Parental Leave Policies Are Getting Boosts at Top Law Firms
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parental leave

Summary: The top law firms are recognizing the need for better parental leave policies for their attorneys that welcome new babies into their families.

Long exhausting hours are the norm for lawyers. Throw in the time it takes to try and raise a family and many attorneys find it nearly impossible. Having a new baby is already an exhausting venture without the worries and time that goes into keeping up an active law practice.


Law firms are becoming more understanding of this problem that new parent attorneys are facing. Generous parental leave policies have become the new trend in law firms. The new going rate as advertised by Bloomberg BNA is 16 to 18 weeks of paid leave for the mothers and around six weeks for the father. Law firms are also allowing their attorneys to use paid sick, vacation leave, or unpaid leave to make their time off longer.

Hogan Lovells is the leader so far with the most paid leave. They offer 20 weeks to the primary caregiver, 12 weeks to the primary caregiver fathers. The firms offering 18 weeks for the mothers or primary caregiver includes Wilmer Hale, Kirkland & Ellis, McKenzie, Cleary Gottlieb, and Norton Rose Fulbright. The leading firms for paid time off for the fathers or nonprimary caregivers are Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis at 10 weeks off. Firms that have shorter time off policies noted that they will make allowances for extra time off if needed.

Senior law editor at Vault, Matt Moody, told Bloomberg BNA, “As a rule, the top law firms tend to give a little more primary care leave than the investment banks. Many of the big law firms moved to 20 weeks for primary care leave, whereas in the banking industry, 16 weeks seems to be the top of the market.” Moody added, “As for secondary parental leave, we’ve seen that move up a little more in both industries, but there’s not really an industry norm. The secondary care leave lags far behind.”

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Most lawyers fear taking more time off than absolutely needed. As Moody explained, “We see a lot of associates saying that they worry about taking leave and being able to stay on track” for partnership and bonuses.

Some law firms are providing additional services to their returning lawyers to make the transition back to full-time work easier. The best firms understand that to attract the best talent, they need to provide benefits and policies that are appealing and can be adjusted to the individual attorney’s needs. Eve Howard at Hogan Lovells stated, “The bottom line is we want to attract and retain the best legal talent.”

Attracting the best talent for Hogan Lovells includes the availability of lactation rooms, a pump and ship service for those breastfeeding lawyers that have to travel for work, and an affinity group for new parents. Reed Smith also has a pump and ship type service for their breastfeeding attorneys traveling on business trips. Other law firms like Wilmer Hale allow attorneys to telecommute up to 40 percent of their schedule and some of their offices have on-site emergency childcare facilities.

Even international law firms are joining the trend to increase parental leave time off. DLA Piper is giving their Hong-Kong based female attorneys 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. A ten week is the minimum required by law. The men will get 10 days full pay, which is three times the legal minimum.

Do you think it reasonable for new parents to get over two months of paid time off? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about parental leave policies, read these articles:




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