As law firms continue to ramp up their parental leave policies, Shearman & Sterling is enhancing its offerings for its U.S. lawyers and expanding them to staffers.
Under the firm’s new policy, announced Wednesday and effective as of Sept. 1, Shearman & Sterling will provide additional time off for working parents regardless of gender, following the birth, adoption or fostering of their new child.
The enhancements to the parental leave policy will give the firm’s U.S. lawyers who are primary caregivers up to 20 weeks of paid leave, an increase from the 18 weeks of maternity leave that Shearman & Sterling had previously offered. The firm is also providing primary caregivers among its staff up to 14 weeks of paid leave. Shearman & Sterling had previously given salaried staffers up to six weeks of paid leave and no leave for its hourly staffers.
For secondary caregivers, the firm is now providing eight weeks of paid “new child care leave,” regardless of the parent’s gender. Shearman & Sterling had previously offered four weeks of paid paternity leave.
“Our enhanced parental leave policy allows us to further support our people at key stages of their life by increasing the length of paid leave and by providing greater support throughout,” said a statement by Shearman & Sterling senior partner Creighton Condon, elected leader of the firm in 2012.
Shearman & Sterling isn’t the first large law firm to tweak its parental leave policies. This summer, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe bumped up its non-primary caregiver leave for lawyers and staffers. Morrison & Foerster’s London office announced earlier this month an expanded parental leave policy that doubled the amount of paid maternity leave to 26 weeks. The firm also tripled its paternity leave in the U.K. from two weeks to six weeks.
And with many big firms going public with changes to their parental leave policies, the stigma associated with taking such time seems to be slowly changing. In his statement touting Shearman & Sterling’s new offerings, Condon stressed the importance of ensuring that the policy is utilized by the firm’s employees, a sentiment that has long concerned those watching the trend.
“The next important step is to continue to enable our people to use this new policy to the fullest extent,” Condon said.