Our exit interviews indicated that the challenge of balancing work and family life was causing great women lawyers to opt out. We also see that millennial men are placing greater value on family time than earlier generations. We wanted to be more creative about the ways we help our lawyers be successful, both professionally and personally, especially as fewer top students are choosing law, and fewer lawyers are choosing to stay in the profession.
In 2015, we introduced the most generous parental leave policy in our profession: 22 weeks of paid leave and up to 9 months of job protection. We extended our non-primary caregiver leave to six weeks.
Upon return to work, we offer help with the transition back to a career that often demands long, unpredictable hours. During the first month back from primary caregiver leave, we offer a 50% workload expectation at full pay. And we give new parents the option of working predictable hours – up to a maximum of six hours daily during this period. After the first month, we work with our lawyers who want flexible work arrangements.
We also created the role of Leave Liaison to support our professionals and their teams in managing successful leaves.
In 2016, 33 lawyers took advantage of our primary caregiver leave program. This included 5 male lawyers, and we expect that number to double this year. Many more have commented on how much they value this benefit. Twenty percent of our new partners in 2016 had utilized our flexible work arrangements on their path to partnership.
Supporting parents is a no-brainer. We’ve come up with some creative approaches to help top talent tailor their schedules so they can be successful at work and at home. We plan to keep innovating in the area. Ultimately, the key is eliminating any stigma around using these programs – and that’s happening as more rising stars take advantage of them.