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Deborah R. Willig has served as Willig, Williams & Davidson’s managing partner since the firm’s founding in 1979. A determined advocate for workers, Deborah has focused her practice on labor relations and employment law since 1976.

As a labor and employment attorney, Deborah has been involved in representing a wide range of labor unions including teachers, and non-professional public school employees, public health, social, and recreation workers, firefighters, teamsters and orchestra musicians. For decades Deborah has been involved in every major contract negotiation involving the employees of the City of Philadelphia and its School District. Her work for both public and private sector unions includes contract negotiations, presenting interest and grievance arbitrations, and advising clients on internal union governance and staff matters.

Deborah also maintains an active practice in the representation of employee benefit funds, including jointly administered funds in the public and private sectors. One of her sub-specialties in connection with the health and welfare plans she represents is the negotiation of health care benefits, including the analysis, review and implementation of benefit designs and the negotiation with benefit fund providers. Deborah secured a major arbitration victory requiring a large Philadelphia employer to provide domestic partner benefits.

Resident in the firm’s Philadelphia office, Deborah is committed to community service, including legal, academic and charitable endeavors. She has held numerous leadership positions with the Philadelphia Bar Association during her career, including becoming the organization’s first woman Chancellor in 1992. Deborah continues to serve as an active member of the bar association while maintaining her rigorous legal practice and sharing her expertise as a guest lecturer at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Temple University Beasley School of Law, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, Deborah is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Pennsylvania and American bar associations. Deborah was elected as a member of the American Law Institute, and is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. She also served as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Commission.

Deborah currently serves as President of the French International School of Philadelphia, a nonprofit independent school offering a dual curriculum in French and English.

Deborah has received a wide array of highly prestigious awards and honors including the Agent of Change Award from Women's Way, the Sandra Day O’Connor Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Labor Human Rights Award from the Jewish Labor Committee, the Israel Labor Medal from the State of Israel Bonds, the Vocational Service Award from the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, the Outstanding Service Award from Pennsylvania Citizen's Action and the Attorney of the Year Award from the Jewish National Fund.

Since 1990, Deborah has been consistently selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Labor and Employment Law (Copyright 2012 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aikens, S.C.). Deborah has also been consistently named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer® by Thomson Reuters, published annually in Philadelphia magazine, since 2004. She was listed among the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2012, 2009, 2008 and 2007 and one of the Top 100 Women Lawyers in Philadelphia in 2009.

Deborah is AV® rated by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell® a registered certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.


Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Employment: 70%
  2. Employee Benefits: 30%


Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

1 total 

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  • Peter N Munsing

    If I was working on a union issue or my union had a problem, I can't think of a better lawyer to represent my sisters and brothers, to coordinate any legal team, to bargain and help with bargaining strategy, and to act as a wise counselor. Known her professionally for longer than she looks old!


    Peter Munsing Car accident Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

Contact info

Willig, Williams & Davidson

1845 Walnut St
24th FL
Philadelphia, PA, 19103


DCActive 198007/10/2016
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
2016 Best LawyersBest Lawyers in America2016
LIfetime Achievement AwardThe Legal Intelligencer2013
Bob Kyler Ambassador of Hope AwardCity of Hope and the Tri-State Labor & Management Council2012
AV RatedMartindale - Hubbell2012
PA Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Cmwlth of PAPhiladelphia Magazeine2012
Pennsylvania Super LawyerPhiladelphia Magazine2012
Best Lawyers in AmericaBest Lawyers2012
Women of Distinction AwardPhiladelphia Business Journal2010
Women Lawyers of Distinction AwardThe Legal Intelligencer2010
Pennsylvania Super Lawers Top 100 Women Lawyers in PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia Magazine2009
Hall of FameTemple UniversityLeague for Entrepreneurial Women2009
Founder's Day AwardTemple Law Alumni Association2002
Agent of Change AwardWomen's Way2002
Sandra Day O'Connor AwardPhiladelphia Bar Association1995
Labor Human Rights AwardJewish Labor Committee1994
Vocational Service AwardRotary Club of Philadelphia1993
Israel Labor MedalState of Israel Bonds1993
Mary Philbrook AwardWomen's Law Caucus of Rutgers Law School1993
Attorney of the Year AwardJewish National Fund1992
Achievement AwardAmerican Association of University Women1992
Achievement AwardTemple University Women's Law Caucus1992
Rosh Pinah AwardAmerican Jewish Congress1991
Outstanding Service AwardPennsylvania Citizens' Action1990
Spirit of Life AwardCity of Hope National Medical Center1987
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Managing PartnerWillig, Williams & Davidson1979 - Present
AssociateMarkowitz & Kirschner1976 - 1979
Law ClerkHonorable Lisa A. Richette1975 - 1976
MemberGovernor's Commission on the Status of Women1973 - 1974
Association namePosition nameDuration
French International School of PhiladelphiaBoard of Directors2007 - Present
American Bar AssociationN/A1999 - Present
American Arbitration Association, Philadelphia Region Labor Advisory CommitteeN/A1992 - Present
National Association of Women LawyersN/A1990 - Present
Pennsylvania Association for JusticeN/A1986 - Present
Philadelphia Trial Lawyers AssociationN/A1983 - Present
AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating CommitteeN/A1982 - Present
Tau Epsilon Rho Law SocietyN/A1980 - Present
District of Columbia Bar AssociationN/A1978 - Present
Pennsylvania Bar AssociationN/A1975 - Present
Philadelphia Bar AssociationN/A1975 - Present
Temple University School of LawBoard of Visitors1992 - 1996
Philadelphia Bar AssociationFirst Woman Chancellor1992 - 1992
Philadelphia Bar FoundationN/A1986 - 1993
Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Hearing CommitteeN/A1979 - 1986
Temple University Law Alumni Executive CommitteeN/A1976 - 1982
Publication nameTitleDate
BNA Books•"Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting, National Academy of Arbitrators,” Arbitration of Discrimination Grievances: Arbitral and Judicial Competence Compared1986
BNA Books•“The Freedom of Information Act and the National Labor Relations Board: Recent Developments,” The Labor Lawyer1985
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of LawN/AN/A1975
University of PennsylvaniaN/AN/A1971
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Philadelphia, PA“Public Sector Labor Contracts in Philadelphia: Challenges vs. Rhetoric”2007
Philadelphia, PAPanel Member, Annual Symposium on Municipal Unions and Municipal Governance2002
Philadelphia, PAPanel Member, Seminar on Negotiations1997
Philadelphia, PA•Panel Member, “Negotiations in the Practice of Law”1997
Philadelphia, PAPanel Member, Persuasion Principles"1996
Philadelphia, PAGuest Lecturer, "Negotiating a Labor Contract"1995
Philadelphia, PAPael Member, "Determining Damages In the Employment Case"1995
Trends and Developments in Pennsylvania Public Employment Conference"Workplace Issues: Sexual Harassment"1993
Training Needs of the Advanced Advocate'Advanced Arbiration Advocacy"1993
Labor Law Forum"Collective Bargaining in Philadelphia in 19921993
Teaching Humanities in the Schools/Philadelphia Renaissance in Science and Math"Exploring Our Freedoms: A Bill of Rights Symposium"1992
Speaker"The Role of the Legal Secretary in the Profession"1992
Law Day Naturalization Ceremony"The Bill of Rights and Citizenship"1992
Camden, NJTo Be Lawyer1992
Speaker"Women Making History"1990
Philadelphia, PA"Privacy Issues in the Workplace"1988
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy Symposium"Drug Testing: Balancing the Rights of Employers and Employees"N/A