Here at Above the Law, we know how difficult it can be to have children and successfully return to work, so we make it a habit to applaud the expansion of Biglaw firms’ parental leave programs — especially if they’re gender neutral and applicable to all firm personnel, from staff members to associates. What we rarely have the opportunity to praise are firms that offer health benefits that include fertility treatments and family-planning services — not because these benefits don’t exist, but because they’re not publicized as often as parental leave plans are. Even rarer than that are the firms that offer leave for would-be parents who have experienced a pregnancy loss or a failed surrogacy, adoption, or fertility treatment. We now know of at least one Biglaw firm that’s offering such a new policy.
Mintz Levin recently announced that it would be expanding its compassionate leave program for attorneys and staff to include 15 days of consecutive paid leave in the wake of a miscarriage, as well as five days of paid leave every 12 months following a failed surrogacy, adoption, or fertility treatment.
The firm’s new policy was inspired by Natalie Groot, an associate who had experienced two miscarriages in just six months’ time, and went to management with her concerns. The American Lawyer has additional details:
Mintz managing partner Bob Bodian … noted that the firm empowers associates to speak up and share their ideas on policies.
“We provide a high level of communication from management to the rest of the firm, and that tends to ease mental anguish to a large extent. We’re also mindful of mental health challenges, and we try to provide employees as many resources as possible to help ease these challenges,” Bodian said.
Employees at Mintz will no longer have to “suffer this type of loss alone” thanks to management taking Groot’s suggestion to heart. The firm will also offer 15 days of paid leave to employees who lose a spouse, spousal equivalent, children, or step-children. Up to five days of leave will also be offered for the loss of other close relatives.
On top of that, Mintz now offers a ramp-up and ramp-down policy for employees who are preparing to take parental leave or are returning to work after leave, including up to 30 hours for doctors appointments. According to Bodian, this is all part of the firm’s commitment to the mental health and well-being of its employees.
Bodian said he hopes all the policies that Mintz is implementing will lead to an industrywide change toward addressing mental health and moving the needle forward.
“I’ve been practicing the law for 40 years, and I’ve always enjoyed it. But I would like to see more people enjoy it, and feel like they have a balanced life. Having people who feel good about themselves is a worthwhile goal,” he said.
Kudos to Mintz on its new suite of benefit offerings for bereaved parents and parents-to-be. This is something we’ll keep an eye on as firms continue to cater to work-life balance requests. Hopefully your firm is will decide to offer important benefit policies like these soon if it’s not doing so already.
Does your firm offer compassionate leave for attorneys and staff members who have experienced miscarriage or failed surrogacy, adoption, or fertility treatments? We know of just one firm other that offers time off for miscarriage (Goodwin). Please email us or text us (646-820-8477) to let us know where your law firm stands when it comes to this important type of leave.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.