Law Firms

Salary Freezes and Layoffs Don’t Keep Law Firms Off Best Places to Work List


Five law firms have landed on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 best places to work, an accomplishment they are touting on their websites and in press releases.

Alston & Bird, 36th on the list, says in a press release that it is the first and only law firm to make the list 10 years in a row. Arnold & Porter, ranked 21st, notes on its website that it was the most highly placed law firm on the list for two years in a row.

Left out of the spin, says Above the Law, is the fact that Alston & Bird has imposed a salary freeze and another firm on the list—Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe—has frozen salaries and laid off 40 people. Another firm, Bingham McCutchen, laid off staffers last spring and summer.

Fortune recognizes the Orrick layoffs, saying 20 of them were lawyers and 20 were legal secretaries. (ABAJournal.com previously put the number at 40 associates and counsel laid off, along with 35 staffers.) But Fortune notes the firm paid bonuses to its hourly workers despite the staff cuts.

Here are the law firms on the list and Fortune’s summary of why they made it:

No. 21 is Arnold & Porter. “Law firm offers world-class benefits to staff and attorneys: 18 weeks’ paid leave for maternity and adoption, $5,000 for adoption fees, $30,000 for fertility services, free onsite fitness center, on- and off-site child care.” Arnold & Porter also made a list published by Working Mother Magazine of the 100 best companies for working moms.

No. 30 is Bingham McCutchen. “Ex-governors Steve Merrill of New Hampshire and Pete Wilson of California are among this law firm’s 343 partners, 21 percent of whom are women, 8 percent minorities.”

No. 36 is Alston & Bird. “This 115-year-old law firm is heaven for parents: three months’ paid leave for new moms, adoption benefits up to $7,000, special parking for pregnant moms, onsite child care, and a ‘maternity closet’ to recycle clothing.”

No. 82 is Perkins Coie. “A support staffer gave this impressive list of her benefits: $2,000 in technology flex plan allowance, $80 for wellness program participation, $475 for 20th anniversary with firm, $1,500 performance bonus, $50 Nordstrom gift card, $3,500 year-end bonus.”

No. 87 is Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. “Law firm whose roots go back to Civil War paid bonuses to hourly workers despite economic crunch that forced layoffs of 20 lawyers and 20 legal secretaries.”

Alston & Bird’s press release notes that law firms now offer better and more progressive benefits since it first made the list a decade ago. At that time, the law firm was recognized for its workplace diversity, cutting-edge technology and flexible work arrangements. These accomplishments are now considered standard among top law firms.

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