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Trailblazing Women Lawyers and Female Friendly Law Firms Honored

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

It's a good time to be a woman in the legal profession. That is, at least when it comes to awards and accolades, if not equity-partnerships. Five female legal trailblazers were honored last Sunday with the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Awards. That ceremony came just a week after Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers announced the 50 best law firms for women.

So, if you're looking to follow in the footsteps of great lawyers, and looking for the right firm to do it in, pay attention. Here's a look at the women and firms on top of the legal world.

Top Women in the Law

The Margaret Brent Awards were distributed during the ABA's annual meeting in Chicago. The award's namesake, Margaret Brent, was the first female lawyer in the (then colonial) United States. Brent spent her life practicing law in Maryland and Virginia, preventing revolts, angering absentee governors and never bothering with marriage.

The Margaret Brent Awards honor similarly inspiring women, who thrive in the legal profession because of their brilliance and commitment and in spite of obstacles personal and institutional. This year's honorees were:

  • Mari Carmen Aponte: Ambassador of the United States to El Salvador
  • Flora D. Darpino: Lieutenant General and Judge Advocate General in the Army
  • Fernande "Nan" Duffly: Associate Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Mary Ann Hynes: Senior Counsel at Dentons
  • Emma Coleman Jordan: Law Professor at Georgetown University

The women's stories are highlighted in the ABA Journal. Before joining the highest court in Massachusetts, Nan Duffly was a refugee from anti-Chinese movements in Indonesia. Emma Jordon saw her husband die on their wedding anniversary. She returned from his funeral to become editor-in-chief of her school's law review. Mari Aponte taught public school in New Jersey before starting her own minority-owned law firm. Flora Darpino followed her husband into the Army, then promptly surpassed him, becoming the Army's top lawyer. Finally, Mary Ann Hynes started as a legal editor at CCH before becoming that company's G.C. -- and the first female general counsel in the Fortune 500.

Top Firms for Women Lawyers

For women lawyers looking to follow the honorees' examples, there's luckily plenty of guidance. Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers have put out a list of the 50 best law firms for women. These firms have more female equity partners, more women among their top rainmakers, and more women on their promotion committees than almost all other firms. They are also focused on cultivating and developing women lawyers' talent, investing in them as future leaders of the legal industry.

When it comes to women equity partners, the top firms are:

  1. Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz (35 percent)
  2. Fredrikson & Byron (35 percent)
  3. Hanson Bridgett (31 percent)
  4. Holland & Hart (28 percent)
  5. Ice Miller (25 percent) tied with WilmerHale (25 percent)

The full list is available on Flex-Time Lawyers' website. Check it out, then start sending around your resumes.

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