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Posted: November 18, 2013

2013 Top Company winner: Faegre Baker Daniels

Winners in 12 industries pursue excellence beyond the bottom line

Gigi Sukin

CONSULTING & PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS

Since the late 1990s, law school entry has been split roughly 50-50 men to women. Yet in an article published some three years ago titled, “Glass Ceilings and Dead Ends: Professional Ideologies, Gender Stereotypes and the Future of Women Lawyers at Large Law Firms,” University of Denver law professor Eli Wald argued that women have largely failed to emerge as equals in “big law.” He attributes this to a pervasive ideology of hyper-competitiveness, often used as justification for long hours and high pay typical of some firms.

“Law firms are different from other businesses,” said Heather Perkins, the Denver office leader for Faegre Baker Daniels.

The 150-year-old firm sets clear objectives to increase gender equality in the traditionally male-dominated legal profession. The Denver office has one of the highest percentages of female attorneys – 45 percent – in the city. Statewide, only 33 percent of all Colorado attorneys are women.

“We’re very intentional about that,” Perkins said. While she concedes that, “Benchmarks are important and clients impose them on us,” she added that, “the real significance is having a difference of perspective. We want our office to reflect the world in which we work, but that’s not always reflective of the practice of law.”

The firm boasts an active Women’s Forum for Achievement that builds on collective intellectual capital to ensure FBD is a place where women can develop their careers.

Perkins suggests that gender diversity at FBD distinguishes the firm in the marketplace.

Partner Leslie Fields is one of five women on the firm’s 15-member management board, the leadership body that directs the firm’s strategic initiatives. She was also the first African American partner at FBD and has been with the Denver office for 27 years.

“We’ve been really lucky to bring over some fantastic talent,” Perkins said. That also includes trial lawyer Regina Rodriguez, who’s been with FBD for nearly 10 years. In 2011, Rodriquez was named one of the “Top Women Lawyers” by Law Week Colorado and this year, she was appointed Latina Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association.

“We’re able to stay true to our value proposition, provide successful outcomes and remain competitive,” Perkins said.

Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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