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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. Law firms with 300 or more practicing lawyers in the United States are eligible for the 2016 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 2016 WILEF Certification, a meaningful percentage means that the number of women equity partners satisfies four or more of the following criteria:

• Women account for at least 20% of equity partners or alternatively, 33% or more of the attorneys becoming equity partners during the past twelve months. [not a mandatory requirement as previously announced]

• Women represent at least 15% of firm chairs and office managing partners. [Up from 10%]

• Women make up at least 20% of the firm's primary governance committee.

• Woman represent 20% or more of the firm's compensation committee.

• Women make up at least 25% of practice group leaders or department heads.

• Women represent at least 15% of the top half of the most highly compensated partners. [Up from 10%]

In addition to the above changes to the second and sixth criteria, the definition of equity partner for purposes of completing the application has changed. The new definition is:” equity partner” is one who receives no more than half of his or her income on a fixed-income basis. Because WILEF had not previously announced this new definition, criteria one will not be a mandatory requirement.

The WILEF 2016 Gold Standard Certification application will be available on February 29, 2016. Requests for the application and questions should be made to WILEF’s Co-Founder and Global Chair, Elizabeth Anne “Betiayn” Tursi via email at elizabethtursi@aol.com. Applications must be received on or before June 1, 2016 for inclusion in the initial list of Gold Standard Firms to be published in mid-June, 2016 (no extensions will be granted), by August 1, 2016 for inclusion in the WILEF Gold Standard Awards cocktail reception in September 2016 or by December 12, 2016 for 2016 Gold Standard Certification.

A sampling of press relating to the WILEF 2015 Gold Standard announcement:

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Wilef Seal 2015

2015 Gold Standard Firms
(as of December 9, 2015)

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz*****
Ballard Spahr* 
Bryan Cave****  
Davis Polk & Wardwell**
Davis Wright Tremaine*
Dentons US*** 
DLA Piper (US)** 
Dorsey & Whitney***** 
Faegre Baker Daniels*****  
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner*
Goodwin Procter
Haynes & Boone*
Hogan Lovells***  
Holland & Hart&&&
Holland & Knight*
Hughes Hubbard & Reed*
Jackson Lewis**
K&L Gates*
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton**
Latham & Watkins*
Lathrop & Gage***** 
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips*
McCarter & English* 
McKenna Long & Aldridge***
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo****
Morgan Lewis & Bockius*****
Morrison & Foerster*
Norton Rose Fulbright*
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe***
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Paul Hastings*
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison*****
Perkins Coie*
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman*
Proskauer Rose**** 
Quarles & Brady*
Reed Smith&  
Schiff Hardin***
Shearman & Sterling*****
Shook Hardy & Bacon&
Sidley Austin**
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett**
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom*
Steptoe & Johnson LLP****
Stinson Leonard Street*
Stoel Rives*
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan**
Thompson Coburn****
Thompson Hine*
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice


Firms in bold met all six criteria in 2015
*five-peat recertified firm
**four-peat recertified
*** three-peat recertified
**** recertified
& five-peat recertified in all six criteria
&& four-peat certified in all six criteria
&&& three-peat certified in all six criteria
&&&& recertified in all six criteria