Work/Life Balance

Latham & Watkins Increases Parental Leave

In a move that may prompt changes at other law firms, Latham & Watkins has increased paid parental leave for associates.

The law firm has increased paid leave for birth mothers who are primary caregivers to 18 weeks from 12 weeks, for adoptive parents who are primary caregivers to 18 weeks from four weeks, and for new fathers and other primary caregivers to 10 weeks from four weeks, the Recorder reports. Nonprimary caregivers get four weeks off, according to Above the Law.

The firm is also allowing associates returning from parental leave to work at a reduced schedule for six months without full-time billable-hour requirements.

Richard Bress, chairman of the associates committee, told the Recorder the firm changed the policy to help associates balance work and family. He said the policy not only gives more leave time, it also broadens the definition of primary caregivers. “Before, we didn’t have the concept of a primary caregiver for the father,” he said.

Joan Williams, the director of the Center for WorkLife Law at Hastings College of the Law, praised Latham’s decision to allow associates to return to work at a reduced schedule. She said only a few law firms offer that option, and the center may designate the policy a best practice.

Latham’s move follows a decision this summer by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to increase paid parental leave to 18 weeks for primary caregivers.

“I think law firms are trying very, very hard because they are truly alarmed about the rates of attrition among lawyers they want to keep,” Williams said.

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