A report spearheaded by a women's group at Yale Law School has picked the 10 most family-friendly law firms, with a midsize shop earning the top spot.
Yale Law Women and a coalition of groups at seven other elite law schools have named Quarles & Brady No. 1 for family-friendly policies. The law firm, based in Milwaukee, has about 400 attorneys in seven locations.
The list was based on length of maternity leave, attorneys' use of maternity leave, existence of on-site child care facilities, compensation, flexible schedules and several other factors.
Other firms in the top 10 in descending order were: New York-based Proskauer Rose; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Chicago-based Jenner & Block; Chicago-based Mayer Brown; Washington-based Covington & Burling; Arnold & Porter, also based in Washington; DLA Piper; Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris Glovsky and Popeo; and Minneapolis-based Faegre & Benson.
"We want to inform students going through the interview process and potentially alert them about certain firms," said Jill Habig, co-chairwoman of Yale Law Women and a second-year student at the law school. "This isn't a women's issue. It's really for all associates."
About 17 of Quarles & Brady's attorneys took advantage of its flex-time program last year, said Nancy Peterson, a partner at the firm and chairwoman of its diversity committee.
The firm has "tweaked" its flex-time program during the past several years, she said, but a significant component is that attorneys continue to participate in business development, committee work, professional development and more, but on a reduced schedule.
"We're not placing all the emphasis on the billable hour," she said. She added that "flex-time" means usually working about 70 percent of the time, but not within a fixed three-day-per-week schedule. "You have to be adaptable," she said.
Other women's groups assisting in the project were from Harvard Law School; Stanford Law School; Columbia Law School; University of Chicago Law School; University of California, Berkeley School of Law; Northwestern University School of Law; and University of Virginia School of Law.
What makes the list important is the transparency of the methodology, something absent from other commercial family-friendly rankings, said Habig.
Some 71 Yale Law School graduates responded to a survey asking them to rank by order of importance the family-friendly factors. The law firms were then evaluated based on data pertaining to the family-friendly factors collected by NALP, a nonprofit organization that tracks legal careers.
The report also lists in alphabetical order 20 runner-up law firms and 20 "best of the rest" firms.
Most important to the graduates were the billable-hour requirements and the number of attorneys who were participating in flex-time options, Habig said. The number of part-time attorneys who made partner was another important factor, she added.
One goal of the list is to put pressure on law firms to adopt more family-friendly policies and to identify for them the firms that have successful programs already in place, Habig said.