BigLaw Perks: Superficial or Fundamental?

A New York Times article detailing new perks designed to keep associates happy in BigLaw firms is making the rounds. These perks range from surprise treats likes milkshakes and candied apples to personal valet services, mental health professionals, and full-tiime in-house childcare. As someone who's never worked at a firm this all sounds pretty good-but what do I know?

I can say this, the "principal" at the big Chicago firm that derided these measures saying, "that's setting up people's lives, and I find that appalling," strikes me as someone who has more help at home than your average female associate. I mean come on, he was fine with the firm's masseuse, but not someone who'll pick up your dry cleaning? Maybe that's a big leap to make from one comment, but to me this guy sounds like someone who doesn't fully appreciate how much help he's getting from home and how difficult it is for many women in dual-earner relationships to secure the same ... or maybe he's just grumpy about the free milkshakes.

On a more positive note, Arnold & Porter deserves a note of recognition for being the first and still one of the only of the group to offer on-site day care, since 1995 no less. I'm not sure this measure will actually impact retention though. Isn't the message we continue to hear from women leaving BigLaw that they want more time with kids, not better care by someone else for kids? I don't know what a firm can do, short of flex-time or part-time to meet that need, and unfortunately, as this article points out, these perks have been coupled with rising billable requirements.




There is a good post with great comments on this same article at 
I feel like on site childcare would be a great perk but I agree with one of the commenters at Ruby Red Slipper—back up childcare for sick kids, now that would be a great perk!

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