A Review of the Firms at Recent Receptions and Their Paternity Leave Policies

BY LIBIN ZHANG

Firm receptions have been very popular events, filled with students eager to talk to lawyers and students eager to dine on scallop hors d’oeurves. Your correspondent decided to query the lawyers about some major student concerns, in this ongoing series of investigative journalism, in order to provide answers to those students stuck in the library. Every week will have highly comprehensive answers to a different question of significant importance.

This issue’s question was initially on how many Native American lawyers are at the firm, but the two-syllable answer usually left uncomfortable silences and not much room for discussion. Instead, your correspondent settled on asking, “What is the firm’s policy on paternity leave?”

Bryan Cave The female lawyer from St. Louis laughed at the question; not a mere chuckle, but several episodes of especially bellowing laughter. She stated that, regrettably, Bryan Cave has no paternity leave policy, though she does know of one guy who took one whole day off after his kid was born. However, Bryan Cave does have a flex time policy available to new male parents, with the difference with maternity leave being that the newly-parent male still has to work.

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLPThe IP lawyer, who had just been working at Kirkpatrick for a year, took the question very seriously and in good stride. The firm offers the same policies for paternity leave as maternity leave, which is surprisingly not an euphemism for no leave at all, but means real and strongly recommended breaks of several weeks. It appears that Kirkpatrick has an actual goal of fostering good reputation and goodwill with clients and employees.

Dechert LLP Your correspondent did not get a chance to ask the question, because the lawyers and the students, correspondent inclusive, were all too preoccupied by the mojitos and shrimp gumbo at Chez Henri.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLPThe 2L summer associate laughed at the question and appeared very skeptical that your correspondent was sincere. She claims that her male ‘friends’ who have taken any type of leave tend to “go off to play golf,” while the women on leave did actually take care of the children. Your correspondent wisely did not vocalize his thought that perhaps the firm is full of Federlines, and that what a person does on parental leave is irrelevant. The associate did not know the policy answer, and suggested checking out the website, which does not say much, except that a parental leave policy exists and that it has been written down.

Linklaters Your correspondent for some reason does not remember too much from this night, but as a British firm, Linklaters is supposedly friendlier toward family leave. The firm offers at least 21 days of regular vacation and substantial parental leave for the primary caretaker. Linklaters encourages the use of all breaks. Further discussions on the merits of being the primary caretaker were cut short by the arrival of a fresh batch of shrimp.

Shearman & Sterling LLPShearman offers four weeks of paid paternity leave, which is slightly less than the maternity leave duration. Furthermore, there is anecdotal evidence that the paternity leave exists in practice. In hindsight, however, when the nice associate asked if the leave is “a big concern” of mine, the answer of indeed having a “goal to crank out the babies” was perhaps not the most enlightened response to her question.

Fulbright & Jaworski LLPA partner from the New York office said that this Texas-based firm apparently offers three whole months of paternity leave, if your shocked correspondent heard the answer correctly, and some persons have used the entire duration. Upon further questioning, it came out that the partner might be the one doing the on-campus interviewing, but your correspondent was unable to fully ingratiate himself, because all the lawyers became distracted by some 18-year-old Lesley girls, brought by some brilliant law students to the reception, who had too much to drink and soon needed the proverbial magical ambulance ride.

The questioning and response to the questioning are very insightful in revealing the personalities of the firms, or at least the personalities of the people chosen to represent the firm. Many students were dubious that law firms offer leave at all, and it is refreshing to see so many offices boldly moving into the late-20th-century and providing for family leave.

As another sign of the rampant sexism in society, a shockingly large number of people found the question “humorous” and not serious, once they finally believed what they were being asked. It is hard to imagine anybody laughing at a question about maternity leave from a female questioner, and your correspondent wonders if the same individuals have the same double standard attitude toward female rape (not a joking matter) and male rape (don’t drop the soap).

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next issue’s survey on which firms have the most liberal policies regarding the procurement of office supplies for personal use.

Libin Zhang is a very family-oriented individual.

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