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Dozens of the nation’s top law firms are failing their women attorneys when it comes to advancement, training, work-life balance and more, according to a report released by members of the Women’s Law Association at Harvard Law School. The report, “Presumed Equal: What America’s Top Women Lawyers Really Think About Their Firms,” surveyed about 16,000 women lawyers and received about 4,000 anonymous responses from women practicing in 105 law firms. The report is the second update to “Presumed Equal,” originally published in 1993 and updated in 1998 . The objective of the study, conducted this year by two third-year Harvard Law School students, was to provide a candid snapshot of the professional life of women attorneys working at some of nation’s most prominent law offices. The report found that many women believe their firms don’t provide opportunities to make partner or foster an environment that values diversity and family. “A lot of the issues we’ve been working on are still around,” said Lynn Grayson, a partner at Jenner & Block. Grayson added that she was encouraged by some improvements she has seen from the results of the previous reports. “Presumed Equal” ranked 105 law firms based on women’s responses that evaluated their firms by agree/disagree questions, with “strongly agree” receiving four points and “strongly disagree” receiving one. Responses from firms with multiple participants were averaged. The questions covered topics such as advancement opportunities, training, inclusive atmosphere, business development, work-life issues, mentoring and leadership. Receiving the highest score for providing opportunities to women, and therefore ranked No. 1, was Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. The firm that ranked 105th was New York’s Kelley Drye & Warren. Phone calls to Kelley Drye’s managing partner in New York were not returned by press time. The other law firms in the top 10 in descending order were Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Baker & Daniels; Williams & Connelly; Bracewell & Giuliani; Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner; Covington & Burling; Hughes Hubbard & Reed; Debevoise & Plimpton; and Preston Gates & Ellis. Other firms in the bottom 10 in ascending order were Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; Kaye Scholer; Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough; White & Case; Duane Morris; Baker & McKenzie; Dewey Ballantine; Howrey; and Willkie Farr & Gallagher. The Harvard students who conducted the survey, Lindsey Blohm and Ashley Riveira, will present details of their findings Sept. 20 at the Alliance for Women’s seminar series on women in the profession held at Jenner & Block in Chicago.

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