We will now announce what we view as the year’s ten biggest stories in law-firm land. We’ve divided them into two groups: the top five stories on the business side, and the top five stories on the gossip side. Collectively these stories reflect the combination of edification and entertainment that we seek to provide here at ATL. We’ll start with the #5 stories in each group and work our way up.
The year that’s about to end has been full of “business and the law” stories. Most of the news has been terrible. But it really hasn’t been all doom and gloom.
Our fifth-place story on the business end of the legal industry is objectively positive news. Read about it after the jump.
Here’s our #5 story, a major trend among the nation’s leading law firms: more and more firms are granting lawyers 18 weeks of parental leave.
This is a sizable increase from the 12 weeks that used to be standard throughout Biglaw. Not all firms are at 18 weeks; some are still at 12, and some in between 12 and 18. But the industry leaders are at 18, and the momentum is going in that direction. To see how the different firms stack up, check out Justin Bernold’s handy table of maternity leave policies. (A table of paternity leave policies is available in this post, which also discusses some reasons for differences in maternity and paternity leave policies.)
With all of our coverage of work / life balance, helping parents is something that many firms are starting to understand. For both women and men, extending the time you can stay home with a newborn or adopted child is a big perk. And let’s give the firms some credit: an extra six weeks off for parents essentially means six weeks of foregone revenue for the firm.
It’s a cost to firms, but a benefit to families everywhere. Given all the bad news — check back for stories #4 through #1 — let’s not forget that some positive things happened in Biglaw in 2008.