Biglaw, Gender, Rankings, Women's Issues

The 2012 Top Ten Family-Friendly Firms According to Yale Law

If you’ve been thinking about having a family while working in Biglaw, most would have these words of wisdom for you: GFL. However, if you’ve decided to “pull the goalie,” then we’ve got some good news for you: at some firms, you can truly have it all.

The Yale Law Women are out with their annual list of the top ten family-friendly firms. We cover this list every year (click here for our posts in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008). This year’s list has changed dramatically from last year’s — only four firms have returned, with six new firms joining them.

But which firms made the cut? Which firms had the best options available to both men and women? Let’s take a look at the latest ranking for the most family-friendly firms….

Here’s the list of the most family-friendly firms according to Yale Law Women (in alphabetical order):

Arnold & Porter
Crowell & Moring
Hunton & Williams
Latham & Watkins
Littler Mendelson
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Perkins Coie
Reed Smith

Six firms fell by the wayside this year in terms of overall family friendliness: Covington & Burling, Dorsey & Whitney, Kirkland & Ellis, Mayer Brown, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and Sidley Austin. Sounds like these firms need to spend a few moments in the time-out corner to think about what they’ve done.

The four returning firms are Arnold & Porter, Mintz Levin, Perkins Coie, and WilmerHale. Congratulations for doing something right repeatedly! Believe it or not, that’s actually a real accomplishment for a Biglaw firm.

Perhaps an even greater accomplishment, however, is being named in not one, but two rankings lists for the best flex-time and work-life balance opportunities available for attorneys. Released in late Fall 2011, the National Association for Female Executives/Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms for Women list included Hunton & Williams, Latham, Littler, Orrick, Perkins Coie, and WilmerHale.

But Perkins Coie has definitely earned the most bragging rights. The firm not only made its way onto both of the above lists, but it also landed a spot on Fortune’s list of the Best Companies to Work For (with a hat tip for its “Best Perk” — 45% of employees telecommute or work at home at least 20% of the time).

The ABA Journal has a great round-up of useful information about some of the study’s findings:

  • The average lawyer working a part-time schedule puts in 60 percent of the hours worked by full-time lawyers.
  • A third of firms provide 16 or more weeks of paid childcare leave to primary caregivers. On average, mothers were offered 16 weeks of leave, while fathers were offered 7.5 weeks of leave.
  • Seventy percent of firms offered on-site or backup child care. Several firms have expanded their back-up emergency care services to include adult care and elder care.
  • While women currently make up 43 percent of the associate pool, only 30 percent of newly promoted partners last year were women. Eight firms, however, achieved gender parity in partner promotions: Arnold & Porter, Fried Frank, Jenner & Block, Littler Mendelson, Paul Weiss, Perkins Coie, Wachtell Lipton and WilmerHale.
  • Seventeen percent of equity partners are women, and 12 percent of executive management committee partners are women.

What does this mean for you? Women are still being mommy-tracked, but more and more firms are at least attempting to offer viable programs that will allow them to work toward partnership. On the flip side of the coin, men have also availed themselves of family-friendly options, like part-time and flex-time hours.

The good news: it’s finally becoming more socially acceptable to see your family while working a Biglaw job. Perhaps when you write your dramatic departure memo, you’ll actually know your child’s name. The bad news: some firms still have a lot of catching up to do — there’s “substantial room for improvement.” Let’s see if more Biglaw firms have what it takes to make it onto next year’s list, or better yet, stay there.

2012 Top Ten Family Friendly Firms [Yale Law Women]
Top Family Friendly Law Firms Named; Six Firms Get Bounced from List [ABA Journal]

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