New York, NY, June 23, 2016 – Thirty-one (31) law firms have been awarded 2016 Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum. The results were announced this morning by the WILEF Tribune, a new site covering news on women in Big Law and corporate legal departments. “WILEF congratulates these firms for being true leaders in the advancement of women,” said Elizabeth “Betiayn” Tursi, WILEF’s Global Chair. The firms are listed below.

Gold Standard Certification recognizes major law firms that have promoted women to equity partnership and leadership positions and that compensate them accordingly. Libby McGarry, Chair of WILEF’s Certification Committee, explained that, “in order to be certified, law firms must meet objective criteria demonstrating success.”

Certification is awarded to firms that meet four or more of six criteria. Those criteria are: that women constitute a minimum of

  • 20% of U.S. equity partners or, alternatively, one-third of non-lateral attorneys that became U.S. equity partners within the previous 12 months
  • 15% of firm and U.S. branch office heads combined
  • 20% of the primary governance committee
  • 20% of the compensation committee or its equivalent
  • 25% of U.S. practice group leaders/department heads
  • 15% of the top half of U.S. equity partners in terms of compensation

The 15% threshold for satisfying the second and sixth criteria – women firm and U.S. branch heads and women within the top half of partners in terms of compensation – was higher this year than last. In 2015, when 44 firms had certified by June, the threshold for satisfying these two criteria was 10%.

“We need to keep raising the bar in order to encourage firms to continue making progress,” stated Ms. Tursi. “The ‘Gold Standard’ acknowledges leaders of the profession.”

The following firms qualified for certification by meeting at least four of the six criteria:

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Ballard Spahr

Bryan Cave


Davis Wright Tremaine

Dentons US

Faegre Baker Daniels

Hogan Lovells

Holland & Hart

Holland & Knight

Jackson Lewis

Jenner & Block


Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

McCarter & English

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Morrison & Foerster

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison


Quarles & Brady

Reed Smith

Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Sidley Austin

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Stoel Rives

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan

Thompson Coburn

Thompson Hine



Six of these firms met all six certification criteria: Davis Wright; Hogan Lovells; Holland & Hart; Quarles & Brady; Reed Smith; and Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

Among the certified firms:

  • 58% met the criterion of 20% women among U.S. equity partners
  • the average percentage of women U.S. equity partners was 21%
  • women constituted, on average, 27% of the members of the firms’ governance committees, 28% of their compensation committees, 21% of their firm and U.S. branch office heads, and 22% of their practice group leaders/department heads
  • 87% of firms met the criterion of 15% 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%

On September 22, 2016, WILEF will hold a reception for the listed firms, as well as any other eligible firm (300 or more practicing lawyers in the United States) that submits a qualifying application by August 1. Application forms may be obtained from Ms. Tursi. Applications for 2016 certification will continue to be accepted until December 1.

All certified firms will be named on the WILEF website and will receive a 2016 Gold Standard Certification seal for use in their communication material.


 Now celebrating its Tenth Anniversary, WILEF is dedicated to assisting women in law to assume leadership roles within the National Law Journal 350 law firms and Fortune 1000 legal departments, and within their respective communities.