Fenwick & West boosts paid parental leave for all its attorneys

The law firm that represented Facebook in its IPO has joined corporate giants Walmart and Starbucks in expanding its paid parental leave.

Fenwick & West, a Mountain View, California-based firm, announced earlier this month that their new policy will include 16 weeks of parental bonding time to all attorney parents, regardless of gender or caregiver status.

Employers that expanded their parental leave benefits this year run the gamut — from Starbucks, which began offering the benefit to their hourly employees, to law firm Foley Hoag and biopharmaceutical firm Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“This expanded program was a direct reflection of ongoing dialogue with our professionals and takes into account their feedback,” says Gwen Bazella, Fenwick’s senior director of HR.

PTO-PPL-2-8-18.png

Law firms consistently lose talent because of intense time demands, with associates frequently citing a lack of work-life balance as one of the reasons for their dissatisfaction. Fenwick’s updated parental leave policy may be a good way to combat the problem. In 2017, data pulled from Laterally, a site that lawyers use to search for job opportunities, revealed that the average associate attrition at top law firms is 16% per year.

Rodger Cole, a Fenwick managing partner, says the firm wants its attorneys to flourish both personally and professionally, noting that enhancing Fenwick’s paid parental leave program will help achieve that goal.

Along with the expanded policy, Fenwick & West also offers new parents access to consultants and coaches to help them transition back to work. This includes childcare resources and a breast milk-shipping program for nursing mothers who travel for work.

Paid parental leave has increased significantly between 2016 and 2018, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. The percentage of paid maternity leave increased to 36% in 2018 from 26% in 2016. Paid paternity leave increased to 29% from 21% over the same period.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of employers surveyed by SHRM say that they have increased their benefits offerings to retain employees.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.