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Sidley Austin Increases Paid Parental Leave for U.S. Lawyers

Aug. 2, 2019, 9:23 PM

Sidley Austin is the latest Big Law firm to boost its parental leave offerings, increasing paid time off for U.S. associates and counsel to 14 weeks for all new parents and 22 weeks for birth mothers.

A host of large firms have modified their policies recently to give attorneys becoming parents more paid leave,often ranging from 12 to 16 weeks plus additional time for birthing mothers. The moves are part of an effort to remain competitive in the ever-shifting market for top legal talent.

“The changes to our parental leave policy reflect the firm’s ongoing commitment to support our lawyers and attract the best talent,” Larry Barden, chair of Sidley’s management committee, said in a statement. “We review our parental leave and other policies on a regular basis to ensure they align with our lawyers’ needs and make Sidley an attractive destination for the next generation of lawyers.”

Sidley also removed primary and secondary caregiver designations for parental leave benefits.

Other firms that have provided more generous parental leave policies over the past year include Dechert and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which each now provide at least 12 weeks of paid leave. Barnes & Thornburg announced they would provide a base of 16 weeks for lawyers and staff. Paul Hastings in June increased its paid time off for U.S. employees to at least 14 weeks and just last month Munger Tolles & Olson said it would offer attorneys a base of 18.

None of these firms measure up to the policy offered by Susman & Godfrey though. The firm set a high bar last year with the announcement that all associates would have unlimited parental leave.

“It is important that parental leave policies evolve to reflect societal change, and we recognize that,” Sidley’s Barden said. “We intend to continue to offer appealing benefits that will allow our lawyers to be their best selves, both at work and at home.”

Meghan Tribe contributed to this report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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