Law Firms

BigLaw firm offers associates a voluntary year off and stipends to help

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Ropes & Gray is offering current and incoming associates a year off from the law firm, along with financial help to do it.

The program is voluntary, and associates can decline to participate, report Above the Law, Law360 and The law firm has no plans for furloughs or layoffs, and it stresses that the program was not implemented because of financial stress.

“The firm is healthy and the business is strong,” the firm said in a statement published in full by Above the Law. “Our lawyer activity levels are on pace with 2019, which was an outstanding year.”

Above the Law and point out that law firms offered similar programs in 2009 during the recession. Ropes & Gray’s offer may be the first by a BigLaw firm this year, according to the articles.

Participating associates in the Ropes & Gray program have two alternatives: a sabbatical year off or a fellowship year away from the firm. They will have to choose whether to participate by Oct. 1.

Associates who choose the sabbatical program will be paid a $38,800 stipend, or 20% of base pay, to take the year off.

Associates who enroll in the fellowship program will receive an $80,000 stipend to work at a nonprofit, public interest organization or at an approved government entity. It is the associate’s responsibility to find the placement.

Associates participating in either program will be eligible for health, dental and vision insurance from the law firm until they return. All incoming associates will also receive a $10,000 stipend in October, whether or not they participate in the program.

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