May 03, 2011 Practice Points

Yale Law Women Survey Names Top 100 Family-Friendly Law Firms

By Patricia O'Prey

Yale Law Women recently released a survey of the Vault Top 100 Law Firms from the perspective of their work-life balance policies. WilmerHale; Mayer Brown LLP; Arnold & Porter LLP; Covington & Burling LLP; Dorsey & Whitney LLP; Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo LLP; Perkin Coie LLP; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; and Sidley Austin LLP were named among the top 10 family-friend firms for 2011.

In releasing the survey results, Yale Law Women (YLW) stated that “[a]s the legal field heads toward recovery after the recent financial crisis, YLW believes that the focus on family-friendly firm policies and policies designed for the retention of women remains more important and pressing than ever.” In addition to the top 10 firms, Yale Law Women released statistics on work-life balance policies from the survey firms. Thirty-six percent of respondents offered so-called off-ramp/on-ramp programs that allow lawyers to leave the firm and return, compared to just 24 percent of the firms surveyed in 2010. Many firms offer childcare facilities, care services for the elderly, lactation rooms, $5,000 reimbursement for the costs associated with adopting a child, and formal or informal support networks for attorneys trying to balance family responsibilities with their careers. One hundred percent of the responding firms offered part-time options, and 98 percent offered flex-time possibilities. Despite these powerful statistics, YLW remains concerned about the lack of women leaders in firms, with women making up only 18 percent of firm management committees and 27 percent of newly promoted partners in 2010. In addition, YLW discussed the possible negative consequences of adopting a part-time schedule, pointing out that 81 percent of attorney who worked part-time were women and that just 5 percent of the partners promoted in 2010 had ever worked part-time.

Patricia O'Prey works at Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP in New York, New York.

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