This year, there are some new names on the list (Fulbright & Jaworski; Goodwin Proctor; Shearman & Sterling; Squire Sanders) and notable dropouts from last year (including Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr—both firms that are facing gender discrimination suits—click here and here). Overall, though, there's nothing earth shattering about the list.
There are some signs of progress from the year before. For instance, three-quarters of the firms in the survey offer 16 weeks' paid parental leave to primary caregivers and 5.5 weeks to secondary ones. Moreover, more than 90 percent firms offer on-site or backup child care, up from 70 percent the previous year.
Then there are also the familiar statistics: only 17 percent female equity partners, and 20 percent are female executive/management committee members. Yada yada.
So what's the big deal? And who cares about a survey compiled by a bunch of elite students who can afford to stew about such luxuries as work/life balance?
Well, it's always interesting to see what sought-after law grads really want from a job. Plus, it's fascinating that Yalies seem to be defining family friendliness in a rather counter intuitive fashion.
According to the survey, part-time and flextime policies were identified as "the most important factors for evaluating a law firm's family-friendliness." And what's not so important on the family-friendliness scale? Believe it or not: billable hours—what lawyers often blame for their lack of a balanced life. It turns out Yalies aren't bothered by the pressure to bill, as long as they can control how they work.
"Many of our alumni responded that when and where they work had more significance to family- friendliness than how much they worked," says Lauren Hartz, head of Yale Law Women. "We expected [billable hours] to play a larger role in how our alumni evaluate firms."
The way I read it, the best and brightest don't mind the idea that they will work hard—probably very hard—but they want autonomy. (Marissa Mayer, are you listening?)
In any case, here's this year's Yale Law Women list (historical context is provided by the ABA Blog):
• Arnold & Porter (also on the list in 2011 and 2012)
• Fulbright & Jaworski
• Goodwin Procter
• Hunton & Williams (also on last year’s list)
• Orrick, Herrington& Sutcliffe (also on last year’s list)
• Perkins Coie (also on the list in 2011 and 2012)
• Reed Smith (also on last year’s list)
• Shearman & Sterling
• Sidley Austin (also on the 2011 list)
• Squire Sanders
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