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Deborah R. Willig

Employment and labor Attorney at Philadelphia, PA

Not yet reviewed
  • State Years
    Dist. of Columbia - DC 44 years
    Pennsylvania - PA 48 years
  • Licensed for 44 years
    State DC
    Acquired 1980
    Good Standing No misconduct found
  • Licensed for 48 years
    State PA
    Acquired 1975
    Active No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Deborah

Learn Deborah’s areas of practice.

Practice areas
  1. Employment and labor
    Willig, Williams & Davidson serves as legal counsel to hundreds of labor organizations representing both private and public employees. Willig, Williams & Davidson is one of a handful of mid-sized firms in the United States specializing in negotiation and litigation on behalf of employees who have suffered discrimination at work and who do not have the protection of a union.

  2. Employee benefits
    The attorneys in the Willig, Williams & Davidson Employee Benefits Group understand that quality health care and a secure retirement are the most important things that labor unions offer to America's working families. We therefore have committed ourselves to providing the highest level of representation to Taft-Hartley pension and welfare trust funds, and to unions that negotiate for their members' benefits.

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.

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Willig, Williams & Davidson
1845 Walnut St
24th FL
Philadelphia, PA, 19103

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AVVO RATING 10.0 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Managing Partner
  • Willig, Williams & Davidson
  • 1979 - Present
  • Associate
  • Markowitz & Kirschner
  • 1976 - 1979
  • Law Clerk
  • Honorable Lisa A. Richette
  • 1975 - 1976
  • Member
  • Governor's Commission on the Status of Women
  • 1973 - 1974
View all work experience


  • Temple University School of Law, J.D.
  • 1975
  • University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Cum Laude
  • 1971


  • French International School of Philadelphia
  • Board of Directors
  • 2007 - Present
  • American Bar Association
  • 1999 - Present
  • American Arbitration Association, Philadelphia Region Labor Advisory Committee
  • 1992 - Present
  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • 1990 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Association for Justice
  • 1986 - Present
  • Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association
  • 1983 - Present
  • AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee
  • 1982 - Present
  • Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society
  • 1980 - Present
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • 1978 - Present
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • 1975 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • 1975 - Present
  • Temple University School of Law
  • Board of Visitors
  • 1992 - 1996
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • First Woman Chancellor
  • 1992 - 1992
  • Philadelphia Bar Foundation
  • 1986 - 1993
  • Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Hearing Committee
  • 1979 - 1986
  • Temple University Law Alumni Executive Committee
  • 1976 - 1982
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Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • Super Lawyer
  • Super Lawyers
  • 2018
  • Best Lawyer
  • Best Lawyers in America
  • 2018
  • Super Lawyer
  • Super Lawyers
  • 2017
  • 2017 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
  • Thomson Reuters
  • 2017
  • 2016 Best Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers in America
  • 2016
  • LIfetime Achievement Award
  • The Legal Intelligencer
  • 2013
  • Bob Kyler Ambassador of Hope Award
  • City of Hope and the Tri-State Labor & Management Council
  • 2012
  • Best Lawyers in America
  • Best Lawyers
  • 2012
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyer
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • 2012
  • PA Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Cmwlth of PA
  • Philadelphia Magazeine
  • 2012
  • AV Rated
  • Martindale - Hubbell
  • 2012
  • Women Lawyers of Distinction Award
  • The Legal Intelligencer
  • 2010
  • Women of Distinction Award
  • Philadelphia Business Journal
  • 2010
  • Hall of Fame
  • Temple UniversityLeague for Entrepreneurial Women
  • 2009
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawers Top 100 Women Lawyers in Philadelphia
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • 2009
  • Agent of Change Award
  • Women's Way
  • 2002
  • Founder's Day Award
  • Temple Law Alumni Association
  • 2002
  • Sandra Day O'Connor Award
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • 1995
  • Labor Human Rights Award
  • Jewish Labor Committee
  • 1994
  • Israel Labor Medal
  • State of Israel Bonds
  • 1993
  • Mary Philbrook Award
  • Women's Law Caucus of Rutgers Law School
  • 1993
  • Vocational Service Award
  • Rotary Club of Philadelphia
  • 1993
  • Attorney of the Year Award
  • Jewish National Fund
  • 1992
  • Achievement Award
  • American Association of University Women
  • 1992
  • Achievement Award
  • Temple University Women's Law Caucus
  • 1992
  • Rosh Pinah Award
  • American Jewish Congress
  • 1991
  • Outstanding Service Award
  • Pennsylvania Citizens' Action
  • 1990
  • Spirit of Life Award
  • City of Hope National Medical Center
  • 1987
View all awards


  • BNA Books
  • •"Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting, National Academy of Arbitrators,” Arbitration of Discrimination Grievances: Arbitral and Judicial Competence Compared
  • 1986
  • BNA Books
  • •“The Freedom of Information Act and the National Labor Relations Board: Recent Developments,” The Labor Lawyer
  • 1985

Speaking Engagements

  • “Women in Law: On the Front Lines of Change” event
  • Women in Law
  • 2018
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • “Public Sector Labor Contracts in Philadelphia: Challenges vs. Rhetoric”
  • 2007
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Panel Member, Annual Symposium on Municipal Unions and Municipal Governance
  • 2002
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Panel Member, Seminar on Negotiations
  • 1997
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • •Panel Member, “Negotiations in the Practice of Law”
  • 1997
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Panel Member, Persuasion Principles"
  • 1996
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Guest Lecturer, "Negotiating a Labor Contract"
  • 1995
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pael 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 1992
  • 1993
  • 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, NJ
  • To Be Lawyer
  • 1992
  • 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
View all speaking engagements

Attorney endorsements

Received (1)
Given (1)
Endorse Deborah
Employment and labor Attorney | Aug 14
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"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!"
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Philadelphia Employment and labor Lawyer Deborah R. Willig
Deborah R. Willig
Employment and labor Attorney
Philadelphia, PA
Licensed for 48 years