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Two N.J. law firms make ’50 Best for Women’ list

Gibbons P.C. in Newark and Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland were named yesterday as 2015 “50 Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother Media and Flex-Time Lawyers.Gibbons P.C. in Newark and Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland were named yesterday as 2015 “50 Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother Media and Flex-Time Lawyers.

“50 Best Law Firms for Women” celebrates firms that are not only successful in attracting and retaining women lawyers by offering family-friendly policies, but also in providing career development initiatives that advance women into leadership roles.

Women represent 30 percent of all executive committee members and chair 33 percent of departments at Gibbons P.C. The Gibbons Leadership Academy also helps female attorneys set goals, network efficiently and expand their clientele.

Thirteen percent of equity partners and 19 percent of non-equity partners are female at Gibbons, with 10 percent of the firm’s lawyers working reduced hours.

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Lowenstein Sandler created a new nine-month program in which associates and counsel attend 18 professional events to be mentored on their social interactions by senior colleagues. Female non-equity partners are encouraged to make contacts with external leadership courses.

Seventeen percent of equity partners and 18 percent of non-equity partners are female at Gibbons, with 6 percent of the firm’s lawyers working reduced hours.

“Law firms that focus exclusively on flexible and reduced-hour policies to retain women or solely on getting women in power seats are missing the mark,” said Deborah Epstein Henry, president of Flex-Time Lawyers, in a statement. “We see our ’50 Best Law Firms for Women’ who are having the most success to be the ones that understand the value of focusing on both retention and promotion simultaneously.

“They are cultivating female talent to facilitate that they get the good work, the skills and the flexibility they may need. Yet they are also investing in women with business development and leadership opportunities to ensure they have a strong presence and voice in the equity partner ranks, the governing committees and in running the law firm as a business.”

For example, while at least 40 percent of law school students are women (and have been for three decades), two-thirds of new female associates leave within five years of their hiring, according to the National Association for Law Placement’s Foundation for Law Career Research and Education.

“Often, women have a child and they stop getting good work, or they start working flexible or reduced hours and become stigmatized,” Henry said in a statement.

However, at the 2015 “50 Best Law Firms for Women”:

  • There are more female equity partners (20 percent) than the national average (17 percent). Twenty-nine percent of non-equity partners, 37 percent of counsel, 46 percent of associates and 58 percent of staff attorneys are women.
  • Women hold 27 percent of the equity partner promotion committee seats — the highest percentage in the past five years.
  • Twenty-three percent of lawyers use flex time.
  • Of the firms, 100 percent offer reduced hours, with 96 percent allowing lawyers with reduced hours eligibility for equity partnership.
  • The average number of weeks of paid maternity leave is 15 weeks; paid paternity leave, three weeks; and paid adoption leave, 12 weeks.
  • Eighty-eight percent offer backup child care at the firm, while 82 percent offer subsidized backup child care in-home.
  • Multicultural women make up only 2 percent of equity partners, while multicultural men make up 5 percent. However, multicultural women make up 13 percent of associates (compared with 11 percent of multicultural men) and 15 percent of staff attorneys (compared with 7 percent of multicultural men).

New York City-based companies Working Mother Media (which reaches more than 2 million readers) and Flex-Time Lawyers — an international consulting firm in New York City — co-founded the “50 Best Law Firms for Women” initiative in 2007 to provide law firms with information and best practices to improve the status of women in their firms.

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