Yale Law Women (YLW) is pleased to announce its ninth annual Top Ten Family Friendly Firms list. The 2014 Top Ten Firms, in alphabetical order, are:
ARNOLD & PORTER BAKER BOTTS HOGAN LOVELLS US HUNTON & WILLIAMS KIRKLAND & ELLIS MORRISON & FOERSTER MUNGER, TOLLES & OLSON ORRICK, HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE PAUL, WEISS, RIFKIND, WHARTON & GARRISON VINSON & ELKINS YLW congratulates these Top Ten Firms for their leadership in developing and implementing family friendly policies and practices. The Top Ten Family Friendly Firms Initiative is an annual policy survey of law firms that are ranked in the Vault 100. The survey—which explores important family friendliness indicators such as the billable hour requirement, part-time and flex-time options, caregiver leave policies, and childcare availability—collects data to capture both the policies at these law firms and their utilization by male and female attorneys. In addition, the survey examines indicators of gender equality at law firms, such as in partnership promotions and composition of leadership committees. YLW would like to highlight several features of this year’s initiative:
First, in addition to our annual survey of Vault 100 firms and Yale Law School alumni currently working at these firms, we surveyed current Yale Law School students for the first time this year. We believe that current students add a valuable perspective to the information we typically gather, and we have included a selection of their responses in this report. Data collected from the student survey did not factor into determining the Top Ten Firms.
Second, YLW has made an effort to define family broadly. While we kept our focus on the policies that benefit caregivers, we also asked about policies capable of cultivating an institutional culture that values life outside of work. As part of our effort to be more inclusive, we edited the survey to refer to attorneys identifying as male and attorneys identifying as female, as opposed to male and female attorneys or men or women attorneys, when asking for data disaggregated by gender. For ease of reading in this report, though, we retain the male/female and men/women nomenclature.
Third, YLW remains committed to promoting the status of women in the legal profession. As in past years, we have continued to focus on gender equity in law firm leadership positions. We believe this factor is one important way for firms to demonstrate their commitment to family friendliness and work-life balance.
Lastly, we want this report to inspire and enable action on the part of firms and current and future members of the legal profession. To that end, we have highlighted some policies and developments from the Top Ten Firms. We have also included a short list of recommendations for students who want to factor family friendliness into their employment decisions.
I. Family: Broadly Defined We heard from both current Yale Law students and alumni that family friendliness must encompass more than parental leave and childcare availability. While those benefits are necessary, there was wide acknowledgement that family friendliness necessarily entails attention to work-life balance. For some employees, caregiver responsibilities often include caring for aging parents or other family members. For others, family “I really care about awareness of the need to care for friendliness simply means an ability family members—not only children, but parents, to pursue non-career life goals. siblings, and extended relations. Often when there is a serious health need an individual relies on a family When asked whether they had a network for support. I want to make sure I work in a committee to address work-life place that would offer me flexibility to support my balance issues, 83% of firms family.” reported having one. Nearly all —Third-Year Student (Female) firms also reported having flexible full-time work options that allowed employees to work remotely. One alumnus respondent described his firm’s family friendliness policies as “strong and striving to improve,” and noted that the lack of facetime requirements were integral in helping him strike the right balance between work and outside obligations. A. Billable Hour Requirements The freedom to pursue non-career life goals and maintain relationships outside of work is reflected in the fact that billable hour requirements were cited by students as the most important factor and by alumni as the second most important factor for evaluating family friendliness.
“Personally I care a lot about work-life balance and think that family-friendliness might be an indicator of this balance but is also a limiting way in which to view work-life balance. I really look for a workplace that is as flexible as possible in allowing employees to pursue non-career life goals, whether or not those goals revolve around family and children.” —Third-Year Student (Male)
Participating firms reported actual full-time billable hour credits of 1,828 on average for associates, with female attorneys billing about 70 hours less than male attorneys. Due to omitted responses for this particular question, we have reason to believe “One of my best friends split with the woman he was that this underestimates actual hours planning to marry in his first six months at [his law billed by attorneys in the Vault 100 firm] because he said the thirty minutes he spent firms. Notably, over half of the talking to her every evening were thirty minutes he participating firms required full-time could be sleeping instead. I don't want a similar fate associates to work a minimum to befall my relationship. So, I feel like I am taking a number of billable hours in order to professional risk by choosing to work for a smaller receive a bonus; the average shop with more humane hours, but having a life is threshold was over 1,900 hours. The worth infinitely more to me than prestige or clerkship highest target was over 2,100 hours. bonuses.” —Third-Year Student (Female) Firms also differed in how inclusive they were in crediting time spent on pro bono work, committee participation, mentoring, and professional development activities toward an attorney’s billable hour requirements. More than half of the firms counted pro bono work as fully billable. Meanwhile, only a handful of firms considered committee participation, mentoring, or professional development activities as billable at all; even for those firms, these hours were typically subject to a cap. For firms without a billable hour target, inclusivity in crediting non-client time is a less meaningful measure. B. Part-Time and Flex-Time Policies Alumni respondents currently working at Vault 100 firms cited the availability of part-time and flex-time options as the most important factor in assessing family friendliness. Out of six major categories, 60% of alumni surveyed ranked part-time and flex-time policies and utilization either first or second in terms of importance. Firms are responding to the concern about flexibility by “Venue matters, so encouraging the ability to work providing these options. from home by providing funds for a home office set up, and letting it be known that it's acceptable, goes a As in past years, virtually all of the long way to helping ease the big firm burden. [My participating firms surveyed offered firm] has a zero face time policy, which greatly helps. part-time schedules and most Mandatory vacation, i.e., docking pay if vacation isn't offered flex-time options. However, taken every X months, would also be [a] step in the offering these options is not right direction.” meaningful if the policies only exist —Staff Attorney (Male) in writing. Alumni expressed skepticism about the likelihood of remaining partner-eligible after taking advantage of alternative schedules. Additionally, alumni and students pointed to the fact that although part-time and flex-time options are equally available to men and women officially, in practice these policies are more often used by women than by men.
In fact, an average of 80.5% of the attorneys who utilized part-time options were women. Encouraging men and women to take part-time schedules and not penalizing their career prospects for doing so are important steps towards a more family friendly legal profession. Industry leaders in this regard offer not only part-time and flex-time options, but also report that nearly all associates promoted to partner in 2013 have taken advantage of their firm’s part-time or flexible full-time policies. “My firm's stated policies are all very family friendly. On average, an attorney working part-time billed 1,348 hours in 2013, compared to 1,828 hours for full-time associates and 1,590 hours for full-time partners. These figures show that, consistent with the results from last year’s survey, parttime associates worked approximately 60% of the hours of full-time associates on average.
Parental leave is generous, non-parental leave is extremely flexible, hours are flexible and not necessarily high (unless you want them to be). That being said, almost no one I work for (i.e., partners) has a spouse with a job. So the overall impression/culture is: This can be a good place to be an associate and have children and work flexible hours etc; but that's not how anyone makes partner, and partners themselves do not have lives that are conducive to having children and a working spouse.” —Associate (Female)
C. Family Care Across all participating firms, primary caregivers were offered 16 weeks of paid leave on average. Secondary caregivers were offered 5.6 weeks of paid leave on average. With respect to utilization, approximately 9% of female attorneys and 9% of male attorneys took some form of parental leave in 2013. Important also is the percentage of primary and secondary caregivers who used the maximum amount of parental leave. Out of those associates taking any parental leave, over 90% of women took the maximum amount of parental leave, whereas only about 50% of men took the maximum amount of leave. Offering generous leave is one thing, but feeling comfortable enough to use it is another. At a handful of firms, all attorneys, regardless of gender, used the “While the firm has flex-time policies for up to 1 year maximum amount of available leave after return from parental leave, the informal culture when taking any leave. frowns upon people who take [advantage of] those policies. I think the general view is that if you are Nearly all participating firms offered part-time then you aren't placing your career high on-site or back-up childcare, and enough on the list of your priorities.” several firms have expanded their —Associate (Female) back-up emergency care services to encompass adult care and elder care. Finally, more than half of firms have moved away from gendered leave policies to provide “primary caregiver leave” and “secondary caregiver leave,” rather than maternity or paternity leave.
II. Gender Equity: The Leaky Pipeline Gender equity continues to be a significant factor for both students and alumni evaluating a firm’s family friendliness, and this is true for both male and female respondents. “I think it will become more important to me in the In 2013, women comprised about future, but at this stage in my life gender equity and 44% of associates with less than parity were much bigger concerns to me than family three years of experience and of friendliness in choosing a firm.” associates with three or more years —Second-Year Student (Female) of experience, but only 18% of equity partners. Women’s representation on Executive or Management Committees also remained low; only 21% of Executive or Management Committee members were women. In addition, women only made up 22% of Compensation Committees. By comparison, 40% of Hiring Committees and over 50% of Diversity Committees were comprised of women.
III. Spotlighting Family Friendly Ideas in the Top Ten Law firms regularly seek to develop or refine family friendly policies and practices to foster a more inclusive and sustainable atmosphere for their attorneys. Besides recognizing the Top Ten firms this year for their demonstrated commitment on this front, we would like to highlight two categories of policies or developments reported by these firms. While other firms—including other Top Ten Firms—may have similar policies or practices as those described below and attributed to specific firms, we intend for these examples to merely illustrate the kind of innovation in the legal profession we hope to see more of in the coming years. A. On/Off-Ramping Support for Extended Leaves While on- and off-ramping support is generally provided for attorneys taking short-term caregiver leave, some firms have made an additional commitment to provide this support for extended periods of time and for leaves not exclusively associated with caregiving. For example, Hunton & Williams has a gender-neutral Pathways for Success program, which allows lawyers who desire to take time off from legal practice to focus on personal demands to take Project Lawyer status for up to five years. During that time, the lawyer may take on discrete projects as his or her schedule permits, but is not required or expected to do so. Another example is Arnold & Porter’s “On-Ramp Off-Ramp” program, which allows attorneys to take up to three years of unpaid leave, during which the attorney is kept in contact with the firm and invited to trainings and firm events. Similarly, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s O-Connection allows leaves of up to three years, during which the firm maintains contact and provides attorneys access and opportunities for training and work. These programs allow attorneys the latitude of planning an extended—but bounded—leave of absence. 5
Other firms have sought to create an on-ramp by increasing opportunities for departed attorneys. For example, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison does not have a formal on-ramp/off-ramp policy, but the firm maintains contact with departed attorneys and hire them back after long absences due to parenting choices, geographical moves, etc. While the support described thus far has been cabined to current or former attorneys of the firms highlighted, some firms have begun to create opportunities for non-alumni as well. As an example, Baker Botts and Hogan Lovells, along with two other firms, have recently signed on to offer one-year fellowships through the OnRamp Fellowship. The fellowship is aimed at facilitating the re-entry of experienced women lawyers; it provides lawyers an opportunity to demonstrate their value in the marketplace while also increasing their experience, skills, and legal contacts. B. Active Women’s, Diversity, and Work-Life Balance Committees Many firms have established women’s initiatives, diversity committees, and/or work-life balance working groups. These range from social to educational or professional in nature, and may involve regular activities for group members over the course of a year. While these activities are important and often form the basis of future mentoring relationships, some firms have formally or explicitly added an advocacy component to these committees. For example, Morrison & Foerster’s Women’s Initiative Committee has four subcommittees, each tasked to make recommendations with a different focus: (1) professional and business development; (2) recruiting and retention; (3) overseeing the reduced-hours program; and (4) engagement. Similarly, Kirkland & Ellis’ Firmwide Diversity Integration Task Force, in coordination with other affinity groups, develops annual initiatives. The Task Force’s 2013 initiatives included: providing sponsorship and targeted professional development for women and diverse attorneys; monitoring attorney reviews at all levels to maximize teamwork, diverse leadership, mentoring and inclusive staffing; and facilitating programming on implicit bias and communicating across differences. Active and visible committees and advocacy of this nature also help promote family friendliness and an inclusive work environment. For Munger, Tolles & Olson, the visibility may be in the sheer statistics: 75% of the 2013 partner class was women, and more than half of the associates promoted to partner in the past five years have been women. It may take restructuring to introduce visibility and change. In 2013, Vinson & Elkins underwent a restructuring of their internal diversity and inclusion framework to include purposeful involvement and oversight from by the Chairman and Managing Partner. Throughout 2013, the firm has consciously worked to involve male leadership partners in conversations and activities that specifically focus on women’s challenges in the workplace.
IV. Recommendations for Students Surveyed students expressed a range of views regarding the importance of family friendliness in their employment decisions. Some felt that firms were inherently not family friendly or accommodating of work-life balance and have chosen not to pursue employment at law firms for that reason. Others expect their law firm employment to be temporary; they intend to pursue other kinds of employment or seek out a firm with more family friendly options once they decide to have a family. The students who wanted the option to pursue a longer tenure at a law firm strongly considered a firm’s family friendliness, even though they may struggle with how to rank family friendliness in relation to other factors like prestige and compensation. Students who want the option of making a long career at the law firm they plan to enter would benefit from evaluating family friendliness and work-life balance up front. Based on information from alumni and Top Ten firms, students might consider asking:
whether the firm has a face time requirement or offers the option to work remotely;
whether the firm promotes associates who have taken advantage of alternative work schedules;
whether men at the firm take advantage of the firm’s work-life balance benefits;
whether partners are part of a dual income family;
whether the firm has associates or partners with young children; and
whether the firm has gender parity on its Executive Committee.
Below we’ve included some additional points of consideration from current attorneys at Vault 100 law firms, in their own words. “[S]ome partners, when asked by a client to have a call at night or on the weekend, will check with the associates on the team and try to find a time that imposes least on their schedules; and will also think hard about whether everyone really needs to be on the call . . . Other partners however, will just propose the next time that the partner is available and then demand that the rest of the team be there, and then complain loudly if anyone isn't available, especially if for non-work-related reasons. I think the family-friendliness of a firm is largely a function of which type of partner exists in greater quantities. Training can help make the latter type of partner more like the former.” —Associate (Male)
“I think giving women the option of a pay cut for 1,850 billable hour expectation per year with no partnership penalty would be extremely helpful to many women. Also, having a great portal to work from home is really helpful for litigation work particularly. (If you have the option to do a few hours of brief drafting at 5:00 a.m. and then leave at 5:00 or 5:30 p.m., that is much more do-able than needing to stay until 9:00 p.m., for example.)” —Associate (Female) “Most law firm work is fundamentally not "family friendly". It is impossible to do interesting trial or deal work with a predictable schedule. You can't not come in for trial or on a closing because it is your day off. Law firms should give good parental leave and offer flex time, but associates can't reasonably expect to "have it all" (meaning top work with flexible hours). One metric that is highly relevant in determining family friendliness is not partner's gender, but whether partner's spouse works. A male partner whose significant other works full time is in my experience more conscious of work-life issues than a female partner whose SO doesn't.” —Associate (Female) “Pay attention to the numbers. Firms can justify every decision, particularly on partnership, partner compensation, and anything that is subjective. But numbers are numbers. If women are not succeeding in the partnership or leaving after they make partner, there is likely some serious implicit bias in the system. Most of the programs are aimed at keeping women associates at the firm, which is a worthy goal. But there has to be an analysis of the partnership.” —Non-Equity Partner (Female)
Yale Law Women produces its annual Top Ten Family Friendly Firms List to monitor trends in family friendliness in the Vault 100, raise awareness of gender disparities within the legal profession, highlight progress and innovative solutions, and identify areas for improvement. We believe that the legal profession should allow all attorneys to cultivate their best selves in their work and balance a challenging and engaging career with personal interests and obligations. Please visit the Yale Law Women website at http://yalelawwomen.org/ for additional information regarding the Top Ten Family Friendly Firms Initiative and our other efforts to advance the status of women in the legal profession. We would like to thank the entire Top Ten Committee for their outstanding work designing, executing, and analyzing this yearâ€™s survey to produce the annual Top Ten List. Top Ten Family Friendly Firms Committee Committee Chair Luci Yang Firm Communications Chairs Keith Jamieson & Claire Simonich Survey Design Chairs Stephanie Krent & Devorah Toren Survey Management Chair Kathryn Loomis Data Analysis Chairs Aurelia Chaudhury & Monika Kothari Public Relations Chairs Michelle Cho & Jie Min Student Education Chairs Hana Bajramovic & Akunna Cook Chair of Yale Law Women Jessi Samuels Please direct all inquiries to Luci Yang at email@example.com.
Survey Methodology Consistent with previous years, Yale Law Women invited firms listed in the 2014 Vault Law 100 to participate in this survey. All data collected reflect statistics from the 2013 calendar year and only include U.S. office locations. Survey questions fell into several broad categories: Scheduling and Hours o Part-Time and Flex-Time Policies o Billable Hours o Bonus Eligibility Career Development o Partner Promotions o Leadership Committees Leave Policies o Childcare and Leave Policies o Sick Days and Vacation Days o Extended Leave Opportunities In addition to examining formal policies available at these law firms, the survey investigated how firms implemented those policies and whether attorneys utilized them. Survey questions focused on three inquiries: whether attorneys utilized these policies; which attorneys availed themselves of these policies by gender; and how attorneys utilized these policies. Firm responses were weighted based on a concurrent survey of Yale Law School alumni (both men and women) currently working at the Vault 100 firms. These alumni were asked about the relative importance of each category of family friendly policies and practices. Firm responses are reported in the aggregate, and responses from individual firms are kept strictly confidential. This year, current Yale Law School students were also surveyed. They were asked about their intention to pursue employment at a law firm and the relative importance of each category of family friendly policies and practices. However, responses were used only for informational purposes, and did not factor into determining the Top Ten Firms.
Category Honors Yale Law Women recognizes firms that have demonstrated superior performance in specific categories of the Top Ten survey. Though not exhaustive, the categories highlighted this year are ones that Yale Law School students and alumni have identified as particularly important for evaluating family friendliness. YLW applauds the following firms for their achievement in these categories: Utilization of Part-Time
Highest average of % female associates and % male associates on part-time schedules
Arnold & Porter* Duane Morris Hunton & Williams* Squire Sanders Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Partner Promotions of Attorneys on Part/Flex-Time
Promoted more than 1 equity partner who was or has been on part-time or flexible full-time schedules
Kirkland & Ellis* Morrison & Foerster* Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe* Perkins Coie Seyfarth Shaw
Gender Parity in Partner Promotions
Promoted 5 or more equity partners, at least 40% of whom were female
Covington & Burling Morrison & Foerster* Norton Rose Fulbright Ropes & Gray Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Utilization of Parental Leave Policies
Highest average of % female associates, % male associates, and % partners taking the maximum length of paid caregiver leave
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft Dorsey & Whitney Hunton & Williams* Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe* Seyfarth Shaw
Gender Equitable Composition of Executive Committee
Executive (or Management) Committee is composed of at least 40% women
Morrison & Foerster* Reed Smith Squire Sanders
*denotes that a firm is also a 2014 Top Ten Family Friendly Firm