6 MN Firms on Nat’l “Best Law Firms for Women” List

Dorsey & Whitney, Faegre & Benson, Fredrikson & Byron, Gray Plant Mooty, Lindquist & Vennum, and Nilan Johnson Lewis made this year's list based on their work force profile, family-friendly benefits and policies, flexibility, leadership, compensation, and advancement and retention of women.

Six Minnesota law firms made a national “50 Best Law Firms for Women” list that honors companies committed to work-life and women's issues.

The list is released annually by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE)-a division of Working Mother Media-and Flex-Time Lawyers, LLC.

The Minnesota companies on the 2011 list are all based in Minneapolis. Their names, along with some facts cited by Working Mother magazine, are:

Dorsey & Whitney, LLP: Of the firm's 43 newly admitted partners in the past three years, 22 were women. The managing partner is a female, and the firm tracks the allocation of work to its female lawyers to ensure they are receiving opportunities necessary to build expertise.

 Faegre & Benson, LLP: Lawyers working flextime hours are not required to be in the office at all, are paid the same as their full-time counterparts in the office, and are eligible for partnership. Two years ago, the firm created a nominating committee with a diverse composition that rotates annually; in the second election, two women, one a woman of color, were proposed by the committee and then elected by secret ballot.

Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.: Of the 138 equity partners in 2010, 40 were women. Twenty percent of the overall business development budget at the firm is aimed at women-only training and networking-and the chairperson is a woman. Additionally, of the three lawyers who sit on the executive committee, one is a woman, and the chair of the committee responsible for deciding equity partner promotion is a woman.

Gray Plant Mooty: The firm provides an in-house workout room for everyone's use. In 2007, a working mom attorney was named managing officer and was the first woman to hold that position in the firm's 140-year history. The same year, a woman was named executive director. Additionally, 33 percent of the firm's lawyers are women, and 31 percent of its practice groups are chaired by women.

Lindquist & Vennum: Six women sit on the 23-member committee that's responsible for deciding equity partnership, and two women sit on the seven-member executive committee. The firm provides leadership opportunities for its women attorneys through its Millennia Leaders program, which offers intensive leadership training for women that's followed by monthly meetings-and a network of businesswomen for future relationships.

Nilan Johnson Lewis: Fifty-two percent of all of the firm's attorneys are women, and women hold four out of five of the firm's senior administrative roles. Additionally, 53 percent of the firm's shareholders are women-almost three times the national average. Last year, all three of the associates promoted to shareholders were women and mothers; one was elected shareholder while working on a reduced-hours schedule and two weeks before giving birth to her third child.

The firms on the list weren't ranked-and they had to apply to be considered. Those with at least 50 lawyers were eligible to apply, and completed applications were collected online between November 12, 2010 and January 21, 2011. The winning firms were selected based on their responses to questions about work force profile, family-friendly benefits and policies, flexibility, leadership, compensation, and the advancement and retention of women.

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