Of the most elite Biglaw firms — the Am Law 100 — 76 have offices in states that have banned or severely limited access to abortion rights in the wake of the Dobbs decision. Biglaw’s rapid expansion into Texas sure looms large. For those thousands who work at those firms (and folks who work at other firms that key their benefits off of what the top of Biglaw does), the VERY important question is — what are they going to do about it?
Sure, things like pro bono opportunities and devoting the firm’s mighty resources to the fight for abortion rights is incredibly important — vital even. But let’s take it out of the esoteric and talk about the actual folks working at those firms who are finding out right now that they’re pregnant. What will those firms do for employees who suddenly find themselves cut off from abortion, and potentially a wide range of fertility treatments?
All sorts of major companies are making news for stepping up for their employees and covering travel expenses for those who wish to access abortion care. Will Biglaw do the same?
Above the Law reached out to Am Law 100 firms that operate offices in locations (all 76 of them) where abortion has already been banned/restricted to find out what their plan is — they did have eight weeks (from the leak of the draft decision) to figure it out. We’ll be updating the chart as we learn more details. Not only is it vital for folks currently working at the firm, but as law students begin the recruitment process in a few months, they can use this info to find out what kind of firm they’re considering working for.
And please, if you know information drop us a line — text (646-820-8477) or email (subject line: “[Firm Name] Travel Costs”). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via text or email if you don’t want to forward the original PDF or Word file. All sources are kept strictly confidential.
And if your firm fails to come through, maybe Dick’s Sporting Goods’ legal department is hiring.
|Firm||Cover Travel Expenses?||Comments|
|Akin Gump||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “The firm is committed to offering our workforce a full suite of healthcare benefits. Consistent with that commitment, we will be providing travel and lodging reimbursement for reproductive healthcare impacted by Dobbs.”|
|Alston & Bird||Yes||According to a firm email, “In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we are moving quickly to ensure that disparities in state law resulting from the Court’s decision do not create differences in our colleagues’ coverage and access to reproductive health services under the firm’s medical insurance plans, including through the payment of travel expenses.”|
|Arnold & Porter||unknown|
|Baker & Hostetler||unknown|
|Barnes & Thornburg||unknown|
|Bryan Cave||unknown||According to a spokesperson, “The well-being of our colleagues continues to be our top priority and we are exploring our options to maintain access to health care services that may no longer be available in their state of residence.”|
|Cozen O’Connor||Yes||According to a spokesperson, “In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, Cozen O’Connor intends to cover transportation costs for employees and dependents for services that aren’t available in their geography. Ensuring access to safe, legal, high-quality health care is one of our most important priorities. There are various issues and mechanics that need to be reviewed and addressed; however, if an employee or dependent is in immediate need, we are directing them to reach out to Human Resources to confidentially discuss how the firm can support them in the interim.”|
|Crowell & Moring||unknown|
|Dorsey||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “Part of the firm’s benefit package is to include insurance coverage for travel and lodging expenses for those living in states where the procedure is not available.”|
|Fish & Richardson||unknown|
|Foley & Lardner||unknown||According to a spokesperson, “Safe medical care is in the best interest of our people and we are planning to reassess the resources that are available through our benefits.”|
|Goodwin||Yes||Despite not having any offices in locations that currently ban abortion, Goodwin will cover travel costs for healthcare service not available up to $5000.|
|Haynes and Boone||unknown|
|Hogan Lovells||Yes||From a firmwide email, “In light of the decision and its impact on access to reproductive rights, we intend to provide our people with resources to access all options of support, including reproductive services that are not locally available.”|
|Holland & Knight||unknown|
|King & Spalding||unknown|
|Kirkland||Yes||From an email to employees, “As a result of the Dobbs decision, the Firm intends to expand its benefit offerings to cover travel expenses for employees who reside in states where abortion is prohibited and who need to travel to receive abortion services or certain fertility treatments, which may also be prohibited under state law.”|
|Latham||unknown||From an email to employees, “The firm is investigating lawful ways to ensure that the disparities in state laws resulting from the Court’s decision do not create differences in our colleagues’ coverage and access to reproductive health services under the firm’s US medical insurance plans , including through the payment of travel expenses. Our global Benefits & Well-Being Department will provide information on any updates to our medical plans and policies in connections with this effort.”|
|Littler||Yes||From an email to employees, “Littler is committed to continuing to provide access to the same full complement of healthcare benefits — including access to abortion services, which, as a result of last week’s ruling, will no longer be available in every state. Additionally, we are expanding our healthcare benefits to include lawful reimbursement of travel and lodging expenses to medical plan participants (both covered employees and defendants) residing in a state that no longer provides full access to female reproductive healthcare; specifically, access to abortions.”|
|Loeb & Loeb||unknown|
|Mayer Brown||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “Mayer Brown’s US medical insurance plan covers the cost to travel for medical care, including abortion and other reproductive care, when such care is not available in the home community of plan participants, including covered family members.”|
|McDermott||Yes||From a firmwide email, “Last week’s Supreme Court decision was a pivotal moment in the US legal landscape. In line with our Firm’s longstanding values and principles, we will continue to ensure that our colleagues and family members covered by our benefits plans will have access to reproductive healthcare, regardless of their location. We will also pay for the cost of travel to obtain such services. Our full support of gender and health equity across all communities is unwavering.”|
|Morgan Lewis||Yes||From a firm spokesperson, “Our firm-sponsored ERISA health benefits plan covers abortion care, and also provides reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses incurred when it is necessary to travel outside of a participant’s home state to obtain such care.”|
|Morrison & Foerster||Yes||From a statement from the firm Chair, Larren M. Nashelsky, “The Morrison & Foerster Foundation has contributed generously to organizations who defend and advance reproductive justice for all Americans. And we have moved quickly to protect the health and well-being of our employees, including through reimbursement of expenses related to lodging, transportation, and meals in a U.S. state where they can legally receive an abortion.”|
|Orrick||Yes||From a statement from firm Chair, Mitch Zuklie, “Our Board believes that it is important to respond to this decision with changes to our policies and programs, and to support the pro bono and community work of those on our team who wish to advocate for reproductive choice. As a result, Orrick joins with leading companies, financial institutions, and law firms in extending travel expense coverage to team members who lack local access to reproductive health and other medical care.”|
|Proskauer||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, Proskauer will provide support for those seeking abortion care outside their state.|
|Quinn Emanuel||Yes||A firm spokesperson indicated they would provide this benefit.|
|Reed Smith||unknown||From a Reed Smith spokesperson: “We are currently examining our internal benefits plan in light of the potential impacts on our people in certain markets.”|
|Ropes & Gray||Yes||Though they don’t have an office in any location that has banned abortion, they have already announced protections of employee rights. A firm spokesperson confirmed, employees that are enrolled in their healthcare plan will continue to have abortion coverage and the firm will provide financial assistance for travel.|
|Seyfarth||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “The firm will continue to support the health needs of all of its U.S. workforce through its comprehensive U.S. health benefits program.”|
|Shearman & Sterling||unknown|
|Sheppard Mullin||Yes||According to an email, “Sheppard Mullin is working to ensure that access to reproductive health services under our medical insurance plans is not restricted based on where our people live, including provision for payment of travel expenses.”|
From a firm memo, “The Management Committee also has approved the reimbursement of abortion-related travel and, if necessary, related legal-defense expenses for our employees, regardless of their state of residence.”
|Simpson Thacher||Yes||From an email to employees, “The Firm will continue to provide robust benefits under the Firm’s health plan that support health care services, which as of July 1, 2022, include travel and lodging support for those that may need to access certain health care services that are not available within a 100-mile radius of the participant’s home.”|
Susman Godfrey announced to employees on Friday (immediately after the decision in Dobbs) that it will cover expenses associated with traveling to another state if required to do so to obtain an abortion for employees and their dependents.
|Vinson & Elkins||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “The Firm will, as part of its health plan, provide a travel benefit for covered health care services that are unavailable locally.”|
|White & Case||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “White & Case provides a comprehensive health care plan to our people, which covers elective abortion. Additionally, in states where abortion care is banned, our plan will cover transportation costs to access abortion services in another state.”|
|Wilson Sonsini||Yes||According to a firm spokesperson, “We are designing benefit coverage to ensure continued access to reproductive health benefits that will be at risk due to the Court’s decision or various state laws. We will establish a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) to provide coverage for abortion services and travel for employees in states where care providers are limited or non-existent, and/or where state law may preclude such coverage on fully insured medical plans.”|
|Winston & Strawn||unknown|
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).