Best Law Firms for Women

As both a full-time Pittsburgh attorney and a full-time Pittsburgh mom, I am uber pleased that five BigLaw firms with offices in Pittsburgh made the cut in the 2013 Best Law Firms for Women list, compiled by Working Mother Magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC.  The list includes the top fifty firms in the country who use best practices to retain and promote women, such as ensuring that women who use flexible work arrangements aren’t excluded from the partnership track or leadership positions.

The five firms with offices in Pittsburgh are Reed Smith (Reed Smith is headquarted in Pittsburgh), McGuire Woods, Littler Mendelson, Fulbright & Jaworski, and Duane Morris.

The ABA Journal provides some coverage of the results:

All 50 firms offer flex-time and reduced hours, though only 15 percent of the lawyers use flex-time and only 9 percent work reduced hours. Forty-eight of the 50 firms allow lawyers working reduced hours to be eligible for equity partnership, though an average of only one lawyer per firm received a promotion while working fewer hours.

It’s fantastic that these large firms offer flex-time and reduced hours; however, only a small percentage of lawyers are taking advantage of these opportunities.  I would love to know more information, like what percentage of the lawyers using flex-time/reduced hours are caregivers for children under the age of eighteen, what percentage of lawyers who are caregivers for children under the age of eighteen are not taking advantage of these opportunities, and what percentage of caregivers not taking advantage of these opportunities are women.  I noticed that among equity partners, more than three quarters of flex-time users are men, so why aren’t women equity partners using flex-time?  If women aren’t utilizing these opportunities, then why aren’t they?  Could there be a stigma for using flex-time and reduced hours, even if the firm offers it?  I have a lot of questions about this data, but I’m a lawyer and I always ask too many questions.

I am not sure what to think about the fact that an average of one lawyer per firm was promoted while working fewer hours.  On one hand, if you are advancing the firm’s interests while working reduced hours and being just as productive as someone working more hours, don’t you deserve a promotion?  On the other hand, if both people are equally productive, is it fair to promote someone over another person when that other person is working longer hours?

As a woman who did not believe she could possibly start a family in her twenties due to her fledgling legal career, I find it encouraging that BigLaw firms are taking women’s family concerns seriously and making flex-time and reduced hours available.  So, although things aren’t perfect, progress is being made.  It’s also great that several of these firms have offices in Pittsburgh.  Go Pittsburgh!

I hope that things continue to improve for women attorneys and other law firms follow the lead of these firms.  No matter how you look at it, this kind of support by employers helps boost morale and happy attorneys means more productive attorneys. It is a win-win for everyone.

Executive Summary: Best Law Firms for Women 2013 [Working Mother Magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers, LLC]

2013 Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms for Women [Working Mother Magazine]

50 Best Law Firms for Women Named; More Have Women in Top Rainmaker Ranks [ABA Journal]