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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, August 10, 2018

Baker Donelson, Husch Blackwell named best firms for women




Working Mother has included law firms Baker Donelson and Husch Blackwell on its annual list of the best law firms for women attorneys.

The list recognizes firms that utilize best practices in retaining and promoting women lawyers. Baker Donelson and Husch Blackwell were among 60 firms to earn a spot on this year’s list.

Working Mother’s “Best Law Firms for Women” list highlights law firms where, on average, almost half of associates and more than a third of partners are women, while one-fifth of equity partners are women. These firms also increasingly offer extended parental leave benefits and encourage more lawyers to work remotely and use flexible hours.

Through its Women’s Initiative, Baker Donelson has implemented numerous initiatives designed to create an environment where female attorneys thrive, including an industry-leading parental leave policy, a firm-wide mentoring program for women, a program that awards business development grants to women attorneys and a training program designed to help women attorneys achieve equity shareholder status.

Women serve in key leadership roles across Baker Donelson. Currently, women serve as president and COO, on the board of directors, as office managing shareholders, as department chairs and as practice group leaders.

This year’s class of new shareholders at the firm was comprised of more than 50 percent women, making it the fourth consecutive year women have made up nearly or more than half of the firm’s newly elected shareholders.

Additionally, nearly half of the new shareholders, including men and women, have taken advantage of Baker Donelson’s parental leave policy during their time at the firm.

Christy Tosh Crider, chair of Baker Donelson’s Women’s Initiative and a shareholder in the firm’s Nashville office, says, “It’s an honor to once again be recognized by Working Mother as a law firm that’s making a difference in improving the inclusion and advancement of women in the legal profession.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished through the energy, dedication and innovative ideas that the members of our Women’s Initiative have brought to addressing the challenges that face women attorneys. Our goal is to continue to be a leading force in developing and implementing policies that help ensure gender diversity in our industry.”

Baker Donelson has earned numerous other recognitions for being an exceptional workplace for women, including being ranked 53rd on Fortune’s list of the “100 Best Workplaces for Women” and being ranked third nationally in diversity for women in the 2018 edition of Vault’s “Best Law Firms for Diversity.”

The firm was recently recognized by the Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA as a finalist in the category of Outstanding Firm in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion. Baker Donelson also has been certified by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum as a Gold Standard Firm for five consecutive years.

“The law firms that make Working Mother’s list are remarkable for their long-term commitment to retaining and promoting women lawyers,” says Meredith Bodgas, editor-in-chief of Working Mother. “One hundred percent of these firms provide flexible work arrangements and 57 percent of them offer sponsorship programs for high-potential women lawyers. That’s resulted in a jump in the number of women equity partners to 21 percent.”

Husch Blackwell has undertaken several measures to support women attorneys:

Adopting a written policy that explicitly recognizes the importance of a healthy work-life balance and encourages all attorneys to propose work arrangements that meet their individual needs.

Changing the compensation structure to eliminate origination credit and to add metrics that reward and incentivize teamwork and client service.

Continuing development of the Sponsorship Initiative. Sponsors (senior attorneys with “clout”) in the initiative have committed to using their power and influence to help female attorneys or attorneys of color at the senior associate or junior partner level advance to the next level.

Offering more programming aimed at addressing issues related to the advancement of women.

Seven of the nine promotions to partner effective Jan. 1, 2017 were women and, based on recent equity partner promotions, the number of women equity partners increased 16 percent.

“Husch Blackwell understands that a well-balanced work life contributes directly to the success of our attorneys and by extension, to our success as a firm,” says Diane Carter, partner and member of the firm’s executive board.

“As part of our firm ethos of guiding our clients from where they are to where they want to be, we know giving our attorneys flexibility and support in their work-life balance contributes to favorable results for clients.”

The 2018 Working Mother Best Law Firms for Women application included more than 300 questions about attorney representation, schedule flexibility, paid time off and parental leave, and development and retention of women.

Profiles are culled from the applications and reflect 2017 data.

Source: Baker Donelson; Husch Blackwell