneys promoted to equity partners in 2020 were women of color
- 58.5% of firms give equal time off to primary & secondary caregivers
- 46% of firms have a centralized flex work policy
- 95% of firms made donations to racial justice organizations
- 61% of firms have implicit bias training for all attorneys that has been updated since 2020
- 12% of Equity Partners are POC
- 97% of firms gave paid time off to workers who contracted COVID without a test as proof
- 78% of firms did not require any employees to work in-person during the pandemic
Please click here (PDF) to see the full report from Yale Law Women.
While vast improvements have been made in terms of gender equity and parental accommodations offerings at large law firms, there is still a lot of work to be done. We said this in the past, but it bears repeating in times like these: “The legal profession has come a long way in terms of attempting to afford equal opportunities for success for both men and women, but it’s still got a long way to go. Why are lawyers still hurrying up and waiting for change?” Be forces for good at your firms. Women deserve to be treated equally, and allies have never been more important. Offer help where help is needed, and together, we can achieve true greatness.
Congratulations to all of the Biglaw firms that made the Yale Law Women Gender Equity & Family Friendliness ranking. How did your firm do this time around? Email us, text us at (646) 820-8477, or tweet us @atlblog.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.