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Front Page - Friday, July 5, 2019

Baker Donelson named Gold Standard Firm

For the fifth consecutive year, the Women in Law Empowerment Forum has certified Baker Donelson as a Gold Standard Firm.

WILEF grants Gold Standard status to firms that meet criteria concerning the number of women among equity partners, in firm leadership positions and in the ranks of their most highly compensated partners.

Baker Donelson was among 45 U.S. law firms with more than 300 attorneys to earn this certification.

Criteria considered for WILEF Gold Standard Certification include the number of women attorneys who are equity partners; who serve as heads of the firm, its offices and practice groups; who serve on the firm’s primary governance committee; and who serve on the firm’s compensation committee.

To earn certification, firms must meet both a mandatory criterion regarding the percentage of women equity partners and at least three of five additional criteria related to women in various areas of leadership, compensation and minority (including LGBT) representation. Baker Donelson was among only 14 firms to meet all six criteria.

Women’s Initiative

Through its Women’s Initiative, Baker Donelson has implemented numerous key initiatives designed to create an environment where female attorneys thrive, including an industry-leading parental leave policy, a firmwide mentoring program for women, a program that awards business development grants to women attorneys, and a training program designed to help women attorneys achieve equity shareholder status.

“The Women’s Initiative provides support for women attorneys to advance their careers through community and firm leadership opportunities,” says attorney Joanna Beckman, co-leader of Baker Donelson’s Women’s Initiative in Chattanooga. “We also initiated our parental leave policy, which is cutting-edge in our industry and provides generous and flexible leave for mothers and fathers.”

The paid leave for mothers at Baker Donelson is 16 weeks; fathers receive three weeks of paid leave.

“There is also flexibility regarding the number of hours required to work after coming back from parental leave so lawyers can ease back into a full schedule,” Beckman adds. “Lawyers are not penalized for the time off for parental leave in computing compensation, bonuses and advancement on the shareholder track.”

Beckman says Baker Donelson’s mentoring program is designed to meet the needs of the firm’s diverse group.

“We have monthly mentoring topics we discuss at our monthly Women’s Initiative meetings, provide one-on-one mentoring for those who want it, and have initiated monthly random groupings of four lawyers – men and women – who go to lunch together to provide lawyers in different practice groups and varying states of their career an opportunity to connect.”

Out of the 15 equity shareholders in Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office, four are women.

Baker Donelson has earned numerous national recognitions as an exceptional workplace for women. The firm has been ranked on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women, is ranked third nationally in diversity for women in the 2018 edition of Vault’s Best Law Firms for Diversity, and in 2017 and 2018, was named by Working Mother magazine as one of the Best Law Firms for Women.

Baker Donelson was also recognized by the Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA 2018 as a finalist in the category of Outstanding Firm in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion.