Published: Jun 10, 2015
BigLaw firms are notorious, whether they deserve the reputation or not, for long hours and cut-throat associates angling for partnership at the expense of their other co-workers and personal lives. In an effort to create a family-friendly atmosphere and more positive work environment, many law firms have instituted affinity groups and generous parental leave policies.
One Vault 100 law firm, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP, recently announced a new policy that allows attorneys who are primary caregivers up to 22 weeks of leave with full pay. Additionally, the firm will provide two months of job-guaranteed leave unpaid; this means that primary caregivers can focus on caring for their newborns for nine months knowing that their jobs are secure.
Orrick’s chairman and CEO Mitch Zuklie explained that the policy was an effort to address the issues surrounding the retention of female attorneys beyond the junior associate level faced by many BigLaw firms stating the policy was meant to “inspire [women] to stay and lead.”
Zuklie also noted that “creating more opportunities for women will require changes in policy, culture and leadership,” bringing up a concern voiced by many associates who participated in Vault’s 2015 Law Firm Associate Survey--What good are these generous parental leave policies if taking leave is frowned upon or you no longer receive good assignments as a result?
The attitude that parents, particularly mothers, who take leave are somehow less dedicated to the firm and less capable as attorneys needs to change before law firms can truly become “family-friendly” and women with children have the same partnership prospects as their male counterparts. Statements such as the one made by Zulkie that indicate that the firm wants mothers to make partner can go a long way in changing the attitudes of the firm leadership responsible for evaluating associates and making promotion decisions.
Is your firm family-friendly? Is taking parental leave encouraged? Let us know in the comments!
Read More:The 25 Best Law Firms for Diversity for Women
In honor of Mother’s Day (don’t panic, there’s still time to send your mom flowers), Vault is pleased to congratulate the law firms, chosen by Yale Law Women, that make it easier for moms (and dads) to be actively involved in their children’s lives while still billing those hours! Yale Law Women’s Top Ten Family Friendly Firms Initiative surveys the polices of law firms ranking in Vault’s Top 100 that indicate family friendliness to highlight positive trends in the legal industry and draw attention to areas that need improvement.
Below please find the Yale Law Women’s 2015 Top Ten Firms, in alphabetical order:
New on this year’s list are Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Duane Morris; and WilmerHale.
Earlier this month, the National Association of Women Lawyers released its “Report of the Eight Annual NAWL National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms,” a survey of 200 of the largest law firms in the United States for 2013, that mirrored the findings in Vault’s 2013 Law Firm Associate Survey. While some of the results were depressing, possible gender pay gap, barriers to promotion, the NAWL Report also highlighted some indicators that female attorneys should take note of when looking for their dream firm job.
Well, lady lawyers, the results are in. You will likely be disappointed, but probably not overly surprised, to learn that you’re still getting paid less than your male counterparts and working in the lowest-status attorney positions in the firm.
The journey to becoming an attorney is a windy road filled with late-night study sessions, high-pressure exams, and tough competition—all of which can contribute to mental health challenges. With an estimated 40% of law students experiencing depression by graduation, it is important to understand that you are not alone if you are suffering from depression.