Deborah R. Willig

Deborah R. Willig

Willig, Williams & Davidson

Recognized since 1989

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Practice Areas

Employment Law - Individuals

Labor Law - Union

Litigation - Labor and Employment

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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 also shares her many years of experience in representing labor unions with union members in the Chicago area through the firm’s Of Counsel relationship with Illinois Advocates, LLC. She also 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. She was recently elected to the serve on the Board of Directors of Juvenile Law Center for a three-year long term. Willig will also serve on the Committee on Labor and Industry after being selected by Gov.-elect Tom Wolf for this transition review team.

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 Legal Intelligencer Lifetime Achievement Award, 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 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008 and 2007 and one of the Top 100 Women Lawyers in Philadelphia in 2009. American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™ selected her as a "2013 Top Rated Lawyer."

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.


  • 1845 Walnut Street, 24th Floor
    Philadelphia, PA 19103


  • University of Pennsylvania, BA

Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • The District of Columbia Bar


  • AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee - Member
  • American Arbitration Association, Philadelphia Region Labor Advisory Committee - Member
  • American Bar Association - Member
  • College of Labor and Employment Lawyers - Fellow
  • District of Columbia Bar Association - Member
  • French International School of Philadelphia - Board of Directors
  • National Association of Women Lawyers - Member
  • Pennsylvania Association for Justice - Member
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association - Member
  • Philadelphia Bar Association - Member
  • Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association - Member
  • Tau Epsilon Rho Law Society - Member
  • Transition Review Team, Committee on Labor and Industry - Member

Court Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Bar of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

Recognized in The Best Lawyers® in America 2023 for work in:

  • Employment Law - Individuals
  • Labor Law - Union
  • Litigation - Labor and Employment

Special Focus:

  • Employee Benefits
  • Employment
  • Individuals
  • Labor
  • Union


  • 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
  • Martindale - Hubbell, AV Rated
  • Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Hall of Fame, 2009
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Magazine, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Philadelphia Magazine, 2004-present
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Top 100 Women Lawyers in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Magazine, 2009
  • Philadelphia Business Journal Women of Distinction Award, 2010
  • The Legal Intelligencer Women Lawyers of Distinction Award, 2010
  • Bob Kyler Ambassador of Hope Award, City of Hope and the Tri-State Labor & Management Council, 2012
  • The Legal Intelligencer Lifetime Achievement Award, 2013
  • Top Rated Lawyer, American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™, 2013, 2014
  • Fellow in Labor, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, 2014

Additional Areas of Practice:

  • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law

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