The Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF)
Launches its Gold Standard Certification Award Initiative
New York, NY, March 21, 2011 --
The Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) announced today that it is launching its Gold Standard Certification Awards ("WILEF Certification") Initiative, the only initiative directed toward certifying, publicly recognizing and broadly publicizing eligible law firms that have integrated women into the highest leadership positions in the firm.
The mailing of the application for certification will commence the week of April 3, 2011 and will be sent to Chairs and Managing Partners. Firms seeking 2011 WILEF Certification as "Gold Standard firms" must have a total of 100 or more practicing attorneys in the United States and must furnish the CERTIFICATION information requested in the application to WILEF by June 1, 2011. Firms that do not meet the criteria for certification by June 1 may submit the application to WILEF once they have done so. Certification will be awarded to the firm(s) whose responses indicate that women have attained the highest levels of leadership. The names of all firms receiving Gold Standard Certification will be disseminated to law school recruitment offices, national and local bar associations, and the media.
In recent years, several organizations have sought to identify the law firms most successful in retaining and promoting women attorneys. Typically, they have requested and collected substantial amounts of information from participating law firms in an effort to evaluate firm policies and practices with respect to parental leave and childcare policies, networking, mentoring and advancement of one or more minority groups within the firm. However, selection of leading performers from among the participating firms is based in part upon subjective assessment of a firm's policies or practices vis-à-vis those of the other participants. The WILEF Certification differs from these efforts in the following respects:
- WILEF will only award and celebrate firms meeting objective criteria which demonstrate, through results, that a significant number of women have attained the highest leadership levels in the firm. These criteria reflect the fact that a large percentage of graduating law school classes and of law firm entry associates have consisted of women during the past three decades.
- WILEF Certification emphasizes the leadership roles achieved by equity women partners, rather than the policies or practices of the firm or the overall number or percentage of women in the partnership. Accordingly, the information sought from an applicant for WILEF Certification focuses on the extent to which the firm has successfully made women equity partners, integrated women partners into its governance structure, and recognized the contributions of women through compensation.
Law firms are eligible for the 2011 WILEF Gold Standard Certification if they successfully demonstrate that women represent a meaningful percentage of their equity partners, of their highest leadership positions, of their governance and compensation committees, and of their most highly compensated partners. For 2011 WILEF Certification, a meaningful percentage means that the number of women equity partners satisfies three or more of the following criteria:
- 20% of equity partners
- 10 % of firm chairs and managing partners (firm-wide, U.S. or North American Regional and U.S. branch offices)
- 20 % of the firm's primary governance committee
- 20% of the firm's compensation committee or its equivalent
- 25% of the firm's practice group leaders and/or department heads
- 10 % of the top half of the most highly compensated partners in the firm.
The 2011 WILEF Certification will be based on data and percentages relating solely to offices of the Firm within the United States.
WILEF's National Chair, Elizabeth Anne "Betiayn" Tursi, commented: "When I envisioned this initiative, the goal was that these standards would set the bar for all law firms to help recognize and promote women."
Ida O. Abbott, Co-Chair of WILEF West and Chair of the WILEF Certification Committee added: "WILEF's certification initiative will recognize law firms whose support for women has led to real results at the highest levels of firm management, leadership and compensation. We applaud these firms for their successes to date and urge them – and all other law firms - to intensify their efforts to achieve greater representation of women at the top."
Questions concerning the Certification Program or requests for the Certification Application should be directed to WILEF's National Chair, Elizabeth Anne "Betiayn" Tursi at firstname.lastname@example.org.