At US legal giants, staffers get the shorter end when it comes to parental leave

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The largest law firms in America often give different parental-leave benefits to lawyers and support staff, a study has found.

Data from 44 of the Am Law 100 that shared leave policies with Bloomberg Law show that lawyers who are primary caregivers get an average of 5.7 to 8.3 more weeks of paid leave than support staff, depending on the staff’s employment status.

On average, birth-mother primary caregivers who are lawyers get 17 weeks of paid parental leave, while staff average nine to 11 weeks, the publication said. Lawyers who are secondary caregivers receive 2.2 to 2.7 more weeks of paid leave than staff.

And that’s while law firm staff get more paid parental leave than staff with comparable pay in other industries.

Some Am Law 100 firms do not give paid parental leave to staff members. Some, however, are generous.

Some firms – which include Polsinelli, Husch Blackwell, and Fragomen – offer 12 weeks paid leave for lawyers and staff who are primary caregivers. Some firms gave staff 12 weeks, but they even gave more to lawyers. Morrison Foerster gives staff who are primary caregivers 16 weeks, while its lawyers get 20 weeks.

The most generous among the firms that shared data are Arnold & Porter and Mintz Levin, the publication said, as the firms give all primary caregivers 18 weeks. These firm’s secondary caregivers are given six and eight weeks paid leave, respectively.

Bloomberg Law said that the data, while giving a rough idea of paid parental leave benefits in the largest law firms in America, do not paint a complete picture. It said many firms reported ranges for leave policies, which depend on employee status and whether they are working in a managerial role. The averages are for total weeks of paid time off, but they do not reflect differences in policies between paid time off and paid disability leave or policies that give paid time off at a percentage of an employee’s salary, it said.


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