Deborah R. Willig

Deborah R. Willig

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Employment & Labor Attorney in Philadelphia, PA

Willig, Williams & Davidson
 | 1845 Walnut Street, 24th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-656-3666
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2004 - 2018
Licensed Since: 1975
Practice Areas:
  • Employment & Labor: Employee (80%),
  • Employee Benefits (20%)
Attorney Profile

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.

About Deborah Willig

Admitted: 1975, Pennsylvania

Professional Webpage:

Honors and Awards:

  • Best Lawyers in America, 2017
  • Fellow in Labor, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, 2014
  • Top Rated Lawyer, American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™, 2014
  • Top Rated Lawyer, American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™, 2013
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, The Legal Intelligencer, 2013
  • Bob Kyler Ambassador of Hope Award, City of Hope and the Tri-State Labor & Management Council, 2012
  • Spirit of Life Award, City of Hope National Medical Center, 1987
  • Outstanding Service Award, Pennsylvania Citizens’ Action, 1990
  • Rosh Pinah Award, American Jewish Congress, 1991
  • Achievement Award, Temple University Women's Law Caucus, 1992
  • Achievement Award, American Association of University Women, 1992
  • Attorney of the Year Award, Jewish National Fund, 1992
  • Vocational Service Award, Rotary Club of Philadelphia, 1993
  • Mary Philbrook Award, Women's Law Caucus of Rutgers Law School, 1993
  • Israel Labor Medal, State of Israel Bonds, 1993
  • Labor Human Rights Award, Jewish Labor Committee, 1994
  • Sandra Day O'Connor Award, Philadelphia Bar Association, 1995
  • Agent of Change Award, Women’s Way, 2002
  • Founder’s Day Award, Temple Law Alumni Association, 2002
  • Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Hall of Fame, 2009
  • Philadelphia Business Journal Women of Distinction Award, 2010
  • The Legal Intelligencer Women Lawyers of Distinction Award, 2010

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • Transition Review Team Member, Committee on Labor and Industry, 2014
  • Temple University Law Alumni Executive Committee, 1976 - 1982
  • Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society, 1980 - Present
  • Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association, 1983 - Present
  • Philadelphia Bar Foundation, 1986 - 1993
  • Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Hearing Committee, 1979 - 1986
  • Board of Visitors, Temple University School of Law, 1992 - 1996
  • American Arbitration Association, Philadelphia Region Labor Advisory Committee, 1992 - Present
  • National Association of Women Lawyers, 1990 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Association for Justice, 1986 - Present
  • District of Columbia Bar Association, 1978 - Present
  • French International School of Philadelphia, Board of Directors, 2007 - Present
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, 1975 - Present
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, 1975 - Present
  • American Bar Association, 1975 - Present
  • AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, 1982 - Present

Scholarly Lectures and Writings:

  • Guest Lecturer, Negotiating a Labor Contract, University Of Pennsylvania, Wharton School Of Economics, 1993
  • Arbitration of Discrimination Grievances: Arbitral and Judicial Competence Compared, Author, "Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting, National Academy of Arbitrators", BNA Books, 1986
  • The Labor Lawyer, Author, "The Freedom of Information Act and the National Labor Relations Board: Recent Developments", BNA Books, 1985


  • Pennsylvania labor and employment law attorney Deborah R. Willig speaks about the negotiation of strong and effective collective bargaining agreements for labor organizations. As Managing Partner of Willig, Williams & Davidson, she discusses how the firm's team of labor lawyers collectively have more than 250 years of experience in negotiating labor agreements and that the firm is comprised of tough negotiators with a proven track record of success. The firm's labor law attorneys have successfully negotiated many difficult and hard-fought contracts for high profile private and public sector clients up and down the East Coast. Willig, Williams & Davidson is also unique in that it is the only union-side firm in the Philadelphia-area with a fully-staffed benefits department., Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Attorney Deborah Willig Discusses Collective Bargaining Agreements, 2012
  • Firm Managing Partner and Pennsylvania labor attorney Deborah R. Willig was named a 2010 Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction., Woman of Distinction Award, Philadelphia Business Journal, 2010
  • Pennsylvania labor attorney Deborah R. Willig, managing partner of Philadelphia union-side labor law firm Willig, Williams & Davidson and the first woman chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, spoke at the Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee Pathways to Leadership program., Profession Committee Pathways to Leadership, Philadelphia Bar Association

Educational Background:

  • Temple University School of Law, J.D. , 1975
  • University of Pennsylvania, B.A., Cum Laude, 1971
Office Location for Deborah R. Willig

1845 Walnut Street
24th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103


Deborah R. Willig:

Last Updated: 12/28/2017

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