By Carolina Vargas • June 18, 2015•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has recently extended their paid parental leave program from 18 weeks to 22 weeks. The goal behind this policy change is to retain more women in the workplace who would otherwise feel that they are unable to balance being parents and having successful careers. Although this policy change is still relatively new, its' placement has already affected new mothers at Orrick. Ms. JD spoke to a few associates at the firm to get their take on this new policy and how it has affected them as mothers. Melissa Hammock, an employment law career associate, was in the middle of her maternity leave when the new parental leave policy at Orrick was put into place. After being informed of this change, she was given the option to take the four extra weeks which she happily did to stay home with her newborn twins. She says this extra time allowed her to really connect with her newborns and helped made her feel more comfortable with going back to work when the time came. A lot of new moms feel guilt with having to leave their children at home during what is a very critical part of their lives. In having more time with the baby, many women such as Ms. Hammock are able to ease back into the workplace and continue with her career while being able to balance her home life.
In order to facilitate the transition back into the workplace after parental leave, Orrick is making a "leave liaison" available to help keep the lawyers up to date and to ensure that the work distribution for returning lawyers remains equal. A reduced work schedule program is also available after returning from parental leave allowing the employees to ease back into the full-time work schedules. Ms. Damrell, who has gone one leave twice since starting with Orrick explains that the firm has always been accommodating to parents and their needs. She feels that this new policy is just solidifying the core values that the firm has exemplified throughout her years there. Many believe in the often perpetuated myth that you can't be a mother and work at at a big law firm. Orrick tries to break through this belief and encourages both mothers and fathers to take advantage of the new leave policy. This is a big factor that is demonstrated in Orrick's goal for higher retention of women as well as the recruitment of lawyers to their firm. Even before the new policy was put into place, Ms. Damrell says she "didn't hesitate for a second" to take that leave and was never made to feel like this was something she couldn't do as well as come back and get caught up. She believes that this new policy is a way to "formalize a culture that [Orrick] already had." This helps to promote and encourage both men and women to take advantage of their parental leave in Orrick and in the industry itself.
Orrick also offers an alternative work arrangement for people who want to continue down the partner track but might need to make changes to their work schedule or take some to accommodate their personal lives. Associates such as Ms. Hammock, have taken similar alternative routes that allow them to work from homer or have reduced billable requirement that made her transition into the workplace easier. These types of arrangements and policies exemplify Orrick's belief in home and work life balance. As Ms. Damrell put it, this newest policy reflects "being opened minded in the paths in which people can take to be successful."
To find out more on Orrick’s expanded policy, please refer to: https://www.orrick.com/News/Pages/Orrick-Parental-Leave-.aspx
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