Orrick Again Takes the Lead in Supporting Parents


Yesterday, on Father’s Day, Orrick announced several enhancements to the ways the firm supports lawyers and staff who are parents. The firm’s primary caregiver leave program, introduced in 2015, is already the high watermark among law firms, providing lawyers with 22 weeks of paid leave and nine months of job protection, and staff with 14 weeks of paid leave and seven months of job protection. Orrick is now expanding parental benefits in three ways:

  • Onramping “Guardrails”: The first weeks after returning from leave are an adjustment period – and long, unpredictable work hours can be overwhelming. Through onramping, Orrick already provides a 50% workload expectation during the first month back from primary caregiver leave (which lawyers may choose to extend through the firm’s Flexible Work Arrangement program). Through Guardrails, the firm is adding the important element of predictability. Guardrails give new parents the option of working predictable hours up to a maximum of six hours daily during the first month after returning from primary caregiver leave and the first two weeks after non-primary caregiver leave.
  • Non-Primary Caregiver Leave: The firm is increasing non-primary caregiver leave benefits to give lawyers six weeks of paid leave and to add two weeks of onramping with the Guardrails option. The firm will increase non-primary caregiver leave for staff to three weeks of paid leave.
  • College Fund: The firm will make a $250 contribution to a 529 college fund for all new babies of lawyers and staff.

Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie noted: “These programs are focused on retaining, advancing and, hopefully, inspiring the best rising talent at our firm. We have an unprecedented talent drain in our profession. As a result, clients are sometimes frustrated with the high turnover rate on their law firm teams. At the same time, many corporate legal departments are taking action to drive improvements in the diversity of their outside lawyers. We’re responding by building a best place to work culture, including innovative programs like these and our recent commitment to the Mansfield Rule. Altogether, we believe this makes a meaningful difference in our ability to field teams of unique quality, continuity and diversity.”

Orrick’s Chief Talent Officer Siobhan Handley, who also serves as the firm’s Parental Leave Liaison, added: “In designing these programs, our focus is on listening to new parents to understand how we can help them be successful both at Orrick and in their family lives. We know that’s ultimately key to staying and thriving in a highly demanding service profession like ours. Based on those conversations over the past two years, we decided to prioritize greater predictability of work hours for new parents and greater support for non-primary caregivers, particularly as fathers increasingly value equal sharing of parenting responsibilities. We believe these changes will make a difference – and we’re always looking at what else we can do to innovate in this area.”

Last year, 33 Orrick associates, including five men, took advantage of the firm’s primary caregiver program. Nine of them opted to move to a flexible work arrangement at the end of the onramping period. The firm’s FWA program currently includes 34 associates and of counsel in total.

Parental benefits are part of Orrick’s Agile Working program, which also includes work from home, remote working and job sharing options, all with the support of in-house career coaching. In 2017, for the second year in a row, Fortune named Orrick one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Orrick is the only law firm on Fortune’s list of Best Workplaces for Millennials.